GRUPO DE ECOLOGÍA APLICADA | APPLIED ECOLOGY GROUP
PROYECTS

Analysis of vertebrate mortality on roads

Analysis of vertebrate mortality on roads

Wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVCs) have become in a main traffic safety issue due to their annual increase during the last decades and the elevated socio-economic costs associated with them. This phenomenon is currently considered one of the main anthropogenic causes of animal mortality and generates important socio-economic costs by causing the death or serious injuries among drivers. For example, in Europe, two decades ago, it was estimated that more than 500,000 collisions with ungulates occurred annually, causing about 30,000 injured persons and an economic cost of 1$ billon. However, collision data from recent studies in diverse European countries suggest that these figures are nowadays substantially higher and affect a wide range of taxa. In the case of Spain, The National Traffic Authority (DGT) reported that collisions doubled between 2006-2012 (on average, 12.433 AVCs per year) in comparison to those registered in 2003 (6.227 AVCs), causing 2911 injured persons and an estimated annual cost of 105 million €. Previous works have shown that WVC are not randomly distributed and that road features, the adjacent land use and the biology of the species affected has a main influence in likelihood of WCV.

In this two-year project, we regularly surveyed small and medium-sized vertebrate mortality along 45 road sections of 10km each distributed across Andalusia (South Spain), a large Mediterranean region (87.000 Km2) considered a biodiversity hotspot . The information was used to investigate the composition, seasonality and spatial patterns of vertebrate (birds, mammals, amphibian and reptiles) roadkills in the region. Further, we develop statistic models identifying the factors associated with WVC risk according to biology of the species affected by roadkills, the adjacent land use and road design. These are essential steps to optimize the balance between the economic effort and effectiveness of future mitigation measures

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