Projecting Road Kill Risk for Taiwan’s Reptiles and Amphibians

Kristina Chyn (, PhD Candidate, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology,
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University
Te-En Lin, Researcher, Zoology Division, Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute

2018 Australasian Network for Ecology and Transportation (ANET) Conference, Victoria, Australia
Te-En Lin

Reptiles and amphibians have some of the highest recorded levels of road mortality
globally and are the most threatened group of terrestrial vertebrate taxa, but road ecology studies are typically lacking for herpetofauna. Due to their spatially-complex lifestyles, diverse lifehistories, and urgent need for conservation research, herpetofauna are ideal for studying road zone effects across multiple scales. However, reptiles and amphibians are often understudied in road ecology as they pose little threat for motorists and are often difficult to accurately and safely assess. As it is unrealistic to monitor all roads to determine which roads are most risky for wildlife mortality, I use species distribution models (SDMs) to analyze road kill observation points and environmental variables to model and project road kill risk for wildlife across a road network. This allows transportation managers to identify key locations of high road kill risk for mitigation. I am working with researchers from the Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute (TESRI) who manage an extensive citizen science road kill monitoring group, Taiwan Road Observation Network (TaiRON). The TaiRON database has over 50,000 geospatially referenced road kill observations collected from 2011 – 2016 contributed opportunistically by citizen scientists. Afterwards, the TaiRON expert community and project managers vet the observations before being marked as verified in the database. I used this TaiRON road kill observation data and environmental covariates (road type, traffic volume, land cover, etc.) in SDMs to create projections and maps of road kill risk on the road network in Taiwan. The risk projections identify areas of high and low road kill risk, as well as the environmental variables that strongly contribute to risk outcomes. I am currently working with researchers at the University of Melbourne to apply road kill risk modeling to Australian wildlife and environments to broaden the applicability and impact of my research.