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Forest mammal roadkills as related to habitat connectivity in protected areas

Kang, Wanmo, Minor, Emily S., Woo, Donggul, Lee, Dowon, Park, Chan-Ryul
Biodiversity and conservation 2016 v.25 no.13 pp. 2673-2686
biodiversity, conservation areas, forests, gene flow, landscapes, mammals, planning, road kills, roads, wildlife habitats, South Korea
Fragmentation of wildlife habitat by road development is a major threat to biodiversity. Hence, conservation and enhancement of habitat connectivity in roaded landscapes are crucial for effectively maintaining long-term persistence of ecological processes, such as gene flow and migration. Using multivariate statistical techniques combined with graph theoretical methods, we investigated the influence of road-crossing habitat connectivity and road-related features on roadkill abundance of forest mammals in protected areas of South Korea. Because species have different dispersal abilities and thus connectivity would differ between them, we explored three different groups of road-killed mammals, categorized as small, intermediate, and large ones. We found that in all three mammal groups, roadkills are increased on roads that intersect high-connectivity routes. Furthermore, the effect of habitat connectivity on roadkill abundance was scale-dependent. The roadkill abundances of small, intermediate, and large mammals were related with connectivity measured at scales ranging between 100 and 300 m, between 5 and 7 km, and between 10 and 25 km, respectively. Our finding with regard to scale-dependency highlights the importance of maintaining movement and connectivity across roads at multiple scales based on the dispersal potential of different species when planning conservation strategies for forest mammalian roadkill mitigation.