loading page

Immediate and long-term genetic consequences of linear transport infrastructure: can fauna crossing mitigate its cost?
  • +7
  • Celine Frere,
  • Gabe O'Reilly,
  • Kasha Strickland,
  • Anthony Schultz,
  • Katrin Hohwieler,
  • Jon Hanger,
  • Deidre de Villiers,
  • Romane Cristescu,
  • Daniel Powell,
  • William Sherwin
Celine Frere
The University of Queensland

Corresponding Author:c.frere@uq.edu.au

Author Profile
Gabe O'Reilly
University of New South Wales - Kensington Campus
Author Profile
Kasha Strickland
University of the Sunshine Coast
Author Profile
Anthony Schultz
University of the Sunshine Coast
Author Profile
Katrin Hohwieler
University of the Sunshine Coast Faculty of Science Health Education and Engineering
Author Profile
Jon Hanger
Endeavour Veterinary Ecology
Author Profile
Deidre de Villiers
Endeavour Veterinary Ecology
Author Profile
Romane Cristescu
University of the Sunshine Coast
Author Profile
Daniel Powell
Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences
Author Profile
William Sherwin
Univ of NSW
Author Profile


Linear infrastructure stands as one of the main culprits of anthropogenically caused biodiversity decline. As it fragments landscapes, it ultimately results in a myriad of direct and indirect ecological consequences for wildlife. As transportation networks will continue to grow under increasing human population growth, biodiversity will continue to decline making the need to understand and mitigate their impact on species an urgent need for conservation worldwide. The implementation of mitigation measures to alleviate the barrier effect produced by linear transport infrastructure on local fauna is not new, and research has shown that their effectiveness has been shown to be influenced by their design, their placement and the biology of the impacted species. Our understanding of their effectiveness in preventing the longer-term impacts of linear transport infrastructure on habitat connectivity via gene flow, however, remains poorly understood. Here, we used a pre- and post-habitat fragmentation genetic dataset collected as part of an extensive Koala Management Program to ask questions about the immediate and predicted longer-term genetic consequences of linear transport infrastructure on the impacted species. Importantly, using forward migration simulations, we show that to preserve connectivity would need to result in around 20% of the population mixing to avoid long-term genetic drift. These results have important consequences for the management of species at the forefront of linear infrastructure. In particular, the study shows the importance of considering gene flow in our assessment of the effectiveness of fauna crossings.
07 Oct 2022Submitted to Molecular Ecology
13 Oct 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
18 Nov 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
22 Nov 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor