Low level off-road vehicle (ORV) traffic negatively impacts macroinvertebrate assemblages at sandy beaches in south-Western Australia

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Abstract

Off-road vehicle use is arguably one of the most environmentally damaging human activities undertaken on sandy beaches worldwide. Existing studies focused on areas of high traffic volumes have demonstrated significantly lower abundance, diversity and species richness of fauna in zones where traffic is concentrated. The impact of lower traffic volumes is unknown. This study aimed to investigate the impacts of relatively low-level vehicle traffic on sandy beach fauna by sampling invertebrate communities at eight beaches located in south-Western Australia. We found that even low-level vehicle traffic negatively impacts the physical beach environment, and consequently, the ability of many species to survive in this habitat in the face of this disturbance. Compaction, rutting and displacement of the sand matrix were observed over a large area, resulting in significant decreases in species diversity and density, and measurable shifts in community structure on beaches that experienced off-road vehicle traffic. Communities at impact sites did not display seasonal recovery as traffic was not significantly different between seasons. Given a choice between either reducing traffic volumes, or excluding ORV traffic from beaches, our results suggest that the latter would be more appropriate when the retention of ecological integrity is the objective.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2016

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Western Australia
South Australia
Invertebrates
Human Activities
Ecosystem

Cite this

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title = "Low level off-road vehicle (ORV) traffic negatively impacts macroinvertebrate assemblages at sandy beaches in south-Western Australia",
abstract = "Off-road vehicle use is arguably one of the most environmentally damaging human activities undertaken on sandy beaches worldwide. Existing studies focused on areas of high traffic volumes have demonstrated significantly lower abundance, diversity and species richness of fauna in zones where traffic is concentrated. The impact of lower traffic volumes is unknown. This study aimed to investigate the impacts of relatively low-level vehicle traffic on sandy beach fauna by sampling invertebrate communities at eight beaches located in south-Western Australia. We found that even low-level vehicle traffic negatively impacts the physical beach environment, and consequently, the ability of many species to survive in this habitat in the face of this disturbance. Compaction, rutting and displacement of the sand matrix were observed over a large area, resulting in significant decreases in species diversity and density, and measurable shifts in community structure on beaches that experienced off-road vehicle traffic. Communities at impact sites did not display seasonal recovery as traffic was not significantly different between seasons. Given a choice between either reducing traffic volumes, or excluding ORV traffic from beaches, our results suggest that the latter would be more appropriate when the retention of ecological integrity is the objective.",
author = "Rebecca Davies and Speldewinde, {Peter C.} and Cook, {Barbara A.}",
year = "2016",
month = "4",
day = "28",
doi = "10.1038/srep24899",
language = "English",
volume = "6",
journal = "Scientific Reports",
issn = "2045-2322",
publisher = "Nature Publishing Group - Macmillan Publishers",

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T1 - Low level off-road vehicle (ORV) traffic negatively impacts macroinvertebrate assemblages at sandy beaches in south-Western Australia

AU - Davies, Rebecca

AU - Speldewinde, Peter C.

AU - Cook, Barbara A.

PY - 2016/4/28

Y1 - 2016/4/28

N2 - Off-road vehicle use is arguably one of the most environmentally damaging human activities undertaken on sandy beaches worldwide. Existing studies focused on areas of high traffic volumes have demonstrated significantly lower abundance, diversity and species richness of fauna in zones where traffic is concentrated. The impact of lower traffic volumes is unknown. This study aimed to investigate the impacts of relatively low-level vehicle traffic on sandy beach fauna by sampling invertebrate communities at eight beaches located in south-Western Australia. We found that even low-level vehicle traffic negatively impacts the physical beach environment, and consequently, the ability of many species to survive in this habitat in the face of this disturbance. Compaction, rutting and displacement of the sand matrix were observed over a large area, resulting in significant decreases in species diversity and density, and measurable shifts in community structure on beaches that experienced off-road vehicle traffic. Communities at impact sites did not display seasonal recovery as traffic was not significantly different between seasons. Given a choice between either reducing traffic volumes, or excluding ORV traffic from beaches, our results suggest that the latter would be more appropriate when the retention of ecological integrity is the objective.

AB - Off-road vehicle use is arguably one of the most environmentally damaging human activities undertaken on sandy beaches worldwide. Existing studies focused on areas of high traffic volumes have demonstrated significantly lower abundance, diversity and species richness of fauna in zones where traffic is concentrated. The impact of lower traffic volumes is unknown. This study aimed to investigate the impacts of relatively low-level vehicle traffic on sandy beach fauna by sampling invertebrate communities at eight beaches located in south-Western Australia. We found that even low-level vehicle traffic negatively impacts the physical beach environment, and consequently, the ability of many species to survive in this habitat in the face of this disturbance. Compaction, rutting and displacement of the sand matrix were observed over a large area, resulting in significant decreases in species diversity and density, and measurable shifts in community structure on beaches that experienced off-road vehicle traffic. Communities at impact sites did not display seasonal recovery as traffic was not significantly different between seasons. Given a choice between either reducing traffic volumes, or excluding ORV traffic from beaches, our results suggest that the latter would be more appropriate when the retention of ecological integrity is the objective.

U2 - 10.1038/srep24899

DO - 10.1038/srep24899

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VL - 6

JO - Scientific Reports

JF - Scientific Reports

SN - 2045-2322

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