Researchers may be underestimating roadkill numbers

phys.org | 5/14/2018 | Staff
MysticHeart (Posted by) Level 3
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A new study in the Journal of Urban Ecology, published by Oxford University Press, indicates that the number of wild animals killed by motor vehicles may be much higher than is generally reported or understood.

Roads can have negative impacts on wildlife through direct effects such as fatal collisions with vehicles and through indirect effects such as changing and fragmenting animal habitats. There are millions of wildlife deaths on British roads every year, and the resulting carcasses represent a substantial amount of food for scavengers. By removing roadkill in urban areas, scavengers perform a valuable ecosystem service, but the rapid removal of these carcasses by scavengers could lead researchers to underestimate the impact of roads on wildlife.

Order - Scale - Context - Roadkill - Researchers

In order to evaluate the scale and context of urban roadkill scavenging, researchers here examined which species scavenge on roadkill in urban areas, the likelihood of roadkill being removed by scavengers, and whether spatial and temporal factors (such as location and time of day) influenced the rate of removal.

Researchers deployed camera traps baited with chicken heads to simulate roadkill corpses in six residential and six parkland sites in the city of Cardiff. Seven species were observed removing the roadkill, with corvids (members of the crow family) being the most common scavengers, responsible for 42% of removals. Of the 120 corpses, 90 (76%) were removed within 12 hours. Time of day had a significant effect on the rate of removal, with the number of carcass removals peaking in the first few hours of daylight. Of roadkill placed at 9 AM, 62% of carcasses had been removed after only two hours.

Removal - Corpses - Scavengers

Removal of corpses by scavengers could mean that the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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