Volume 32 Issue 2
Mar.  2011
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Anders Pape Moller, Helga Erritzoe, Johannes Erritzoe. A behavioral ecology approach to traffic accidents: Interspecific variation in causes of traffic casualties among birds. Zoological Research, 2011, 32(2): 115-127.
Citation: Anders Pape Moller, Helga Erritzoe, Johannes Erritzoe. A behavioral ecology approach to traffic accidents: Interspecific variation in causes of traffic casualties among birds. Zoological Research, 2011, 32(2): 115-127.

A behavioral ecology approach to traffic accidents: Interspecific variation in causes of traffic casualties among birds

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  • Author Bio:

    Anders Pape Moller

  • Received Date: 2010-06-17
  • Rev Recd Date: 2011-02-23
  • Publish Date: 2011-04-22
  • Birds and other animals are frequently killed by cars, causing the death of many million individuals per year. Why some species are killed more often than others has never been investigated. In this work hypothesized that risk taking behavior may affect the probability of certain kinds of individuals being killed disproportionately often. Furthermore, behavior of individuals on roads, abundance, habitat preferences, breeding sociality, and health status may all potentially affect the risk of being killed on roads. We used information on the abundance of road kills and the abundance in the surrounding environment of 50 species of birds obtained during regular censuses in 2001−2006 in a rural site in Denmark to test these predictions. The frequency of road kills increased linearly with abundance, while the proportion of individuals sitting on the road or flying low across the road only explained little additional variation in frequency of road casualties. After having accounted for abundance, we found that species with a short flight distance and hence taking greater risks when approached by a potential cause of danger were killed disproportionately often. In addition, solitary species, species with a high prevalence of Plasmodium infection, and species with a large bursa of Fabricius for their body size had a high susceptibility to being killed by cars. These findings suggest that a range of different factors indicative of risk-taking behavior, visual acuity and health status cause certain bird species to be susceptible to casualties due to cars.
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