Context-dependent effects on spatial variation in deer-vehicle collisions

Clevenger, A. P., Barrueto, M., Gunson, K. E., Caryl, F. M. and Ford, A. T. (2015) Context-dependent effects on spatial variation in deer-vehicle collisions. Ecosphere, 6(4), 47. (doi: 10.1890/ES14-00228.1)

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Identifying factors that contribute to the risk of wildlife‐vehicle collisions (WVCs) has been a key focus of wildlife managers, transportation safety planners and road ecologists for over three decades. Despite these efforts, few generalities have emerged which can help predict the occurrence of WVCs, heightening the uncertainty under which conservation, wildlife and transportation management decisions are made. Undermining this general understanding is the use of study area boundaries that are incongruent with major biophysical gradients, inconsistent data collection protocols among study areas and species‐specific interactions with roads. We tested the extent to which factors predicting the occurrence of deer‐vehicle collisions (DVCs) were general among five study areas distributed over a 11,400‐km2 region in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. In spite of our system‐wide focus on the same genus (i.e., Odocoileus hemionus and O. virginianus), study area delineation along major biophysical gradients, and use of consistent data collection protocols, we found that large‐scale biophysical processes influence the effect of localized factors. At the local scale, factors predicting WVC occurrence varied greatly between individual study areas. Distance to water was an important predictor of WVCs in three of the five study areas, while other variables had modest importance in only two of the five study areas. Thus, lack of generality in factors predicting WVCs may have less to do with methodological or taxonomic differences among study areas than the large‐scale, biophysical context within which the data were collected. These results highlight the critical need to develop a conceptual framework in road ecology that can unify the disparate results emerging from field studies on WVC occurrence.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Canadian Rocky Mountains, deer-vehicle collisions, highway, mitigation, Odocoileus hemionus,Odocoileus virginianus, predictive model, road ecology, scale, traffic safety, wildlife.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Caryl, Dr Fiona
Authors: Clevenger, A. P., Barrueto, M., Gunson, K. E., Caryl, F. M., and Ford, A. T.
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Ecosphere
Publisher:Ecological Society of America
ISSN (Online):2150-8925
Published Online:09 April 2015
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 Clevenger et al.
First Published:First published in Ecosphere 6(4): 47
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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