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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Abundance of red-listed species in infrastructure habitats - "responsibility species" as a priority-setting tool for transportation agencies' conservation action

Helldin, Jan Olof; Wissman, Jörgen; Lennartsson, Tommy


Road and railroad verges may contribute to nature conservation by providing habitat for many species, but due to limited resources, there is a need to select the most important road and railroad stretches for adapted management. We explore the responsibility species concept as a tool for the Swedish Transport Administration to make this selection. We propose lists of candidate responsibility species based on relative abundance of conservation priority species in the vicinity of roads and railroads, respectively. Abundance data were derived from crowd-sourced species observations. Species with >= 20% of observations in infrastructure habitats were included as candidate responsibility species. For roads 32 species were included in the list, for railroads seven species, with an overlap of three species between the lists. We analyzed habitat and management requirements of the listed species to try identifying functional groups. Most of the species require open or semi-open habitats, mainly dry grassland or heathland on sandy or limy soil, un-sprayed crop fields, or solitary trees. Host plants or substrates include broom (genus Genista), patches of bare soil, and sun exposed wood. Conservation actions prescribed for the species include, e.g., late or irregular mowing, removal of the field layer, planting of host species, protecting and providing particular substrates, and special protection of certain sites. We argue that road and railroad managers are particularly well suited to conduct most of these actions. We consider the responsibility species concept to be a useful tool for transportation agencies to set priorities for adapted verge management, and the current method to be effective in identifying a first list of candidate species. We discuss the possibility of also identifying responsibility habitats or general management measures based on the results.


Infrastructure habitats; Railroad verge; Responsibility species; Road verge; Verge management

Published in

Nature Conservation
2015, number: 11 Special Issue, pages: 143-158

        SLU Authors

      • Wissman, Jörgen

        • Swedish Biodiversity Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
        • Lennartsson, Tommy

          • Swedish Biodiversity Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

        Associated SLU-program

        SLU Swedish Biodiversity Centre

        Sustainable Development Goals

        SDG9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure
        SDG15 Life on land

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Environmental Sciences
        Environmental Management

        Publication identifier


        Permanent link to this page (URI)