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Earth News

The Science of Roadkill 52

Hugh Pickens writes "Sarah Harris writes that roadkill may not be glamorous, but wildlife ecologist Danielle Garneau says dead critters carry lots of valuable information providing an opportunity to learn about wildlife and pinpoint migratory patterns, invasive species, and predatory patterns. 'We're looking at a fine scale at patterns of animal movement — maybe we can pick up migratory patterns, maybe we can see a phenology change,' says Garneau. 'And also, in the long term, if many of these animals are threatened or they're in a decline, the hope would be that we could share this information with people who could make changes.' Garneau turns students out into the world to find dead animals, document them and collect the data using a smartphone app RoadkillGarneau and she has already received data from across New York, as well as Vermont, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Florida and Colorado. Participants take photos of the road kill, and the app uploads them through EpiCollect, which pinpoints the find on the map. Participants can then update the data to include any descriptors of the animal such as its species; sex; how long the dead animal had been there; if and when it was removed; the weather conditions; and any predators around it. 'People talk a lot about technology cutting us off from nature,' says Garneau. 'But I found that with the road kill project, it's the opposite. You really engage with the world around you — even if it is a smelly skunk decaying on the side of the road.'"
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The Science of Roadkill

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