THE IMPACT OF OFF-ROAD VEHICLES ON A DESERT ECOSYSTEM

The effects of operating a 4-wheel drive truck in a 9-ha area of the Mojave Desert were evaluated. A truck was driven over the same 0.9-km track 21 times between November 1973 and May 1974. The vehicle was also driven randomly around the area (1.3 to 3.4 km) 17 times between December 1973 and May 1974. Spring densities of annual plants in ruts of the regular track (8/m squared) were less than those in control areas (46/112/m Squared), but densities in randomly driven plots (39/m squared) did not differ significantly from controls. Severity of damage to shrubs was directly related to intensity of driving in the area. About 58% of shrubs growing in the regular track sustained estimated damage ranging from 81 to 100%. In randomly driven areas only 6% of shrubs were damaged to this extent, while about 61% sustained damage from 0 to 20%. Numbers and kinds of rodents in control and driven areas were similar before and after the experiment. More young rodents were trapped in the experimental plot than in the control area during July 1974, and this may have been promoted by basal sprouting of new growth by damaged shrubs. Estimates of numbers of side-blotched lizards indicated similar densities before, during, and after the experiment. Counts of whiptail lizards in control and experimental areas were the same after the experiment, but counts of gridiron-tailed lizards were much lower in the driven area. /Author/

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    Springer Verlag

    175 5th Avenue
    New York, NY  USA  10010
  • Authors:
    • Vollmer, A T
    • Maza, B G
    • Medica, P A
    • Turner, F B
    • Bamberg, S A
  • Publication Date: 1976

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  • Accession Number: 00156149
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Nov 23 1977 12:00AM