Do the numbers and locations of road-killed anuran carcasses accurately reflect impacts of vehicular traffic?

Beckmann, Christa and Shine, Richard 2015, Do the numbers and locations of road-killed anuran carcasses accurately reflect impacts of vehicular traffic?, Journal of wildlife management, vol. 79, no. 1, pp. 92-101, doi: 10.1002/jwmg.806.

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Title Do the numbers and locations of road-killed anuran carcasses accurately reflect impacts of vehicular traffic?
Author(s) Beckmann, ChristaORCID iD for Beckmann, Christa
Shine, Richard
Journal name Journal of wildlife management
Volume number 79
Issue number 1
Start page 92
End page 101
Total pages 10
Publisher Wiley
Place of publication Weinheim, Germany
Publication date 2015-01-01
ISSN 0022-541X
Keyword(s) Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Bufo marinus
cane toad
invasive species
Summary Road-killed animals are easy and inexpensive to survey, and may provide information about species distributions, abundances, and mortality rates. As with any sampling method, however, we need to explore methodological biases in such data. First, how does an animal's behavior (e.g., use of the center vs. periphery of the road) influence its vulnerability to vehicular traffic? Second, how rapidly do post-mortem processes (scavenging by other animals, destruction or displacement by subsequent vehicles) change the numbers and locations of roadkills? Our surveys of anurans on a highway in tropical Australia show that different anuran species are distributed in different ways across the width of the road, and that locations of live versus dead animals sometimes differ within a species. Experimental trials show that location on the road affects the probability of being hit by a vehicle, with anurans in the middle of the road begin hit 35% more often than anurans on the edges; thus, center-using species are more likely to be hit than edge-using taxa. The magnitude of post-mortem displacement and destruction by subsequent vehicles depended on anuran species and body size. The mean parallel displacement distance was 122.7 cm, and carcasses of thin-skinned species exhibited greater post-mortem destruction. Scavenging raptors removed 73% of carcasses, most within a few hours of sunrise. Removal rates were biased with respect to size and species. Overall, our studies suggest that investigators should carefully evaluate potential biases before using roadkill counts to estimate underlying animal abundances or mortality rates.
Language eng
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.806
Field of Research 060201 Behavioural Ecology
060208 Terrestrial Ecology
060299 Ecology not elsewhere classified
050103 Invasive Species Ecology
Socio Economic Objective 969999 Environment not elsewhere classified
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2015, Wiley
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