Using Citizen Science in French National Road Departments to collect data on wildlife roadkills

The Green and Blue Infrastructure is a French policy which aims at preserving and restoring functional ecological networks, to reduce habitat fragmentation. Roads have various effects on the environment and they participate to the loss of habitat and to their fragmentation. Mortality caused by collisions between animals and vehicles is a negative consequence of roads on wildlife. To reduce this effect, we have to quantify it by enhancing knowledge and data collection. Some studies have shown that roadkills are aggregated along roads. Identifying these areas can allow implementing appropriate mitigation measures.

In France, the study of wildlife collisions is growing. Many initiatives exist but few have a standardized protocol. Using a standardized protocol would allow providing reliable data and identifying roadkill aggregation areas.

In 2009, a partnership with a national road department, the “Direction Interdépartementale des Routes de l’Est” (DIR Est), and the National Museum of Natural History of Paris (MNHN) was set up. A protocol for collecting roadkill data has been developed and tested for five years.

This protocol is based on the participation of the road maintainers. During their daily maintenance survey, they have to remove animal carcasses for the security of road users. It is an opportunity to collect roadkill information. The maintainers complete a survey sheet that provides information on the species, the date and the location of the collision.

Mobilizing road maintainers has several advantages. It raises awareness of biodiversity conservation issues among them. Moreover, data are more reliable, due to the high frequency of surveys, and the cost of data collection is low.

Each year, data are analysed with the Ripley’s K function, in order to detect hotspots of collisions along roads. Aggregation areas are then mapped. Analyses are done with SIRIEMA software, developed by Brazilian searchers.

This protocol is currently being extended to other structures in order to standardize methods and to limit biases. Since 2015, six new partnerships between the MNHN and national road departments (DIR) have been set up, with the participation of the CEREMA.

More than a thousand data have been collected a year with the “DIR Centre-Est”. The first results are being analysed and will be available in spring 2016.

Road Ecology, wildlife mortality, Roadkill hotspots, Citizen Science