Culverts alone do not reduce road mortality in anurans
Roads are linked to population declines in amphibians, primarily due to road mortality. Culvert-type ecopassages, along with fencing to direct animals to the passage, have been used to mitigate these impacts. However, the effectiveness of the ecopassage itself, independent of the associated mitigation fencing, is largely untested. In regions with heavy snowfall, long-term maintenance of amphibian-proof fencing is extremely costly. Therefore, it is important to know whether ecopassages alone (without fencing) mitigate amphibian mortality. We used a Before-After-Control-Impact design to experimentally test the hypothesis that pre-existing drainage culverts of the type typically used to mitigate road effects on herptiles mitigate anuran road mortality. Grates were installed at both ends of 6 culverts to exclude anurans from the culverts. At an additional 4 sites fencing was installed on either side of culverts on both sides of the road, to keep anurans off the road. Ten control culverts were left un-manipulated. Roadkill surveys were conducted 1 y before treatments were installed and in each of 2 y after. We predicted that, if culverts alone mitigate mortality, road kill should increase following installation of the grates. If fencing is effective for mitigation, road kill should decrease following installation of fences. We found no evidence for the first prediction: culverts alone did not mitigate road kill effects. In contrast, there was a large decrease in mortality at fenced sites, relative to control sites, indicating that fencing is effective at mitigating road mortality. These results suggest that culverts alone do not reduce anuran mortality; to reduce mortality, animals must be excluded from the road surface.
|Keywords||amphibian, BACI, ecopassage, fragmentation, mitigation, roadkill|
Cunnington, G.M. (Glenn M.), Garrah, E. (Evelyn), Ewen, E. (Eberhardt), & Fahrig, L. (2014). Culverts alone do not reduce road mortality in anurans. Ecoscience, 21(1), 69–78. doi:10.2980/21-1-3673