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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Road verges are corridors and roads barriers for the movement of flower-visiting insects

Daniel-Ferreira, Juliana; Berggren, Asa; Wissman, Jorgen; Ockinger, Erik


Roads and road verges can potentially have opposite impacts on organisms that move through the landscape. While road verges can be habitat for a large number of species, and have been proposed to act as dispersal corridors, roads can act as barriers to movement. This duality of roads and road verges has however rarely been assessed simultaneously, and it is unknown to what degree it depends on the amount of traffic on the road and on the habitat quality of the road verge. We used fluorescent powdered dye to track movements of flower-visiting insects along roads with varying traffic intensity, and in verges with contrasting habitat quality (flowering plant species richness and flower density). Insect movements along road verges were more frequent than movements into the adjacent habitats, indicating that verges act as corridors. The frequency of movements that required crossing the road was lower compared to the frequency of movements that did not, suggesting that roads are barriers. The movement patterns were independent of traffic intensity, but the barrier effect was stronger when the road verge had a higher density of flower resources. The effect of roads as a barrier and of the road verges as corridors were independent of each other. Our results suggest that flower-visiting insects tend to remain longer in road verges with high density of flowers and we therefore suggest that managing road verge habitats for an increased plant diversity will mitigate the known negative impacts of roads on insect populations.


bees; butterflies; dispersal; habitats; hoverflies; landscape; linear infrastructure connectivity

Published in

2022, number: 2, article number: e05847
Publisher: WILEY

      SLU Authors

        • Associated SLU-program

          SLU Swedish Biodiversity Centre

          Sustainable Development Goals

          Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
          Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

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