European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 709–714 | Cite as

Mortality of vertebrates on a road crossing the Biebrza Valley (NE Poland)

Original Paper


Mortality of vertebrates was monitored on a local road running across Poland’s Biebrza River Valley during 2 years (August 2005–July 2006). On the basis of distance from the river and surrounding habitats, the road (of total length 2,510 m) was divided into three stretches. The road was monitored on foot by two people every month, over a few consecutive days. A total of 1,892 road kills representing at least 47 species were found. Of these, 90.7% were amphibians, 4.2% mammals, 3.1% birds and 2.0% reptiles. Most (70%) of the amphibians were anurans, with the common toad, common frog and moor frog among them together accounting for 82% of the total. Mortality among amphibians differed between months, most anurans dying in May and August, while a majority of Urodela are lost in October. The peaks in mortality were connected with the migration of adult amphibians in spring and juveniles in summer and autumn. The number of amphibians killed was greatest on the (wettest) stretch adjacent to the river and decreased with distance from it. Mortality among birds was highest in July—probably in association with the dispersal of young individuals. Among recorded mammalian road kills, there was a prevalence of small rodents (mainly voles) and insectivores (mainly shrews). Medium-sized mammals were found only accidentally. Mortality in general was conditioned by the number of anurans killed.


Biebrza National Park Road losses Amphibians Birds Mammals 



We would like to express our gratitude do Dr. M. Keller and Dr. P. Rowiński for their help in identifying the remains of birds. We would also like to thank Profs. Jacek Goszczyński and Michał Wasilewski for their comments on the manuscript and their help with the performing of statistical analyses. The text was revised by James Richards.


  1. Baker PJ, Harris S, Robertson CPJ, Saunders G, White PCL (2004) Is it possible to monitor mammal population changes from counts of traffic casualties? An analysis using Bristol’s red foxes Vulpes vulpes as an example. Mammal Rev 34:115–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bakowski C, Kozakiewicz M (1988) Effects of a forest road on bank vole and yellow-necked mouse populations. Acta Theriol 72:245–252Google Scholar
  3. Barbour EH (1895) Bird fatality along Nebraska railroads. Auk 12:187Google Scholar
  4. Bartoszewicz M (1997) Mortality of vertebrates on the highway bordering on the Słońsk Reserve, western Poland (in Polish with English summary). Parki Nar Rezerw Przyr 16:59–69Google Scholar
  5. Bereszyński A (1980) Studies on mortality of birds died on public roads (in Polish with English summary). Roczniki Akademii Rolniczej w Poznaniu 72:2–9Google Scholar
  6. Ciesiołkiewicz J, Orłowski G, Elżanowski A (2006) High juvenile mortality of grass snakes Natrix natrix (L.) on a suburban road. Pol J Ecol 54:465–472Google Scholar
  7. Clevenger AP, Chruszcz B, Gunson KE (2003) Spatial patterns and factors influencing small vertebrate fauna road-kills aggregations. Biol Conserv 109:15–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dyrcz A, Okulewicz J, Witkowski J, Jesionowski J, Nawrocki P, Winiecki A (1984) Birds of fens in Biebrza Marshes. Faunistic approach. Acta Ornithol 20:1–108Google Scholar
  9. Erritzoe J, Mazgajski TD, Rejt Ł (2003) Bird casualties on European Road—a review. Acta Ornithol 38:77–93Google Scholar
  10. Goławski A, Golawska S (2002) Mortality of birds on the local road in the environs of Siedlce. Not Ornitol 43:270–275 (in Polish with English summary)Google Scholar
  11. Hauer S, Ansorge H, Zinke O (2000) A long-term analysis of the age structure of otters (Lutra lutra) from eastern Germany. Z Saugetierkd 65:360–368Google Scholar
  12. Hell P, Plavý R, Slamečka J, Gašparík J (2005) Losses of mammals (Mammalia) and birds (Aves) on Roads in the Slovak part of the Danube Basin. Eur J Wildl Res 51:35–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hels T, Buchwald E (2001) The effect of road kills on amphibian populations. Biol Conserv 99:331–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jahn LR (1959) Highway mortality as an index of deer-population change. J Wildl Manage 23:187–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Jędrzejewski W, Kowalczyk R (2005) Ssaki drapieżne. In: Dyrcz A, Werpachowski C (eds) Przyroda Biebrzańskiego Parku Narodowego (in Polish with English summary), Biebrza National Park, Osowiec-Twierdza, PolandGoogle Scholar
  16. Jędrzejewski W, Nowak S, Kurek F, Mysłajek W, Stachura K, Zawadzka B (2006) Zwierzęta a drogi. Metody ograniczania negatywnego wpływu dróg na populacje dzikich zwierząt (in Polish). Mammal Research Institute, Białowieża, PolandGoogle Scholar
  17. Krone O, Guminsky O, Meinig H, Hermann M, Trinzen M, Wibbelt G (2008) Endoparasite spectrum of wild cats (Felis silvestris Schreber, 1777) and domestic cats (Felis catus L.) from the Eifel, Pfalz region and Saarland, Germany. Eur J Wild Res 54(1):95–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kuhn J (1987) Road mortality of the Common Toad Bufo bufo L., level of losses and the traffic impact, behaviour on the road. Beih Veröff Natur Landschaft Baden-Wurten 41:175–186Google Scholar
  19. Langen TA, Machniak A, Crowe EK, Mangan C, Roden FR (2007) Methodologies for surveying herpetofauna mortality on a rural highway. J Wildl Manage 71:1361–1368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lesiński G (2007) Bat road casualties and factors determining their number. Mammalia 71:138–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Loughry WJ, McDonough CM (1996) Are road kills valid indicators of armadillo population structure? Am Midl Nat 135:53–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mallick SA, Hocking GJ, Driessen MM (1998) Road-kills of the eastern barred bandicoot (Perameles gunnii) in Tasmania: an index of abundance. Wildl Res 25:139–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Najbar B, Najbar A, Maruchniak-Pasiuk M, Szuszkiewicz E (2006) Mortality of amphibians on a road in the Zielona Góra town region in the years 2003–2004. Chrońmy Przyr Ojczystą 62:64–71 (in Polish with English summary)Google Scholar
  24. Oleś T (1993) O ptakach ginących na szosach w otulinie Pienińskiego Parku Narodowego. Chrońmy Przyr Ojczystą 49:62 (in Polish with English summary)Google Scholar
  25. Orłowski G (2005) Factors affecting road mortality of the Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica in farmland. Acta Ornithol 40:117–125Google Scholar
  26. Orłowski G (2007) Spatial distribution and seasonal pattern in road mortality of the common toad Bufo bufo in agricultural landscape of south-western Poland. Amphib-reptil 28:25–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Orłowski G, Nowak L (2004) Road mortality of hedgehogs Erinaceus spp. in farmland in Lower Silesia (south-western Poland). Pol J Ecol 52:369–374Google Scholar
  28. Orłowski G, Nowak L (2006) Factors influencing mammal roadkills in the agricultural landscape of south-western Poland. Pol J Ecol 54:283–294Google Scholar
  29. Orłowski G, Siembida J (2005) Skeletal injuries of passerines caused by road traffic. Acta Ornithol 40:15–19Google Scholar
  30. Ptaszyk J (1979) Negative effect of chemization, mechanization and communication on birds. Chrońmy Przyr Ojczystą 35:52–59 (in Polish with English summary)Google Scholar
  31. Spellerberg IF (1998) Ecological effects of Road traffic: a literature review. Glob Ecol Biogeogr Lett 7:317–333CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Stoner GM (1925) The toll of carmobile. Science 61:56–57PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sutton GM (1927) Snowy Owl killed by carmobile. Auk 44:564Google Scholar
  34. Trombulak SC, Frissell CA (2000) Review of ecological effects of roads on terrestrial and aquatic communities. Conserv Biol 14:18–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Vos CC, Chardon JP (1998) Effects of habitat fragmentation and road density on the distribution pattern of the moor frog Rana arvalis. J Appl Ecol 35:44–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wołk K (1978) The animals killed by motor vehicles in the Scenic Reserve in the Białowieża Primeval Forest. Chrońmy Przyr Ojczystą 34:20–29 (in Polish with English summary)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Forest Ecology and Wildlife ManagementForest Research InstituteRaszynPoland
  2. 2.Department of Forest Protection and EcologyWarsaw University of Life SciencesWarsawPoland

Personalised recommendations