Talk Motorway and road edges as amphibian reptile and small mammal habitats in Hungary

Most biological studies on linear infrastructures focus on fragmentation, road kills, invasion by exotic species, effect of air, noise and chemical pollution on animal behaviour or the effect of preventing measures. Relatively little attention is given to the habitat function of road, motorway, railway and channel verges, even if the extension of these areas increases yearly. To collect information on this aspect of linear infrastructures, the presence and relative abundances of species within different taxonomic groups was investigated in the framework of a complex several year- long study on native and invasive arthropod pest and their natural predators (amphibians, reptiles, small mammals) along four Hungarian motorways, three roads and the ring-road around Budapest. The presentation summarises results of the arthropods’s vertebrate predators of three research seasons on motorways verges between 2011-2013, and three research seasons on road verges between 2014-2015. The traps operated 3x3 weeks in April- May, July, September- October annually, on the motorways was 6-6 traps per each site (33 in total) and on the roads was 15 traps per each sites (4 in total).

Amphibians (newts, frogs and toads), reptiles (lizards) and small mammals were found in all sampling sites. Seven amphibian, five reptile and three mammal species were caught in the projects including taxa listed in Annex II of the Habitats Directive (Triturus dobrogicus, Bombina bombina, Crocidura leucodon). Pelobates fuscus was the most common species in the traps, representing 75% of amphibian captures while the most common reptile species was the common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) with 44% of the reptile captures. The surrounding habitats had a key role in determining species composition of the sites along the different types of roads. For example the Lissotriton vulgaris was only collected at one site (Hajdúnánás), which was the only sampling site near a permanent water body. Other amphibian species were regularly occurring near periodic water bodies. Anguis fragilis was only found at the forest edge site (Letenye), while shrew and mouse species were found near the grasslands. Not only the number of amphibians, but also the number of reptiles and mammals increased in the wet year 2011, and 2013 along the sampling site of Motorways. In road verges similar trends were observed. Though sites adjacent to motorway and road are highly polluted, only one deformed amphibian individual (Pelobates fuscus) was found during the research projects.

The researches were managed by MTA Centre for Agricultural Research and MTA Centre for Ecological Research. The project was supported by the K75889 and K83829 grants of the Hungarian Research Fund.

monitoring, verge management