Cars kill more animals in protected areas
Other studies have linked roadkill numbers to factors such as climate or the animal’s activity. For example, amphibians often get squashed on their way to breeding ponds during the rainy season. A team of European scientists wondered if the protection status of the area also made a difference. After all, people often visit wildlife refuges, and with more people comes more traffic.
The researchers surveyed 4,920 kilometers of roads in 41 counties across Catalonia, Spain. The team performed the surveys in spring and autumn 2002, scanning for animal carcasses from a slow-moving car. Next, the researchers tried to determine if roadkill numbers were linked to the climate, season, or protection status of the area.
The team recorded 2,013 dead animals on the roads, more than half of which were amphibians. Mammals, birds, and reptiles were also found. While the climate did not seem to affect the number of roadkills, the protection status did. The higher the level of protection, the more roadkill victims the team found in that area, according to the study in Biodiversity and Conservation.
The authors speculate that protected areas may simply have more animals crossing the roads. But these refuges can also draw more tourists and road development. In one park, the researchers found the most roadkills during peak tourist season. Managers could try to avert these accidents by directing amphibians to new breeding sites, the team suggests. — Roberta Kwok | 6 August 2012
Source: Garriga, N. et al. 2012. Are protected areas truly protected? The impact of road traffic on vertebrate fauna. Biodiversity and Conservation doi: 10.1007/s10531-012-0332-0.
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