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Selected Publication:

Heigl, F; Horvath, K; Laaha, G; Zaller, JG.
(2017): Amphibian and reptile road-kills on tertiary roads in relation to landscape structure: using a citizen science approach with open-access land cover data
BMC ECOL. 2017; 17: FullText FullText_BOKU

Background: Amphibians and reptiles are among the most endangered vertebrate species worldwide. However, little is known how they are affected by road-kills on tertiary roads and whether the surrounding landscape structure can explain road-kill patterns. The aim of our study was to examine the applicability of open-access remote sensing data for a large-scale citizen science approach to describe spatial patterns of road-killed amphibians and reptiles on tertiary roads. Using a citizen science app we monitored road-kills of amphibians and reptiles along 97.5 km of tertiary roads covering agricultural, municipal and interurban roads as well as cycling paths in eastern Austria over two seasons. Surrounding landscape was assessed using open access land cover classes for the region (Coordination of Information on the Environment, CORINE). Hotspot analysis was performed using kernel density estimation (KDE+). Relations between land cover classes and amphibian and reptile road-kills were analysed with conditional probabilities and general linear models (GLM). We also estimated the potential cost-efficiency of a large scale citizen science monitoring project. Results: We recorded 180 amphibian and 72 reptile road-kills comprising eight species mainly occurring on agricultural roads. KDE+ analyses revealed a significant clustering of road-killed amphibians and reptiles, which is an important information for authorities aiming to mitigate road-kills. Overall, hotspots of amphibian and reptile roadkills were next to the land cover classes arable land, suburban areas and vineyards. Conditional probabilities and GLMs identified road-kills especially next to preferred habitats of green toad, common toad and grass snake, the most often found road-killed species. A citizen science approach appeared to be more cost-efficient than monitoring by professional researchers only when more than 400 km of road are monitored. Conclusions: Our findings showed that freely available remote sensing data in combination with a citizen science approach would be a cost-efficient method aiming to identify and monitor road-kill hotspots of amphibians and reptiles on a larger scale.
Authors BOKU Wien:
Heigl Florian
Laaha Gregor
Zaller Johann

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)
Kernel density estimation
Landscape ecology
Participatory science
Road mortality

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