cover image Crossings: How Road Ecology Is Shaping the Future of Our Planet

Crossings: How Road Ecology Is Shaping the Future of Our Planet

Ben Goldfarb. Norton, $30 (384p) ISBN 978-1-324-00589-6

In this captivating outing, science writer Goldfarb (Eager) explores the negative impact roads have on wildlife. Discussing the danger vehicle collisions pose to animals, he notes that 10,000 garter snakes were fatally hit in one season in Manitoba and that deer need intervals of approximately a minute or longer between passing cars to safely cross. Other harms are less obvious; the difficulty of traversing roadways leads to genetically inbred clusters (“A flightless European beetle disperses so feebly that biologists once found a genetically distinct population encircled by a highway exit loop”), and noise can disrupt ecological checks and balances (chaffinches in Portugal’s oak woodlands avoid loud streets, “allowing unchecked insects to kill roadside trees”). Profiles of individuals working on mitigation strategies are as enlightening as they are encouraging. Among them, Goldfarb highlights biologist Tony Clevenger’s research confirming the effectiveness of wildlife overpasses for enabling grizzly bear populations in Alberta’s Banff National Park to intermingle and ecologist Sarah Perkins’s efforts with Project Splatter to learn more about animal movement patterns by soliciting civilians to report roadkill. Humor leavens the frequently grim subject matter, as when Goldfarb notes that a plan to reduce Dall sheep’s anxiety around vehicles in Denali National Park “runs 428 turgid pages and reliably cures insomnia.” This one’s a winner. Photos. (Sept.)