- Ferris, Craig R.
University of Maine Graduate School
The effects of a two-lane and four-lane highway on songbirds and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus viriginianus) in forest habitats were examined along Interstate 95 (I-95) in northern Maine. Total numbers of breeding birds in forest areas adjacent to the highway were not adversely affected by either two-lane or four-lane highway. Bay-breasted warblers (Dendroica castanea), blackburnian warblers (Dendroiea fusca), blue jays (cyanocitta cristata, and winter wrens (Troglodytes troglodytes) were less abundant within 100 m of the highway than in forest areas at greater distances, indicating these species may have been disturbed by highway traffic. Populations of chestnut-sided warblers ( Dendroica pensylvanica ), yellowthroats (Geothlypis trichas), white-throated sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis), robins (Turdus mignalorius), wood thrushes (Hlocichla mustelina), and Tennessee warblers (Vermivora peregrina.) increased along the highway. Addition of species nesting in association with the forest/right-of-way (ROW) edge increased species richness and diversity slightly along the highway. Each kilometer of four-lane highway destroyed forest habitat capable of supporting an average of 130 pairs of breeding birds. Habitats developing in the ROW and median strip associated with four-lane highway supported a minimum of 65 pairs/km. Two-lane highway displaced 52 pairs of forest birds per kilometer, which were replaced with 42 pairs of edge species. Birds wintering in forest areas adjacent to the highway were unaffected by I-95, and the impact on these populations was limited to loss of habitat encompassed by the highway.
White-tailed deer utilized forest habitat within 100 m of the forest/ROW edge less than areas at greater distances, indicating an avoidance of these areas. Fifty percent of deer observed while spot-lighting were in waste areas, 39 percent in wooded areas, and 11 percent in the ROW. Waste areas were apparently responsible for keeping the number of deer in the ROW low, as they provided similar food resources, and deer were particularly screened from highway traffic in waste areas. These areas could be important in reducing deer-vehicle collisions.