In this citizen science project, we want to use scientific methods to create an overview in Austria of where which animals are road-killed and what the reasons for this might be. With your reports we aim to identify hotspots and mitigate them together with our partners.
The United Nations adopted the Agenda2030 for Sustainable Development in October 2015, listing 17 goals and 169 targets. With this agenda, nothing less than the world is to be transformed and this in an economic, social and environmental dimension.
These Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are designed to stimulate action in areas of vital importance to humanity and the planet as a whole, from ending hunger and poverty to tackling climate change the promotion of peaceful, equitable and inclusive societies, to ensure economic, technical and social progress in harmony with nature.
We think that citizen science and the Roadkill project are particularly suitable for contributing to the achievement of specific goals.
We can imagine being able to contribute to the following goals with the Roadkill project:
This is an extremely complex target where we see especially our scientific work as essential by using the collected data and additional projects to analyse the influence of roads and road traffic on vertebrate animal populations, focusing on endangered species. Only with this knowledge can we set concrete and meaningful measures to reduce a possible negative impact of roads and road traffic.
By collecting data on roadkilled vertebrate species in general and species listed in the IUCN Red List (https://www.iucnredlist.org/) in particular, and by forwarding such data to public authorities project Roadkill can contribute to the indicator of SDG 15.5 “Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020 protect and prevent the extinction of protected species” and to SDG 15.9 “By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts” by providing data.
Of course, we are aware that through our project we can only make a small contribution to achieving global SDGs, but we would like to try our best to make our planet a bit more sustainable. In our view the cooperation of the public with representatives of science at eye level makes it possible to be able to reach the extremely complex global goals of the United Nations step by step from a local to a global level.
In this Citizen Science Project of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, we would like to use scientific methods to create an overview in Austria of where which animals are road-killed and what reasons there might be for this. With your reports, we aim to identify hotspots and mitigate them together with our partners.
Roadkill is the term used to describe all animals killed in road traffic. The German term Wildunfall (wildlife accident) falls short as it usually only refers to larger mammals and occasionally birds. This is also reflected in official statistics - data on animals killed in road traffic are mainly collected on so-called "huntable game". Data on all other animal species - including endangered species such as amphibians - are missing.
Roads fragment the habitats of many animal species. Applied to human living spaces, this would mean that, for example, the connection between kitchen and living room is crossed by a road. Animals cross roads when, for example, they are searching for food, looking for mating partners or when they are moving between winter and summer habitats (such as toads during their migration in spring). Animal species that make these migrations are therefore particularly frequently affected by roadkill.
Roadkill also has relevance for humans - animals on the roads pose a great danger to motorists and also a great ethical burden. Not only collisions with large animals such as deer or wild boar cause casualties and damage to property every year - small animals such as hedgehogs and toads can also cause damage, as accidents due to evasive and braking manoeuvres frequently occur.
Our clear aim is to reduce the number of roadkills as much as possible by getting to the bottom of the causes of roadkills.
The first step is to get an overview of the number, extent and distribution of roadkills in Austria. By compiling many individual data into one large data set, we aim to determine under which conditions (weather, time of day, ...), at which locations (forest, meadow, local area, ...), on which roads, which animals become victims of roadkill.
In addition to answering these scientific questions, we would like to identify "hotspots", i.e. places where roadkill is particularly frequent. In the future, we will try to mitigate these hotspots in cooperation with authorities, NGOs and communities.
The overall aim of the Roadkill project is to raise awareness of roadkill among all participants.
Participation in the Roadkill project is designed to make both joining the project and participating as easy as possible. For example, you only need a username and password to register, and data entry can be done via apps for iOS and Android smartphones, or simply via the internet browser. Our website and apps are developed by Spotteron. If you already have an account with a Spotteron app, you can also use it in our online submission form or apps.
Project Roadkill is available as an Android app for your smartphone in the Google Play Store as a free download:
A separate app for Iphones is also available for free in the iTunes Store:
You can also use our online submission form.
Before you can actively participate using the Spotteron App, you must register or log in. As described above, we only require a username, email and password for registration or your existing Spotteron user account. If you are driving on a road in Austria and observe a dead animal that has been hit by a vehicle, simply report it via our app for Android or iOS or via the online form in the data entry. You can do this on the spot, or make a note of the location and enter the data at home on a computer with an internet connection.
However, always be aware of your own safety! Do not enter any spots while you are driving; do not take a photo on unclear stretches of road; always pay attention to the traffic and do not risk anything to enter a new spot! Your safety always comes first!
Download the app instructions from Spotteron:
On Österreich forscht we have so far written four posts in German on our blog about functions of the app and the project website. Here we describe exactly how to use the individual functions:
Even now you can do a lot to avoid road kills. For example, it is a widespread misconception that amphibians survive by taking them "between the tires" with your car. Velocities over 30 km / h can already lead to the death of the amphibians, due to the vacuum under the car their lungs can burst.
If you want to be more active in the protection of frogs, toads, newts etc. on the road, you are sure to find an association near you which is working with amphibian protection fences along the roads and looks forward to your help. Contact your local museum to find out more about these associations.
Most road-kills with game animals happen during twilight, drive very carefully here and pay more attention to the edges of the road. The signs "Deer crossing" show particularly vulnerable spots and should be taken seriously, even if you have never seen a game there.
Anyone can participate in the Roadkill project. The only requirement is registration at www.roadkill.at and internet access. A certain knowledge of vertebrate species is an advantage (but not a prerequisite).
You can participate in the project in two ways, using your smartphone or our online form.
Since 2021, we have focused on Austria for reporting data. If you would like to report roadkills in other countries, you are welcome to contact our colleagues in the respective countries. In our blog, we have compiled a list of countries with roadkill projects known to us.
Your entries in the Roadkill project are displayed on the interactive map and can be viewed by anyone. The raw data can only be viewed by persons with administrative rights and is stored on the servers of the Citizen Science Platform SPOTTERON. The data is only passed on to third parties in anonymised form (without any user information) and only for scientific or public benefit purposes (e.g. feeding into navigation devices). The Roadkill project does not pursue any commercial goals. Personal data will be treated as strictly confidential and will not be passed on to third parties. Full rights of use are granted to the project for the photos accompanying the entries. When a photo is used in the context of project activities, we always give credit to the author (username or display name).
We are currently working on an online identification guide for you. You can already find some information in our descriptions. Until the identification guide is ready, we ask you to identify the animal you have found using your knowledge or an identification book. If you are not sure about the species, just indicate the class or tick the field "unsure". In general, it is better to have a rough but correct identification than a fine but incorrect identification.
These books and websites might help you with your identification:
o E.N. Arnold und J.A. Burton (1979): Pareys Reptilien und Amphibienführer Europas
o E. Grimmberger (2013): Die Säugetiere Deutschlands: Beobachten und Bestimmen
o D. Schilling, D. Singer und H. Diller (1983): BLV Bestimmungsbuch Säugetiere – 181 Arten Europas
o F. Spitzenberger (2001): Die Säugetierfauna Österreichs
o K. Mullarney, L. Svensson und D. Zetterström (2011): Der Kosmos Vogelführer
Memorise the location, time, animal and number of individuals. Enter the data into the database at home or at the next stopping point.
Do not enter any spots while you are driving; do not take a photo on unclear stretches of road; always pay attention to the traffic and do not risk anything to enter a new spot! Your safety always comes first!
Since projects in this field can only be successful over several years, no end of the project is foreseen. Analyses, diploma theses, etc. will be carried out on an ongoing basis.
For the safety of humans, vertebrates on the roads are most important. In addition, vertebrates are usually easier to recognise and identify.
However, it is not excluded that in the future special projects on roadkills involving non-vertebrates will be offered on this page.
We understand our project team as everyone who contributes to the project. Of course our Citizen Scientists are in the center of attention, because without their data reports, the discussions about the recorded animal species and the improvement suggestions for the apps, website and the method itself, the project would not be possible. Some of our Citizen Scientists are also presented in our team blog:
In addition, there are people in the project who contribute significantly to the success, be it through programming and designing the website and apps or through scientific work. We are happy to have such a great team and that it is constantly growing and becoming more diverse due to our Citizen Scientists.
| Daniel Dörler