On this page we present all subprojects that are conducted within the project Roadkill.
In this master thesis we investigate a possible connection between plant phenology and the start of amphibian migration in spring. The aim of the study is to find out whether there is a connection between individual phenological phases of selected plant species in spring (e.g. first flowering, leaf development) and the occurrence of amphibian migrations.
For this purpose a collaboration of four Austrian citizen science projects of four institutions was started. Data on amphibian migrations are provided by Naturbeobachtung.at (Naturschutzbund Österreich), herpetofauna.at (Herpetologische Gesellschaft und Naturhistorisches Museum Wien) and project Roadkill, data on phenology by the Naturkalender (ZAMG). These data will be intersected in order to identify possible correlations.
The findings from this work are not only interesting for science, as a possible connection would allow an increase in planning security for nature conservation organisations which erect and maintain temporary amphibian fences along roads. The idea for practitioners would be that as an amphibian fence coordinator one would observe a certain phenological phase of a plant in spring and thus know that one still has e.g. two weeks time to install amphibian fences before the amphibian migration begins. This would be important because amphibian migrations start depending on climatic conditions and therefore do not start every year at the same time.
In this pilot study, we co-designed together with Susanne Lutter, an enthusiastic Citizen Scientist in the Roadkill project, an approach that should demonstrate whether a presence/absence data collection of roadkilled animals is feasible with citizen science. Presence/absence data is collected by walking a certain distance at regular intervals and reporting whether an animal has been sighted or not. The difference to the current project design in the Roadkill project is that data is also collected in this method showing where no animal was killed on a route. Currently we only collect presence data in the Roadkill project, because you only report when an animal has been seen.
In order to test such a presence/absence data collection with citizen science, we have chosen together with Susanne Lutter a suitable route (3,3km) for her and the project team in the area Wienerberg in Vienna (Austria), which she will walk from spring 2020 in regular intervals (3x per week) and reports by using the Roadkill App where she found animals. In addition, she records when she was on the route and did not see any animals.
We hope that Susanne Lutter's work will provide us with new insights into roadkills in urban areas and look forward to working closely with her on this pilot study.
In addition, the insights gained from this pilot study will allow us to decide whether to apply for a larger project with such a design.
Since September 2018 the team of the project Roadkill is working together with the TU Graz, BirdLife Austria, the Natural History Museum Vienna and the company pentamap mapping services on a project with the short name "AnimalProtect", which was supported by the FFG within the Austrian Space Application Program.
Animal vehicle collisions (AVC) or accidents involving non-huntable wildlife are a risk for humans and animal biodiversity which should not be underestimated due to the growing number of road kilometres in Europe. Considering huntable wildlife, more than 77,000 AVCs were counted in Austria in the season of 2015/16 (non-huntable wildlife is not included in this statistic). In 2016, 304 people were injured and one person even died as a result of the accident. Recently, several serious AVCs occurred in Austria, which also claimed human lives. In the United States there are up to 1.6 million AVCs per year with 200 people killed and several thousand people injured. The resulting total costs of these accidents are estimated at US $ 4.6 billion. Not only does AnimalProtect target serious accidents for humans, it also addresses the environmental problem of road killed birds or amphibians.
Worldwide only very few systematic studies on a national level investigating road-killed animals exists. Since monitoring road-killed animals on this level bears several challenges including large geographic areas and low persistence rates of carcasses resulting in time and personnel intensive monitoring approaches. However, nationwide investigations are necessary in order to be able to predict the danger to humans and animals on a large scale. The aim of the proposed project is to derive hazard zones for AVCs in the vicinity of roads using remote sensing data, expert knowledge and results from previous studies. Therefore, possible impact factors (land cover, terrain, phenological influences, environmental factors, socio-ecological factors, etc.) must be defined based on the behaviour of wild animals in order to subsequently transfer these information to potential data stocks like Copernicus data or Open Street Map (OSM) data. From this knowledge-based approach, risk areas for motorists and various animal species are to be derived. The validation of detected impact areas should be done with present vehicle accident data. In order to do so, interfaces to existing databases of wildlife accidents must be created and the data homogenized.
The hazard zones derived from remote sensing and geoinformation will be offered as a cloud based service that returns the risk of an AVC in a particular area (e.g. on a scale from one (lowest accident risk) to five (major accident risk)). Different users (car drivers, insurance companies, navigation services, public authorities, etc.) should draw corresponding conclusions (e.g. when building a new road). The use of the service should also be shown in the context of a software demonstrator, which indicates the corresponding hazard depending on the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) based position of the user and allows routing over low risk roads.