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Facilitating permeability of landscapes impacted by roads for protected amphibians: patterns of movement for the great crested newt

Matos, Cátia; Petrovan, Silviu; Ward, Alastair I. and Wheeler, Philip (2017). Facilitating permeability of landscapes impacted by roads for protected amphibians: patterns of movement for the great crested newt. PeerJ, 5, article no. e2922.

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Amphibian populations are highly vulnerable to road mortality and habitat fragmentation caused by road networks. Wildlife road tunnels are considered the most promising road mitigation measure for amphibians yet generally remain inadequately monitored, resulting in mixed success rates in the short-term and uncertain conservation benefits in the long-term. We monitored a complex multi-tunnel and fence system over five years and investigated the impact of the scheme on movement patterns of two newt species, including the largest known UK population of the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus), a European Protected Species. We used a stage descriptive approach based on capture positions to quantify newt movement patterns. Newt species successfully used the mitigation but the system constituted a bottleneck to movements from the fences to the tunnels. Crossing rates varied widely among years and were skewed towards autumn dispersal rather than spring breeding migration. There was a substantial negative bias against adult male great crested newts using the system. This study indicates that road tunnels could partially mitigate wider connectivity loss and fragmentation at the landscape scale for newt species. However, the observed bottleneck effects and seasonal bias could have population-level effects which must be better understood, especially for small populations, so that improvements can be made. Current requirements for monitoring mitigation schemes post-implementation are probably too short to assess their effectiveness in maintaining connectivity and to adequately understand their population-level impacts.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2017 Matos et al.
ISSN: 2167-8359
Keywords: connectivity; dispersal; great crested newt; migration; smooth newt; underpass; wildlife crossing; road ecology
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Item ID: 48869
Depositing User: Philip Wheeler
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2017 11:19
Last Modified: 01 May 2019 14:55
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