Image Credit: LACTWG
Road ecology: An emerging research field in Ecuador
The paved road network of Ecuador includes almost 10,000 km, and it is planned to be expanded in 16 % for 2030. There are only five studies estimating the impacts of roads on wildlife mortality, therefore mitigation measures do not exist. Since 2020, a group of road ecology research (Red ecuatoriana para el monitoreo de fauna atropellada) was formed to work with citizens compiling roadkill events around the country, this group emerged as an initiative to complement a PhD project where the impacts of roads on wildlife are being studied.
You can participate in the citizen science project called “Red ecuatoriana para el monitoreo de fauna atropellada” (REMFA). The purpose of this initiative is for citizens to learn about the impact that roads have on wildlife populations, in addition to involving them directly in the compilation of wildlife roadkill events. So far, about 850 observations have been registered and shared via WhatsApp 0998031526, Facebook and Twitter.
According to studies conducted and being conducted, the most impacted species are: the Andean White-eared Opossum (Didelphis pernigra), the Cane Toad (Rhinella marina), and the Common Opossum (Didelphis marsupialis).
In less than two months the research group “Red ecuatoriana para el monitoreo de fauna atropellada” has compiled almost 100 roadkill events of 42 species that have been reported by people all over the country. Noteworthy reports have included the Western Lowland Olingo (Bassaricyon medius), Tayra (Eira barbara), the Northern Tamandua (Tamandua mexicana), Margay (Leopardus wiedii), and Culpeo (Lycalopex culpaeus).
Although research in road ecology is scarce, since 2014 a few researchers have explored this field that has meant the publication of scientific papers, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate theses.