Improving Amphibian Roadway Mitigation to Decrease Mortality and Increase Connectivity by Experimenting with Ecopassage Design

The Nelsonville bypass, completed in 2013, runs through the largest remaining tract of continuous forest in Ohio, including wetlands and amphibian migration routes. Such habitat fragmentation affects wildlife populations by increasing mortality and reducing connectivity. Thus, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) installed wildlife mitigation measures, including two amphibian ecopassages with plastic barrier fencing along the new stretch of State Route 78 (SR 78). Barriers limit access to the roadway and direct animals toward ecopassages, which are corridors that channel animals safely over or under the roadway. Researchers at Ohio University have been studying the effectiveness of the amphibian barrier-ecopassage system in place along SR 78 since March 2015. Using cameras, it was detected that 25 individual amphibians were in the ecopassages, and only eight successfully traversed the length of the tunnel. Meanwhile, about 14,000 amphibians were found dead on the road. The low level of ecopassage use implies that these structures are not adequately reducing roadway mortality. The goal of this research is to improve upon the barrier-ecopassage system in place along SR 78. The Principal Investigator (PI) will test alternative ecopassage designs to identify the most effective design. The PI will also assess which design provides the most connectivity. A matrix of recommendations will be provided within the first 6 months of the project at which point ODOT will chose a method and install the roadway mitigation structure. Once installed, the PI will monitor activity and effectiveness. ODOT strives to maintain a world class transportation system. This is an innovative project designed to address the impacts of roads on amphibians, including the effectiveness of mitigation measures. This project will provide guidance on the preservation of native biodiversity, make mitigation work more effective, improve the safety of people and wildlife, and enhance mitigation capacity.

Language

  • English

Project

  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $538,790.29
  • Contract Numbers:

    30218

    135504

    104964

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Ohio Department of Transportation

    Research Program
    1980 West Broad Street
    Columbus, OH  United States  43223
  • Project Managers:

    Perlik, Matt

    Raymond, Matt

    Austin, Mike

  • Performing Organizations:

    Ohio University, Athens

    Athens, OH  United States  45701
  • Principal Investigators:

    Kuchta, Shawn

  • Start Date: 20170302
  • Expected Completion Date: 20191202
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01628058
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Ohio Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: 30218, 135504, 104964
  • Files: RiP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Mar 2 2017 10:48AM