California Roadkill Observation System (CROS)

Interaction Type public -> government
Trigger Event The collectors of the roadkill data are a University based research organization. Their primary role is to understand the ecological, wildlife behavior, and how transportation contributions to this problem.
Domain Information about where wildlife vehicle collisions occur, what animals are involved, on what kinds of roads are collisions frequent, and other data can help inform policy, management, and financial investment in reducing road-kill.  The mission is to provide a safer environment for wildlife in relationship with California motorways.
Organisation Road Ecology Center at UC Davis
Actors Members of the public are asked to contribute. There is no experience necessary. Anonymous contributions are possible.
Data sets in use CROS develops a spatial database which is used to store all of the roadkill information. GIS analysis is performed on this database. Web mapping applications are built from the database.
Process The content on CROS employs a Creative Commons license so all of the contributions are openly available. Contributors can register if they wish to have their profile linked with contributions on the website.
Feedback The contributor of roadkill information is provided with feedback to state that the contribution has been successfully submitted to the CROS system. If contributors register on the website their name is placed beside any contribution they make. All contributions are made publicly available. The Top 20 Species Observed and the Top 20 observers are listed on the website.
Goal The collectors of the roadkill data are a University based research organization. Their primary role is to understand the ecological, wildlife behavior, and how transportation contributions to this problem. This includes the application of GIS and statistical modeling to predict road-kill hotspots, to measure the contributing factors to road-kill, to quantify impacts, and to estimate benefits of different remedial actions.
Side effects The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Information Center for the Environment (ICE) teamed up to create a guidance manual for California.
Contact Point The information for this case-study taken from the CROS website and associated documentation.

This California Roadkill Observation System (CROS) system can be used to record observations from reporters out in the field who come across identifiable road-killed wildlife. This includes type of animal and/or species is found, where the road-kill was located, when it was found, how long it might have been dead, pictures of the road-kill, and any additional details about road or traffic conditions. CROS displays a summary of this information for different animal groups across the state. Information about where wildlife vehicle collisions occur, what animals are involved, on what kinds of roads are collisions frequent, and other data can help inform policy, management, and financial investment in reducing road-kill. The mission is to provide a safer environment for wildlife in relationship with California motorways.

The collectors of the roadkill data are a University based research organization. Their primary role is to understand the ecological, wildlife behavior, and how transportation contributions to this problem. This includes the application of GIS and statistical modeling to predict road-kill hotspots, to measure the contributing factors to road-kill, to quantify impacts, and to estimate benefits of different remedial actions. The research team plan to collaborate with other organizations to obtain funding to support this work and to inform planning of structures and management practices to reduce wildlife vehicle collisions. The CROS project includes past and current participation by over 900 volunteer-scientists, including several hundred academic, agency, and NGO biologists and natural historians. More than 25,000 observations have been logged on the website by volunteers between August 2009 and the present. The observations are used in a geographic information system (GIS) to find stretches of highway where wildlife-vehicle collisions (WVC) occur more frequently (high density) and places where there are statistically-significant clusters of WVC (hotspots). By contributing wildlife observation data, citizen scientists help researchers understand where wildlife live and the threats they face from (mostly) human activities.

The Google Maps interface showing roadkill observational data for the previous 90 days. Blue pins represent mammals whilst yellow pins represent birds
The Google Maps interface showing roadkill observational data for the previous 90 days. Blue pins represent mammals whilst yellow pins represent birds

The research organisation collecting this data in University of California Davis hope to use this data and their GIS analysis of the roadkill problem to inform transportation planning in the state of California.  The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and the Information Center for the Environment (ICE) teamed up to create a guidance manual for California. It is one component of a larger Caltrans strategy to 1) catalog sources of information and knowledge about wildlife crossing, 2) generate, accumulate, and disseminate this information, and 3) develop guidelines for best practices and effective strategies to address road/wildlife conflicts.

CROS has been successful in gathering a large amount of data. In April 2014 the Total Number of Roadkill Observations: 25533, Total Number of Registered Observers: 969, and the Total Number of Unique Species Observed: 377 An Android application is available but the website is the most stable and robust means of submitting contributions.

Main Lessons

  • CROS hosts the roadkill Android application on GitHUB as they are seeking to crowdsource some fixes to the code base for the application.
  • CALTRANS (California Department of Transportation) have used the data from CROS and the expertise at Road Ecology Center at UC Davis to develop a guidance manual for effective strategies to address road/wildlife conflicts in California.
  • The web-based template for reporting to CROS is easy to use. It also implements some measures to attempt to prevent the entry of erroneous data – such as drop-down-lists and selection of geographic locations from a web-based maps.
  • Contributors are encouraged to upload photographs of the roadkill – photographs of the surrounding area to provide a context of the environment (roadside conditions (e.g. vegetated shoulder, fence, or barrier, etc.)) Additional information including Road Type (drawn from a pre-defined list) and Roadway Speed Limit are also available
  • CROS is an excellent demonstration where VGI has helped bring together citizens, researchers and policy makers from ecology and transportation to design sustainable transportation systems based on an understanding of the impact of roads on natural landscapes and human communities.
  • While ‘on-the-spot’ observations are the most popular type of contribution the website offers training materials on how to properly survey for roadkill. From Biodiversity monitoring the website offers contributors advice on transect management – to observe the same segments of roads at specific periods of time every month.
  • While all content on the website is Creative Commons it is not clear how the data could be downloaded as a KML, shapefile, GeoJSON etc.

2 thoughts on “California Roadkill Observation System (CROS)

  1. Hi

    I lead CROS (above) and it is not a project of ICE (UC Davis), nor has it ever been. It is a project of the Road Ecology Center at UC Davis. Feel free to contact me: Fraser Shilling (fmshilling at ucdavis dot edu)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s