As transportation ecology has evolved, it has incorporated aspects of multiple subdisciplines within ecology from landscape to population, organism and genetic perspectives. Because of the applied nature of the field, urban ecology and sociological perspectives have long been important. As we move forward, collaboration between researchers and transportation practitioners from a wider range of disciplines is needed. Recent work on integrating wildlife connectivity into longer range transportation planning and programming is one example. There has also been an increased importance of integrating wildlife concerns into infrastructure preservation projects and maintenance practices, bringing in participation from a wider range of transportation agency departments to address retrofits for wildlife connectivity and maintenance practices to benefit pollinators.
As the focus of transportation ecology expands beyond the original focus on landscape connectivity for vertebrate animals to include a greater emphasis on vegetation, invertebrates and effects of nutrients and pollutants on roadside habitats and waterways, the need to increase our capacity for collaboration and information sharing among researchers and a wider spectrum of transportation practitioners is becoming apparent. One way to do this is to strengthen the connections between existing communities, particularly ICOET and discipline/topic based committees of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials and the Transportation Research Board, which incorporates a broader range of practitioners from academia, consulting and transportation agencies. Using connections and interdisciplinary subcommittees among these groups enables identification of knowledge gaps as well as potential applications of emerging technologies such as environmental DNA, unmanned aerial systems and automated image analysis. I will discuss some newer interdisciplinary subcommittees and the ways I am working to facilitate continuing collaboration among these communities as well as current research topics.
Addressing the social and planning aspects of transportation calls for strengthening relationships in the realms of long term planning, equity and environmental justice as well. Participants in ICOET and TRB are forging relationships to further advance collaboration in these areas. I will discuss these efforts and ways for attendees to become involved in these future directions of transportation ecology.