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Communication

How Is Wildlife Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic? Lockdown Effect on the Road Mortality of Hedgehogs

1
Centre for Interdisciplinary Research, The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Konstantynów 1J, 20-708 Lublin, Poland
2
State School of Higher Education in Chełm, Pocztowa 54, 22-100 Chełm, Poland
3
Department of Animal Genetics and Conservation, Warsaw University of Life Sciences-SGGW, Ciszewskiego 8, 02-786 Warsaw, Poland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Mathew Crowther and Mandy Paterson
Animals 2021, 11(3), 868; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030868
Received: 28 January 2021 / Revised: 10 March 2021 / Accepted: 15 March 2021 / Published: 18 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Ecology and Conservation)
In 2020, many countries around the world went into lockdown to limit the spread of COVID-19, and many people substantially reduced their outdoor activity and began socially distancing to avoid infection. Such rapid and widespread changes in the lives of people all over the world must have an impact on the environment and wildlife. Most of the current pandemic–wildlife papers focus on changes in the movement and behavior of wild animals. These changes, although interesting and worth documenting, may be ephemeral and may not have any significant effect on wildlife in the long run; they may only show how our daily presence may limit the presence and behavior of animals. In this paper, we suggest that scientific interest should be directed toward more permanent changes in the functioning of wildlife. One such topic is the lower road mortality rates of animals during the lockdown. In this study, hedgehog roadkill levels during the lockdown were over 50% lower than in the pre-pandemic years. Reduced road mortality in the case of hedgehogs may mean tens of thousands of survivors nationwide. We hypothesize that this may result in a change in the demographic and genetic characteristics of the population of hedgehogs, and also help to stop the long-term decline in the number of hedgehogs in Europe.
Globally, wildlife is affected by unprecedented changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this paper, the lockdown effect on the traffic-related mortality in hedgehogs in an urban area was studied. Comparing the pre-pandemic (2018 and 2019) and pandemic (2020) years, we showed that hedgehog roadkill levels during the lockdown period were over 50% lower (which means a decrease greater than the decrease in road traffic in the same period measured by the number of accidents or the average number of vehicles per day). Based on literature data, we showed that this may mean at least tens of thousands of hedgehogs have survived on a national scale. We report the need to start intensive research on the possible demographic and genetic effects of this unique phenomenon. We also ask how stable the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic will be on wildlife and whether the lockdown (which is an anthropause) may reverse the negative trends in the decline in the number of wild species, including hedgehogs. View Full-Text
Keywords: coronavirus; anthropause; road traffic; roadkill; population; Erinaceus coronavirus; anthropause; road traffic; roadkill; population; Erinaceus
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MDPI and ACS Style

Łopucki, R.; Kitowski, I.; Perlińska-Teresiak, M.; Klich, D. How Is Wildlife Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic? Lockdown Effect on the Road Mortality of Hedgehogs. Animals 2021, 11, 868. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030868

AMA Style

Łopucki R, Kitowski I, Perlińska-Teresiak M, Klich D. How Is Wildlife Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic? Lockdown Effect on the Road Mortality of Hedgehogs. Animals. 2021; 11(3):868. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030868

Chicago/Turabian Style

Łopucki, Rafał, Ignacy Kitowski, Magdalena Perlińska-Teresiak, and Daniel Klich. 2021. "How Is Wildlife Affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic? Lockdown Effect on the Road Mortality of Hedgehogs" Animals 11, no. 3: 868. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030868

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