Roads pose one of the greatest contemporary threats to wildlife globally and can increase habitat fragmentation and wildlife mortality as well as decrease habitat and population connectivity. Identifying how different road surfaces influence wildlife populations is an emerging conservation concern. These road impacts may also be influenced by additional factors including presence of suitable habitat patches, traffic volume and flow, and road density within home ranges. In southern Texas, the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) is an endangered felid that is threatened by habitat loss and road mortality. Understanding effects of different road surfaces on animal crossing patterns are key to understanding how ocelots may perceive the landscape. In this study we used a historic and contemporary telemetry dataset of 69 ocelots (36 males, 33 females) in two isolated populations; the Refuge population in Cameron County from 1982 to 2001, and the Ranch population in Kenedy and Willacy counties from 2011 to 2020 to examine ocelot ecology in relation to roads. We evaluated how within-home range road density varied by road surface, sex, and traffic volume. We further evaluated how these factors influence road crossing rates within and across geographic populations. Using generalized linear mixed models, preliminary data from the more urbanized Cameron County indicates ocelot home ranges had higher paved road densities than surrounding areas. Further, males in these areas crossed paved roads more often than females. These results enhance our understanding of how ocelot movements and home ranges are affected by road types in different landscapes and aid in mitigating ocelot road mortality.
Terrestrial wildlife (vertebrate and/or invertebrate) and ecosystem interactions
road crossing patterns