Wildlife surveys to be done on route of A96 dualling
Surveys for wildlife will be done along the proposed route of new dual carriageway between Inverness and Nairn.
The work to upgrade the section of A96 forms part of a wider project to build 88 miles (141km) of dual carriageway between Inverness and Aberdeen.
Improving the A96 from Inverness and Nairn could cost between £375m to £475m.
The surveys will look for animals such as bats and great crested newts.
Teams of ecologists will gather information on species present and their habitats over the next few months.
Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown said: "The surveys this week will look at breeding birds and great crested newts in their natural habitat along the route.
"Over the coming months further surveys for otters, red squirrel, pine marten, badgers, bats and wintering birds will also take place along with aquatic studies and other environmental and heritage surveys.
"Gathering this kind of information will give us a clearer understanding of the local environment and allow us to help protect the wildlife and their habitats as we take forward essential work to upgrade the main artery between Inverness and Aberdeen."