Roadkill mortality decreases after road inauguration

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Abstract

The main factors affecting specific road casualty rates are related to life-history traits, road features, and landscape variables. After road inauguration, roadkill rate and spatial and temporal patterns can change substantially due to changes in traffic intensity, avoidance behaviour or local population decline. Despite the Canary Islands constituting a biodiversity hotspot, Canarian ecosystems are highly threatened because of the high human density, and studies on anthropogenic sources of mortality of wildlife are scarce. Here, we counted roadkills during two annual cycles after the inauguration of an 8.8-km-road section on Tenerife, the largest and most densely populated island of the Canaries. We counted 694 roadkills belonging to a minimum of 19 species of birds and six species of introduced mammals. Seasonal variation was apparent during both annual cycles, particularly for birds, being the majority of victims concentrated in May and June. Although traffic intensity increased since road inauguration, the number of roadkills decreased significantly in the second annual cycle. The reduction in road mortality in the second cycle could be related to some non-mutually exclusive factors such as population decline, road avoidance, or weather conditions. As road networks of the Canary Islands are still increasing, further studies quantifying road mortality impacts on Canarian ecosystems and threatened species are urgently needed to guarantee the management and conservation of its fragile wildlife.

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Sacramento, E., Rodríguez, B., & Rodríguez, A. (2022). Roadkill mortality decreases after road inauguration. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 68(3). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-022-01574-x

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