Factors affecting the mortality of Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) by vehicle strike

Shima, Amy L., Gillieson, David S., Crowley, Gabriel M., Dwyer, Ross G., and Berger, Lee (2018) Factors affecting the mortality of Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) by vehicle strike. Wildlife Research, 45 (6). pp. 559-569.

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Context. Vehicle strike is a major issue where wildlife habitat is intersected by busy roads. Near Threatened Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo (Dendrolagus lumholtzi) is a large (5-10 kg) semi-arboreal mammal found in populated rural and forested areas of north-eastern Australia. Warning signs, rope bridges and underpasses have not prevented similar to 20 animals being killed on the road each year.

Aims. To identify factors influencing Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo vehicle strike to help inform mitigation options.

Methods. Citizen sightings (1998-2000) and 90 road-kills collected over 4.5 years on the Atherton Tablelands, Australia, were examined to determine the causes of vehicle strike in Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo. The spatial distributions of sightings and road-kills were characterised using nearest-neighbour analysis, and the relationship between them was determined using a Bayesian approach that accounted for spatial autocorrelation. Gender, age, weight, season, rainfall, road and verge characteristics, traffic volumes, speed limits and mitigation measures were recorded to assess their influence on road-kill risk. Adequacy of speed limits to prevent collisions along road sections with more than four road-kills per 8 km (hazard zones) was assessed from visibility and stopping distances.

Key results. Vehicle strikes mainly affected male tree-kangaroos (2-5 years, 5.5-8 kg), occurred where live animals were most frequently sighted and were most likely on roads with narrow verges, low visibility and medium traffic volumes. Speed limits at hazard zones were inadequate to prevent collisions. Few warning signs corresponded with these zones, and road mortalities persisted where they did.

Conclusions. Unpredictable dispersal of young males and vehicle speeds unsuited to road conditions drive road mortalities in Lumholtz's tree-kangaroo. Because tree-kangaroos do not appear to respond to existing mitigation measures, reducing traffic speeds, and increasing visibility, appear to be the most effective mitigation strategies for reducing tree-kangaroo road mortality.

Item ID: 55985
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-5494
Keywords: anthropogenic impacts, Bayesian modelling, density dependence, management strategies, spatial ecology, wildlife management
Copyright Information: © CSIRO 2018.
Funders: James Cook University (JCU), Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment (HWRE), Wet Tropics Management Authority (WTMA), Skyrail Rainforest Foundation (SRF)
Projects and Grants: JCU Australian Postgraduate Award
Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2018 09:14
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310307 Population ecology @ 40%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410407 Wildlife and habitat management @ 40%
30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3009 Veterinary sciences > 300999 Veterinary sciences not elsewhere classified @ 20%
SEO Codes: 88 TRANSPORT > 8801 Ground Transport > 880109 Road Safety @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9606 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation > 960699 Environmental and Natural Resource Evaluation not elsewhere classified @ 25%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960599 Ecosystem Assessment and Management not elsewhere classified @ 25%
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