Even though birds are some of the most common road-killed animals, it remains to be determined whether avian roadkills are related to breeding numbers and breeding success, mainly due to a lack of study areas that monitor breeding populations and roadkills. We studied whether barn owl breeding numbers and breeding success are related to roadkills. We monitored yearly barn owl breeding numbers (2174 breeding attempts and 1682 adults ringed) and breeding success (9380 nestlings ringed) and monitored 95 km of roads weekly for roadkills from 2009 to 2017 in the Beit Shean and Emek Yizreel Valleys, Israel. During the study period, we documented 1073 road-killed barn owls, of which 328 were ring recoveries. The highest mortality occurred between July to September, coinciding with the barn owl post-fledging period. The number of breeding pairs and the number of nestlings ringed were positively related to the total number of barn owl roadkill, the proportion of roadkill ring recoveries, and the proportion of ring recovered roadkills in the first year of their life. First-year owls represent the majority of ringed owls, accounting for 64.6%, while adult owls compose 35.4%. Notably, a substantial fraction of adult ring recoveries, encompassing 67.2%, may pertain to floaters since we did not observe these individuals as breeding adults. Even though more females were found as roadkill ring recoveries, the proportion of male/female ring recoveries from roadkills was similar to that of adults ringed at the nest boxes. This study is the first that shows that barn owl roadkills are density-dependent and demonstrate the importance of monitoring breeding and population numbers in roadkill studies.
- animal–vehicle collisions
- barn owl
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecological Modeling
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Nature and Landscape Conservation