Ecological Investigations to Select Mitigation Options to Reduce Vehicle-Caused Mortality of a Threatened Butterfly
Journal of Insect Conservation
Whereas roads that bisect habitat are known to decrease population size through animal-vehicle collisions or interruption of key life history events, it is not always obvious how to reduce such impacts, especially for flying organisms. We needed a quick, cost-efficient and effective way to determine how best to decrease vehicle-caused mortality while maintaining habitat connectivity for the federally listed Oregon silverspot butterfly, Speyeria zerene hippolyta. Therefore, we gathered targeted ecological information that informed selection of a mitigation option prior to implementation. We sampled butterfly behavior and environmental conditions along a highway and conducted a small-scale experiment along a decommissioned road corridor used by these butterflies. Using our findings, we recommended vegetation management and helped managers eliminate options they were considering that would be ineffective such as increasing shade or wind in the road, and installing fencing or hedgerows aimed at directing flight above traffic. This quick and inexpensive approach of using ecological observations and small-scale experiments to evaluate the likely success of each available mitigation option can be used to determine effective, species-specific solutions for reducing traffic impacts on pollinators and other small, flying organisms of conservation concern.
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Zielin, S. B., Littlejohn, J., de Rivera, C. E., Smith, W. P., & Jacobson, S. L. (2016). Ecological investigations to select mitigation options to reduce vehicle-caused mortality of a threatened butterfly. Journal of Insect Conservation, 20(5), 845-854.