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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Human transportation network as ecological barrier for wildlife on Brazilian Pantanal-Cerrado corridors

  • Author(s): Fischer, Wagner A.
  • Ramos-Neto, Mario B.
  • Silveira, Leandro
  • Jacomo, Anah T.A.
  • et al.

Highway impacts on terrestrial fauna are known as a serious mortality source for several species around the world. Despite the international concerns about this issue, only recently has this question been included in Brazilian policies of transportation.

Brazilian Pantanal and Cerrado biomes and corridors are known as two of the broadest wildlife sanctuaries in South America, and their fauna movements has been drastically affected by road development. The last 13 years of road fauna-monitoring databases at Pantanal and Cerrado highways has shown a fast evolution of wildlife mortality caused by vehicle traffic.

Pantanal and Cerrado road fauna has been represented by more than 140 species; 16 of them are considered endangered by Brazilian Government as Chrysocyon brachyurus, Speothos venaticus, Leopardus pardalis, Oncifelis colocolo, Panthera onca, Puma concolor, Pteronura brasiliensis, Blastocerus dichotomus, and Myrmecophaga tridactyla, one of the most vulnerable species, reaching more than 200 road kills per year.

In Pantanal, highway mortality of wildlife multiplied eight times in the last 10 years. Along 1,350km of federal roads around Pantanal (from Caceres/MT to Corumba/MS) road kill estimate escalated from 1,120 deaths/year in 1992 to 8,090 deaths/year in 2002. In Cerrado areas, road kill rate evolution takes the same pattern. On 310km of roads around Emas National Park, highway mortality of fauna was close to 405 deaths/year in 1999, and it reached 540 deaths/year at the end of 2002, that is, an increase of 33 percent in three years.

We mapped the most relevant wildlife corridors for applying road fauna management and landscape design technologies to allow safe crossings between animal and human corridors (under or over passages).

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