How effective is road mitigation at reducing road-kill? A meta-analysis

Trina Rytwinski, Kylie Soanes, Jochen A.G. Jaeger, Lenore Fahrig, C.S. Findlay, Jeff Houlahan, Rodney van der Ree, Edgar A. van der Grift

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Road traffic kills hundreds of millions of animals every year, posing a critical threat to the populations of many species. To address this problem there are more than forty types of road mitigation measures available that aim to reduce wildlife mortality on roads (road-kill). For road planners, deciding on what mitigation method to use has been problematic because there is little good information about the relative effectiveness of these measures in reducing road-kill, and the costs of these measures vary greatly. We conducted a metaanalysis using data from 50 studies that quantified the relationship between road-kill and a mitigation measure designed to reduce road-kill. Overall, mitigation measures reduce roadkill by 40% compared to controls. Fences, with or without crossing structures, reduce roadkill by 54%. We found no detectable effect on road-kill of crossing structures without fencing. We found that comparatively expensive mitigation measures reduce large mammal road-kill much more than inexpensive measures. For example, the combination of fencing and crossing structures led to an 83% reduction in road-kill of large mammals, compared to a 57% reduction for animal detection systems, and only a 1% for wildlife reflectors. We suggest that inexpensive measures such as reflectors should not be used until and unless their effectiveness is tested using a high-quality experimental approach. Our meta-analysis also highlights the fact that there are insufficient data to answer many of the most pressing questions that road planners ask about the effectiveness of road mitigation measures, such as whether other less common mitigation measures (e.g., measures to reduce traffic volume and/or speed) reduce road mortality, or to what extent the attributes of crossing structures and fences influence their effectiveness. To improve evaluations of mitigation effectiveness, studies should incorporate data collection before the mitigation is applied, and we recommend a minimum study duration of four years for Before-After, and a minimum of either four years or four sites for Before-After-Control-Impact designs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0166941
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume11
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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