Road development in Latin America is growing dramatically along with increased ownership of cars and reliance on vehicle transport for international trade. The Pan-American Highway (PAH), the longest roadway on earth, is experiencing growth in traffic volume in Central America, resulting in plans to increase its capacity by lane-widening, adding lanes, and dividing the two directions of traffic flow. PAH bisects the Guanacaste Conservation Area in northwestern Costa Rica, one of the largest protected areas in Central America. The road subdivides a migratory corridor that animals from the size of butterflies to large mammals use to move between evergreen montane forest and lowland deciduous tropical dry forest. We report on a decade's work on road mortality patterns, use of culverts as passage structures, and analysis of vegetation patterns and landscape to understand how animal movements are affected by the current roadway, and to predict the consequences of converting a two-lane highway with a narrow verge into the proposed four-lane divided expressway. Our research has applications to many other wildlands parks and protected areas in Latin America that are crossed by public highways and are experiencing road expansion and growth in traffic volumes.
This talk is part of the Latin American session chaired by Anthony Clevenger.