Current projects

Impact of roads on predator-prey relationships

Funding entity: Comunidad de Madrid (2018-T1/AMB-10374)

PI: Rafael Barrientos

Amount: 181,358 €     Start - End: 03/2019 - 03/2023

Roads generate numerous impacts on wildlife, from habitat loss or impoverishment, to barrier effects or vehicle-wildlife collision. This project proposes two interrelated lines of research: i) on stability of hot spots and ii) impact of roads on predation newtorks.

Specific objectives:
1. Temporal transferability of polecat roadkill models: by repeating the same sampling carried out in 2002-2004, we aim to assess whether the models are valid 17 years later. We expect that while the variables that determine the collisions are maintained over time, the distribution of the hot spots in space has varied due to the spatial changes in the variables that determine them.
2. Bayesian models of occupancy-detectability to correct bias in detectability: evaluate the importance of false absences; removal of corpses or their failure to detect by the investigator despite being present.
3. Influence of road density on the abundance of predators and prey: by means of photo-trapping in the field, we hope to verify that the 10x10 UTM grids with a high road density will not allow the existence of all species of carnivores. This predator release is expected to increase rabbit densities, and consequently, the number of requests to control their populations.
4. Review of the effects of roads on the mismatch of food chains: since typically certain groups (eg, carnivores) are reluctant to use the proximity of roads, others (their prey) take advantage to colonize road-asociated habitats.

(c) P. Quiles / R. Barrientos

Road-kill carcasses as sentinels for conservation: genetic study of an elusive species from agrosystems

Funding entity: Universidad Complutense - Banco Santander

PIs: JL Horreo (web)/Rafael Barrientos

Amount: 11,696 €     Start - End: 09/2023 - 09/2024

One of the main impacts of roads is the roadkill of wildlife. Being a question of conservation concern to be mitigated, these road carcasses can be employed for conservation purposes as well.

Specific objectives:
1. To test the genetic introgression from ferrets employed by hunters into wildlife polecats

2. To study the existence of past oscilations in polecat populations, population bottlenecks, etc in wild polecats from the Iberian Peninsula by inferring past demographic trends

3. To explore the current genetic structure and gen flow among wild polecat populations in the Iberian Peninsula


(c) R. Barrientos

The role of road effect zone on sexual coloration, stress and parasite load of Mediterranean lizards

PIs: Rafael Barrientos / Rodrigo Megía-Palma (web)

Start - End: 04/2018 - 10/2023

Roads degrade the surrounding habitat due to pollution and increased use of habitat by humans. In this project we explore:
1. How habitat degradation alters lizards' ability to termoregulate and how this mismatch increases their stress levels, together with parasite loads.
2. How lizards translocated from near the road to far and vice versa modify the expression of sexual coloration and their parasite loads.

3. The response of lizards to translocation, how manipulated individuals cover longer distances, this entailing a decrease in body condition and an increase in parasite load.

(c) C. Ponce / R. Barrientos