Wildlife mortality risk posed by high and low traffic roads

Dror Denneboom, Avi Bar-Massada, Assaf Shwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Wildlife mortality due to collisions with vehicles (roadkill) is one of the predominant negative effects exerted by roads on many wildlife species. Reducing roadkill is therefore a major component of wildlife conservation. Roadkill is affected by various factors, including road attributes and traffic volume. It is theorized that the effect of traffic volume on roadkill probability should be unimodal. However, empirical evidence for this theory is lacking. Using a large-scale roadkill database of 18 wildlife species in Israel, encompassing 2846 km of roads over 10 years, we explored the effects of traffic volume and road attributes (e.g., road lighting, verge vegetation) on roadkill probability with a multivariate generalized linear mixed model. A unimodal effect of traffic volume was identified for the striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena), whereas 5 species demonstrated a novel quadratic U-shaped effect (e.g., golden jackal [Canis aureus]). Four species showed a negative linear effect (e.g., wild boar [Sus scrofa]). We also identified varying effects of road attributes on roadkill. For instance, road lighting and roadside trees decreased roadkill for several species, whereas bus stops and concrete guardrails led to increased roadkill. The theorized unimodal effect of traffic volume may only apply to large, agile species, and the U-shaped effect could be related to intraspecies variability in traffic avoidance behavior. In general, we found that both high-traffic and low-traffic roads can pose a high mortality risk for wildlife. It is therefore important to monitor roadkill on low-traffic roads and adapt road attributes to mitigate roadkill. Road design for effective roadkill mitigation includes reducing the use of concrete guardrails and median barriers where possible and avoiding dense bushes in verge landscaping. These measures are complemented by employing wildlife detection systems, driver warnings, and seasonal speed reduction measures on low-traffic roads identified as roadkill hotspots.

Original languageEnglish
JournalConservation Biology
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Conservation Biology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Conservation Biology.

Keywords

  • animales atropellados
  • colisiones fauna-vehículo
  • ecología de carreteras
  • fragmentación de hábitat
  • habitat fragmentation
  • infraestructura de transporte
  • mitigación
  • mitigation
  • mortalidad de fauna
  • road ecology
  • roadkill
  • traffic volume
  • transportation infrastructure
  • volumen de tráfico
  • wildlife mortality
  • wildlife–vehicle collisions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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