First national assessment of wildlife mortality in Ecuador: an effort
from citizens and academia to collect roadkill data at country scale.
Ecuador has both high richness and high endemism of species which are
increasingly threatened by anthropic pressures, including roads.
However, research evaluating the effects of roads remains scarce, making
it difficult to develop mitigation plans. Here we present the first
national assessment of wildlife mortality that allow us to 1) identify
species and areas where mortality occurs due to collision with vehicles
and 2) reveal knowledge gaps. We bring together data from systematic
surveys and citizen science efforts in Ecuador to present a dataset with
>5000 wildlife roadkill records from 454 species.
Systematic surveys were reported by ten studies conducted in five out of
the 24 Ecuadorian provinces. Collectively they revealed 282 species with
mortality rates ranging from 0.008 to 95.56 ind./km/year. The highest
rates were for the yellow warbler Setophaga petechia in Galápagos (95.56
ind./km/year), the cane toad Rhinella marina in Napo (16.91
ind./km/year), and the small ground-finch Geospiza fuliginosa in
Galápagos (14.11 ind./km/year). Citizen science and other no systematic
monitoring provided 1705 roadkill records representing all the 24
provinces of Ecuador and 299 species. The common opossum Didelphis
marsupialis, the Andean white-eared opossum Didelphis pernigra, and the
yellow warbler Setophaga petechia were more commonly reported (250, 104,
and 81 individuals respectively). Across all sources, we found 15
species listed as Threatened and six as Data Deficient by the IUCN. We
suggest stronger research efforts on areas where mortality of endemic or
threatened species could be critical for populations, such as in
Galápagos. This first assessment of wildlife mortality on Ecuadorian
roads represents contributions from several sectors including academia,
members of the public, and government underlining the value of wider
engagement and collaboration. We hope these findings and the compiled
dataset will guide sustainable planning of infrastructure in Ecuador and
ultimately, contribute to reduce wildlife mortality on roads.