Roadkills of vertebrate species on two highways through the Atlantic Forest Biosphere Reserve, southern Brazil
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We assessed the magnitude, composition, and spatial and temporal patterns of road mortality of native vertebrates on two highways in southern Brazil from 18 January 2003 to 26 January 2004. The highways cross remnants of the Atlantic Rainforest, a global biodiversity hotspot, and differ in vehicle traffic and surrounding landscape. We compared the road-kill magnitude and composition of birds, mammals, and reptiles between roads and seasons. We used a modified K statistic to depict the spatial patterns of roadkills of these groups and tested the association between vehicle traffic and road mortality through linear regression. We recorded 869 kills of 92 species. The two roads differed regarding the abundance and composition of roadkills. Reptile road mortality was higher in summer than winter, but all other groups did not show significant difference in the magnitude of mortality between seasons. The composition of killed assemblages differed significantly for some of the taxonomic groups among seasons. We found only one positive association between roadkills and vehicle traffic (reptiles on one of the roads), suggesting that vehicle flow does not explain the road-kill temporal variation on these roads. Total vertebrate, bird, and mammal roadkills showed significant spatial aggregations possibly due to variation in vehicle traffic, highway design, and local landscape condition and arrangement. With expected expansion of the road network, mitigation measures for multi-species assemblages should include habitat protection, soil use regulation, road crossing structures, speed reducers, and campaigns to raise people’s awareness about road impacts on wildlife.