1 Tahrcountry Musings: Risk perception associated with roads

Monday, May 02, 2011

Risk perception associated with roads

Road proximity and traffic flow perceived as potential predation risks: evidence from the Tibetan antelope in the Kekexili National Nature Reserve, China

Xinming Lian
, Tongzuo Zhang , Yifan Cao , Jianping Su  and Simon Thirgood
Wildlife Research 38(2) 141-146, Published: 20 April 2011

Here is an interesting Paper on animal behavior connected with roads.
The risk-disturbance hypothesis says that animals exhibit risk-avoidance behaviours when exposed to human disturbance.  The animals perceive the disturbance as a predatory threat.

In this study the researchers examined whether Tibetan antelopes (Pantholops hodgsoni) exhibit risk-avoidance behaviour with proximity to a major highway and with increasing traffic.
The researchers used focal-animal sampling to observe the behaviour of Tibetan antelopes. The behaviours were categorised as foraging, vigilance, resting, moving, or other associated activity. The time, frequency, and duration of foraging and vigilance were calculated.

It was noted that as distance from the road increased, time spent foraging and foraging duration increased. Foraging frequency, time spent being vigilant and vigilance frequency decreased. The results indicate that that there is a risk perception associated with roads. Tibetan antelopes presented more risk-avoidance behaviours during high-traffic periods compared with low-traffic periods.

The researchers sign off saying  “The consequences of risk-avoidance behaviour should be reflected in wildlife management by considering human disturbance and road design”.

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