Road-kill is the most recognized impact of traffic and an important threat for biodiversity. Nevertheless, most research on this topic deals with particular species or with road features, describing proximate correlates and rarely making inference on the mechanisms. Here we provide a more general approximation by describing life-history, temporal and spatial factors affecting vertebrate road-kills in Mediterranean landscapes, which are a biodiversity hotspot with little studied road impacts. During one year we recorded the casualties found on paved roads within Doñana Natural Park. We found 2368 road-kills belonging to 66 species (32% of the study area checklist), with abundant ectotherm species more likely to be road-killed. We also investigated the temporal and spatial factors affecting the road-kill patterns of different taxonomic and functional groups. The phenology of the species was the main factor affecting road-kill temporal patterns for lizards, all birds and small mammals. Additionally, rainfall events were associated with the road-kill peaks of wintering birds, whereas high temperatures were related to the increase of road-killed snakes and the decrease of road-killed amphibians. Amphibians, snakes, lizards and small passerines were mainly road-killed according with their spatial abundance. Mitigation measures such as wildlife road-crossing structures showed contradictory effectiveness for small vertebrates due to the lack of adequate drift fences. We suggest prioritizing the mitigation measures which can permanently decrease the risk of been road-killed for ectotherm species, such as specific road-crossing structures with effective drift fences on road-kill hotspots. Concurrently, group-specific temporal mitigation measures should be applied during the road-kill seasonal peaks. The present work provides recommendations to decrease road-kill impacts in Mediterranean environments, but simultaneously tries to contribute to a more general development of road ecology research, suggesting several useful guidelines to perform road-kill studies.
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 2015
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