Michelle Anderson

Concordia University
Observing the effect of human presence on the usage of crossing structures by medium and large mammals along Highway 10, Quebec

Speaker: Michelle Anderson1 Co-authors: Daniella LoScerbo2, Caroline Daguet3, Jochen A.G. Jaeger1 1Concordia University, Department of Geography, Planning and Environment 2Concordia University, Department of Biology, 3Corridor appalachien, Eastman, QC

The unprecedented pace of road construction and road network development is causing detrimental impacts on numerous wildlife populations around the world. Existing road, watercourse or railway crossing structures may serve as crossing opportunities for wildlife. However, little is known about their use by wildlife and the relevance of the level of human activity. Nine underpasses along Highway 10 in Quebec’s Eastern Townships were continuously monitored using infrared cameras for over a year. We hypothesized that increasing levels of human activity would result in decreasing likelihood of mammal discovery and successful use of these underpasses. A statistical analysis was conducted to investigate the effect of human activity levels while accounting for the influence of meteorological variables. The statistical results provide new evidence on the effect of temperature, humidity, snow, and human activity on wildlife crossings. High levels of human activity completely deterred mammal presence and use of underpasses, while low to moderate levels of human activity did not show a significant effect on mammal activity. Temperature was found to have a positive effect on mammal activity at the majority of the sites, whereas humidity had a negative effect. Additionally, snow had a negative effect on the presence and full crossings of all mammals at one underpass.The results show that existing structures can be used by various species of medium-sized and large mammals (white-tailed deer, coyote, bobcat, black bear, woodchuck, mink, raccoon, red fox, skunk, and porcupine), but not by all species that are present in the region.