Title

Roadkill and Space Use Data Predict Vehicle-Strike Hotspots and Mortality Rates in a Recovering Bobcat (Lynx Rufus) Population

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-1-2019

Abstract

© 2019, The Author(s). Roadways pose challenges for conserving wide-ranging animal species. As bobcat (Lynx rufus) populations recover in Ohio, an accurate evaluation of population metrics is critical to understanding future population trajectories. In this study, we integrated multiple datasets to examine overall road mortality rates in Ohio. First, we utilized a long-term vehicle-strike dataset (1978–2017) to determine landscape and local predictors of road mortality. We found that bobcats were killed at higher rates on interstates regardless of surrounding landscape composition, but that landscape variables were useful at predicting mortality on lower-traffic roads. To explore road avoidance behaviors, we used GPS telemetry data from 18 individuals to compare road crossings along trajectory paths with random road crossings simulated using Correlated Random Walks. Bobcats exhibited avoidance of certain route types (county, municipal, and US routes). Finally, by integrating traffic volume data, road crossing behavior, and accounting for the proportion of each route type present in the study area, we estimated that a minimum of 6% and up to 18% of the bobcat population in Ohio is lost to vehicle-strikes annually. To fully understand the population level impacts of this mortality, we recommend further monitoring of age structure and sex of roadkill animals. Our results identify potential areas for mitigation of vehicle-strikes and emphasize the importance of accounting for road mortality when making management decisions for Ohio’s recovering bobcat population.

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