The problem of animal road mortality, amphibians in particular, is known in Ukraine. But practical solutions, which are tightly connected to the authorities, are not on the agenda. The consequences of such “ignoration” can be very expensive soon.
The research territory of Transcarpathia is located on the west of Ukraine and is represented by different landscapes including mountain and lowland ones. Transcarpathia covers only 12.8 thousand sq. km but borders with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary & Romania. The research was realized in 2019 by means of road transects within the region repeatedly (2 times in spring, per 1 time in summer & fall). Total length of the main roads checked for herpetofauna roadkills was about 850 km. The material was collected manually; it was identified and counted afterwards. The remnants were removed from the road surface immediately after to avoid extra-counts.
According to our results there are 11 amphibian species found killed on the roads of Transcarpathia (its over 60% of all the regional fauna of amphibians). 85.5% of all the roadkills are presented by only two species: Bufo bufo (68.9%) & Rana temporaria (16.6%), which are typical and widespread all over Ukraine. Rest of the species are: Salamandra salamandra (2.2%), Bombina bombina (0.2%), Pelobates fuscus (0.7%), Bufotes viridis (0.4%), Hyla arborea (2.6%), Rana arvalis (4.2%), R. dalmatina (2.2%), Pelophylax ridibundus (0.7%) & P. esculentus (1.3%). Altogether, there were found 454 dead amphibians on the roads.
Reptilia roadkill results show that they are much less abundant than amphibians (28 in total). Altogether there are 6 species of them found killed on the roads (its 75% of all the species of reptiles in the region). 71% of all the roadkills is presented by two species of snakes: Natrix natrix (32%) & N. tessellata (39%). Rest of the reptile species are: Emys orbicularis (7%), Anguis fragilis (4%), Lacerta agilis (11%) & Vipera berus (7%).
We can assume that at least 10 of the 84 investigated road sections need to be under protection. 6 of them are located in the lowland part of Transcarpathia and 4 in the mountains. Their list is given below: Chop, Mala & Velyka Dobron, Shenborn, Dunkovytsia, Vynohradiv, Uzhok, Hankovytsia, and two road sections in Ust-Chorna. These are the locations where we had comparatively high numbers of roadkills or high species diversity of the victims including National Red Data Book species of herpetofauna.
During the season of investigation we put frog fences in the location named Zabrid within Uzhanskyi National Nature Park to protect the Fire Salamander. They functioned well and were under permanent control of schoolchildren from the local secondary school under the leadership of their biology teacher and the Nature Park staff. 35 amphibians were saved as a result.
We want to pay attention to the broadening of roadkill research geography in Ukraine.
This work was realized under the financial support of the Rufford Foundation (UK).