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Title: No evidence of a threshold in traffic volume affecting road-kill mortality at a large spatio-temporal scale

Previous studies have found that the relationship between wildlife road mortality and traffic volume follows a threshold effect on low traffic volume roads. We aimed at evaluating the response of several species to increasing traffic intensity on highways over a large geographic area and temporal period. We used data of four terrestrial vertebrate species with different biological and ecological features known by their high road-kill rates: the barn owl (Tyto alba), hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Additionally, we checked whether road-kill likelihood varies when traffic patterns depart from the average. We used annual average daily traffic (AADT) and road-kill records observed along 1000 km of highways in Portugal over seven consecutive years (2003–2009). We fitted candidate models using Generalized Linear Models with a binomial distribution through a sample unit of 1 km segments to describe the effect of traffic on the probability of finding at least one victim in each segment during the study. We also assigned for each road-kill record the traffic of that day and the AADT on that year to test for differences using Paired Student's t-test. Mortality risk declined significantly with traffic volume but varied among species: the probabilitymore » of finding road-killed red foxes and rabbits occurs up to moderate traffic volumes (< 20,000 AADT) whereas barn owls and hedgehogs occurred up to higher traffic volumes (40,000 AADT). Perception of risk may explain differences in responses towards high traffic highway segments. Road-kill rates did not vary significantly when traffic intensity departed from the average. In summary, we did not find evidence of traffic thresholds for the analysed species and traffic intensities. We suggest mitigation measures to reduce mortality be applied in particular on low traffic roads (< 5000 AADT) while additional measures to reduce barrier effects should take into account species-specific behavioural traits. - Highlights: • Traffic and road-kills were analysed along 1000 km of highways over seven years. • Mortality risk declined significantly with traffic volume. • Perception of risk may explain different responses towards high traffic sections. • Reducing barrier effects should take into account species behavioural traits.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ; ;  [1]
  1. Departamento de Biología de la Conservación, Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD-CSIC), Calle Américo Vespucio s/n, E-41092 Sevilla (Spain)
  2. (Brazil)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Impact Assessment Review; Journal Volume: 55; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2015 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States