Edge effects of roads on temperature, light, canopy cover, and canopy height in laurel and pine forests (Tenerife, Canary Islands)
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The estimation of the road edge effect is useful to understand changes induced by the road network on ecosystems. Road networks on islands may break ecosystem integrity through microclimate edge effects, which are known to be associated with disturbances to animal and plant communities. Road edge effects have been scarcely studied on oceanic islands. In this paper we studied road edge effects on microclimate and canopy structure in laurel and pine forests in Tenerife (Canary Islands).We assessed depth of road edge effect for temperature at four vertical layers (soil, litter and air at 5 cm and 1.3m above ground), light intensity, canopy cover and height, in transects running from narrow (6–7m width) asphalt roads and dust trails to 100m to the interior of both forests. We used an ANOVA procedure with Helmert difference contrasts to identify the distances along transects over which edge effects were significant. We detected significant gradients for most parameters but they were consistently narrow both within and between forests. In the laurel forest, we detected highly significant gradients for soil temperature, light, and canopy cover and height in both asphalt and unpaved roads. In the pine forest, we detected a highly significant gradient for soil temperature at asphalt roads, and a significant light gradient for both asphalt and unpaved roads. From the road edge to the forest interior, significant temperature changes persisted for only 3m, light variation persisted for 6m, and canopy cover and height changed significantly within the first 10 m. Asphalt roads and dust trails revealed different patterns of variation for temperature between edge and interior. No differences were found between the two types of roads in edge-interior trends for light or canopy structure. The abruptness of microclimate and canopy gradients was slightly higher in the laurel forest than in the pine forest, caused by a higher edge contrast in the former. The depth of the road edge effect found in laurel and pine forests was small, but it could have cumulative effects on forest microclimate and forest associated biota at the island scale. Such changes deserve attention by local road managers for planning and design purposes.