The COVID-19 pandemic and its related human activity shutdowns provide unique opportunities for biodiversity monitoring through what has been termed the “anthropause” or the “great human confinement experiment.” The pandemic caused immense disruption to human activity in the northeastern United States in the spring of 2020, with notable reductions in traffic levels. These shutdowns coincided with the seasonal migration of adult amphibians, which are typically subject to intense vehicle-impact mortality. Using data collected as part of an annual community science monitoring program in Maine from 2018 to 2021, we examined how amphibian mortality probabilities responded to reductions in traffic during the pandemic. While we detected a 50% decline for all amphibians, this was driven entirely by reductions in frog mortality. Wildlife collision data from the Maine Department of Transportation on other wildlife species support our finding of drastic declines in wildlife road mortality in spring 2020 when compared with immediately previous and subsequent years. Additionally, we find that frogs suffer significantly higher road mortality than salamanders, particularly when conditions are warmer and wetter.
Conservation Science and Practice
Society for Conservation Biology
LeClair, G., Chatfield, M. W. H., Wood, Z., Parmelee, J., & Frederick, C. A. (2021). Influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on amphibian road mortality. Conservation Science and Practice, 3(11), e535.
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LeClair, Gregory; Chatfield, Matthew H.; Wood, Zachary; Parmelee, Jeffrey; and Frederick, Cheryle A., "Influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on amphibian road mortality" (2021). Teaching, Learning & Research Documents. 86.