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Wildlife-vehicle collisions in lanzarote biosphere reserve, Canary Islands

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Abstract

Insular wildlife is more prone to extinction than their mainland relatives. Thus, a basic understanding of non-natural mortality sources is the first step in the development of conservation management plans. The Canary Islands are an important tourist destination due to their unique climate and rich scenery and biodiversity. During the last few decades, there has been significant development of urban areas and busy road networks. However, there have been no studies describing the effects of road mortality on wildlife in this archipelago. We describe the temporal and spatial patterns of wildlife roadkill in Lanzarote (UNESCO Biosphere Reserve), using counts from cars for an entire annual cycle. A total of 666 roadkills were recorded (monthly average of 0.09 birds/km and 0.14 mammals/km) comprising at least 37 species including native birds and introduced mammals. Seasonal abundance, richness and diversity of roadkills showed a high peak during summer months for both mammals and birds. GLMs indicated that accidents (including birds and mammals) have a higher probability of occurrence close to houses and on roads with high speed limits. When ana-lysed separately, mammal kills occurred in sectors with high speed limits, close to houses and in areas surrounded by exotic bushes, while bird roadkills appeared in road sectors with high speed limits, close to houses and low traffic volume. Our findings highlight that roads are a potential threat to native birds in the eastern Canary Islands. Detailed studies on the local population dynamics of highly affected species, such as the Houbara Bustard, Eurasian Stone Curlew, Barn Owl or Southern Shrike, are urgently needed to determine whether these levels of road mortality are sustainable.

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Tejera, G., Rodríguez, B., Armas, C., & Rodríguez, A. (2018). Wildlife-vehicle collisions in lanzarote biosphere reserve, Canary Islands. PLoS ONE, 13(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0192731

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