Researching Bird Mortality on Santa Cruz Island Highway

Researching Bird Mortality on Santa Cruz Island Highway

This project is currently Active

The incidence of collisions between birds and cars in the road between Puerto Ayora and Canal de Itabaca seems rather high. The assessment of the frequency on which these events happen would enable us to illustrate areas with higher incidence, and to suggest mechanisms to mitigate this problem.

This project aims to offer evidence on what, where, when, these events occur, and to suggest alternatives to reduce it.

Our Research Team

Gustavo Jiménez-Uzcátegui

Principal Investigator

Gustavo is a Wildlife Veterinarian and Researcher at CDRS since 2001. He works in different projects covering various topics of ecology and health of different taxa, principally with birds. In the...

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Other collaborators:

Volunteers: José Granizo, Luciana Liberoff and Valentina Madejska.
GNPD: Karina Bedoya, Viviana Carrera, Fidelino Gaona, Andrea Guerrero, Roberto Jiménez, Andrea Loyola, Galo Quezada and Evelyn Vera.
Future Leaders: Josué Baque and Sofía Lucas.

Project Details

A finch found dead by car collision on the Puerto Ayora and Canal de Itabaca highway.
A finch found dead by car collision on the Puerto Ayora and Canal de Itabaca highway. Photo by: Juan Manuel García, CDF.

Highways are part of human communities’ socio-economic development. However, they can have negative effects on natural zones, such as fragmenting habitats, decreasing wildlife populations, polluting the environment, and trampling animals, such as landbirds. Despite this critical influence, highways also provide birds with food, water and resting zones.

Puerto Ayora highway.
Puerto Ayora highway. Photo by: Juan Manuel García, CDF.

The highway on Santa Cruz, which began operating in 1974, crosses the island from south to north (Puerto Ayora - Itabaca Canal). The number of cars circulating on the island has increased significantly in recent years: from approximately 28 in the 1980s to over 1100 at present. Studies of automotive impact on the wild birds of Santa Cruz have been conducted in 1980, 2001, 2003 and 2004-2006. After twelve years, and with evidence on hand to show the significance of this issue, the CDF was replicating this study in 2018, following the methodology used in 2006.

This is a bi-institutional project (CDF-GNPD).

Our main goal is to determine the impact of vehicles on land birds on the Puerto Ayora – Itabaca Canal road, especially, given the recent changes to roadway usage.

Our results

During the 2018 research, 11 monitoring of vehicle-landbird collision incidents in the Puerto Ayora – Itabaca Canal route. During the monthly monitoring around 300 landbirds collected were killed by car strikes. The number may be higher, but has not been documented, because there are many ‘carrion-eating’ or scavengers species (cats, rats, storks, owls) that feed on road killed animals, removing the evidence of incidents.

Collecting data during a monitoring of Santa Cruz highway.
Collecting data during a monitoring of Santa Cruz highway. Photo by: Juan Manuel García, CDF.

Outreach

Informational lectures about the preliminary findings have been given at the GNPD Science Congress and at the Tomás de Berlanga School. In 2019 we are carrying out a campaign that aims to increase awareness among drivers about the problem of bird collision.

Keywords: Bird run-over, bird collision, fragmenting habitats, vehicles

Bibliographical References

  • Jiménez-Uzcátegui, G., & Betancourt, F. (2008). Avifauna vs automotores. Informe Galápagos 2007- 2008, 111–114. FCD, PNG & INGALA. Puerto Ayora, Ecuador.

The “Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands”, in French “Fondation Charles Darwin pour les îles Galapagos”, Association International sans but lucratif (“AISBL”), has its registered office located at Chaussée de la Hulpe 177 Bte 20 (rez) - 1170, Brussels, and is registered under the trade registry of Brussels under the number 0409.359.103.

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