Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 681–694 | Cite as

Ungulate: vehicle collision rates are associated with the phase of the moon

  • Victor J. Colino-Rabanal
  • Tom A. LangenEmail author
  • Salvador J. Peris
  • Miguel Lizana
Original Paper


The phase of the moon can affect activity patterns of nocturnal animals, and may also affect visibility for motorists. However, surprisingly little is known about whether the risk of a wildlife-vehicle collision (WVC) is associated with lunar phase. We investigated the relationship between frequency of WVC at night and lunar phase for four large ungulate species that account for a high proportion of serious WVC along roads in agricultural and forested landscapes of two continents: wild boar Sus scrofa, roe deer Capreolus capreolus, and red deer Cervus elaphus in Castile and Leon, Spain, and white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus in New York State, USA. Three of the four species most frequently collided with vehicles at night during the full moon phase of the lunar cycle; this pattern was evident throughout the year but was stronger during some months. For roe deer, the species for which WVC was most closely associated with the lunar cycle, the frequency of WVC was 71.3% greater during the full than new moon period. Our results indicate that rates of ungulate WVC at night cycle on a period of a lunar month, which has implications for traffic safety planning and for motor vehicle collision emergency response preparation.


Human-wildlife conflict Lunar phase Road ecology Temporal cycles Traffic safety Ungulate mammals 



We thank the agencies that kindly provided the data for this study. Traffic reports from Castile and Leon were provided by the Traffic Safety Observatory of the Dirección General de Tráfico, the Traffic Subsectors of the Guardia Civil and the Servicios Territoriales of the Department of Environment of the Junta de Castilla y León. The New York State Department of Transportation provided the accident reports from New York State. We thank the reviewers for thoughtful comments that improved this paper.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victor J. Colino-Rabanal
    • 1
  • Tom A. Langen
    • 2
    Email author
  • Salvador J. Peris
    • 1
  • Miguel Lizana
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologySalamanca University. Campus Miguel de UnamunoSalamancaSpain
  2. 2.Department of BiologyClarkson UniversityPotsdamUSA

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