Theses and Dissertations

WILDLIFE ROAD MORTALITY PATTERNS IN SOUTH TEXAS AND SURVEY METHODOLOGY IMPROVEMENT

Bradley Evan Beer, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Copyright 2023 The Author. All Rights Reserved.

Abstract

Mortalities of wildlife caused by collisions with vehicles along roads are increasing in prevalence, threatening the existence of various species and populations. A better understanding of how mortalities change in response to natural and anthropogenic variables and efficient methods of obtaining mortality data are essential to mitigating such mortalities. This thesis investigates several key elements to improving road mortality surveys in south Texas. First, it was found that road mortality survey counts did not change under a pandemic-related lockdown and that 2 mortality survey observers detect more mortalities than 1. Analysis of brown pelican groundings on Texas State Highway 48 showed increased groundings with higher wind speed, lower air temperature, and lower air pressure. A pelican mortality mitigation effort was determined to have succeeded and use of an extensive citizen science dataset was validated. Lastly, road mortality video survey methodology was improved using more advanced cameras and optimized camera positions.