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Temporal patterns of wildlife roadkill in the UK

Raymond, Sarah, Schwartz, Amy L. W., Thomas, Robert J., Chadwick, Elizabeth and Perkins, Sarah E. 2021. Temporal patterns of wildlife roadkill in the UK. PLoS ONE 16 (10) , e0258083. 10.1371/journal.pone.0258083

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Abstract

Wildlife-vehicle collisions are one of the main causes of mortality for wild mammals and birds in the UK. Here, using a dataset of 54,000+ records collated by a citizen science roadkill recording scheme between 2014–2019, we analyse and present temporal patterns of wildlife roadkill of the 19 most commonly reported taxa in the UK (84% of all reported roadkill). Most taxa (13 out of 19) showed significant and consistent seasonal variations in road mortality and fitted one of two seasonal patterns; bimodal or unimodal: only three species (red fox Vulpes vulpes, European polecat Mustela putorius and Reeves’ muntjac deer Muntiacus reevesi) showed no significant seasonality. Species that increase movement in spring and autumn potentially have bimodal patterns in roadkill due to the increase in mate-searching and juvenile dispersal during these respective time periods (e.g. European badger Meles meles). Unimodal patterns likely represent increased mortality due to a single short pulse in activity associated with breeding (e.g. birds) or foraging (e.g. grey squirrels Sciurus carolinensis in autumn). Importantly, these patterns also indicate periods of increased risk for drivers, potentially posing a greater threat to human welfare. In addition to behaviour-driven annual patterns, abiotic factors (temperature and rainfall) explained some variance in roadkill. Notably, high rainfall was associated with decreased observations of two bird taxa (gulls and Eurasian magpies Pica pica) and European rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus. By quantifying seasonal patterns in roadkill, we highlight a significant anthropogenic impact on wild species, which is important in relation to conservation, animal welfare, and human safety.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Additional Information: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License
Publisher: Public Library of Science
ISSN: 1932-6203
Funders: NERC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 September 2021
Date of Acceptance: 21 September 2021
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2021 09:13
URI: https://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/144564

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