Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 1007–1020 | Cite as

The effects of road and landscape characteristics on the likelihood of a Barred Owl (Strix varia)-vehicle collision

  • Sara A. GagnéEmail author
  • Jennifer L. Bates
  • Richard O. Bierregaard


Collision with vehicles is a major if not the dominant source of mortality for owls. Despite this, there has been no study to date on Barred Owl-vehicle collisions, a species that breeds in densely-populated suburban neighborhoods with high road density. We capitalized on the availability of a large dataset of the locations of Barred Owls hit by vehicles and brought to a rehabilitation center in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA to investigate the factors underlying collision incidence. Using autologistic regressions and multi-model inference, we found that the explanatory variables with the largest effects on the likelihood of a Barred Owl-vehicle collision were speed limit, road width, and habitat suitability within 825 m of roads, in that order. Speed limit and habitat suitability had positive effects whereas road width had a negative effect. Our results are in agreement with existing studies of birds that have investigated the relative effects of road features and landscape structure in demonstrating the greater importance of the former. Future research should include systematic Barred Owl roadkill surveys that account for sampling biases in order to determine the importance of roads as a source of mortality for the species and to gain a better understanding of the effects of roadway design on the incidence of Barred Owl-vehicle collisions.


Road ecology Spatial autocorrelation Wildlife-vehicle collisions Wildlife crossing signs 



We thank the Carolina Raptor Center for generously providing us access to their archives. We also thank Larry Barden for his candid and valuable insight throughout the course of our research and writing. This work was supported by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Supplementary material

11252_2015_465_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (142 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 141 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara A. Gagné
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jennifer L. Bates
    • 1
  • Richard O. Bierregaard
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geography and Earth SciencesUniversity of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotteUSA

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