Lockdowns revealed the British wildlife most at risk of becoming roadkill - British Ecological Society

Badger roadkill. Credit: Gerald in Leeds. Provided by Sarah Raymond.
Badger roadkill. Credit: Gerald in Leeds. Provided by Sarah Raymond.

Researchers find that badgers, foxes and pheasants benefitted the most from reduced traffic during UK lockdowns. The findings are presented in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

Scientists have used UK-wide lockdowns as a unique opportunity to observe wildlife with the absence of traffic. Their findings shedding light on what characteristics and traits make iconic British species – like badgers and pheasants – more likely to be involved in collisions with vehicles.

Researchers at The Road Lab, based at Cardiff University, used data of roadkill records to assess the 19 wildlife species most frequently involved in vehicular collisions, to see which exhibited changes in road mortality during two major lockdown periods (March- May 2020 and December 2020 – March 2021).

By comparing lockdown rates to the same time periods in previous years (2014-2019), they were able to identify the traits that put species at higher risk of becoming roadkill.

Sarah Raymond, research student at Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences who led the research, said: “During lockdowns, we found that there were fewer records of nocturnal mammals, animals that visit urban environments, mammals with greater brain mass and birds with longer flight initiation distances. Species that have several of these traits – such as badgers, foxes and pheasants – are more likely to be hit by cars and have the highest mortality rate in normal traffic levels. These species therefore appear to have benefited from the lockdowns the most, and so suffer most during ‘normal’ times.”

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Posted On: 20/04/2023

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