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J Environ Manage. 2008 Aug;88(3):407-15. Epub 2007 Apr 30.

Are motorway wildlife passages worth building? Vertebrate use of road-crossing structures on a Spanish motorway.

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Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, E-28049 Madrid, Spain.


Numerous road and railway construction projects include costly mitigation measures to offset the barrier effect produced on local fauna, despite the scarcity of data on the effectiveness of such mitigation measures. In this study, we evaluate the utility of different types of crossing structures. Vertebrate use of 43 transverse crossing structures along the A-52 motorway (north-western Spain) was studied during spring 2001. Research centered on wildlife passages (9), wildlife-adapted box culverts (7), functional passages (6 overpasses, 7 underpasses) and culverts (14), with marble dust being used to record animal tracks. A total of 424 track-days were recorded, with most of the larger vertebrate groups present in the area being detected. All crossing structure types were used by animals, although the intensity of use varied significantly among them (Kruskal-Wallis test, p<0.05); culverts were used less frequently than other structures. Crossing structure type and width were identified as the most important factors in their selection for use. Wildlife passages and adapted culverts allowed crossing by certain species (wild boar, roe deer, Eurasian badger), which do not tend to cross elsewhere. These results highlight the importance of using both mixed-type structures and wildlife passages in reducing the barrier effect of roads.

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