Canopy bridges are an economical mitigation reducing the road barrier effect for three of four species of monkeys in Diani, Kenya
journal contributionposted on 27.06.2022, 08:02 authored by Pamela M.K. Cunneyworth, Andrea Donaldson, Fredrick Onyancha
For primates, canopy bridges can reduce the road barrier effect. Yet little information exists to predict species bridge use. We examined bridge use across a 9 km suburban road in Diani, Kenya, in three survey years (Nbridges: 21 = 2004, 27 = 2011, 29 = 2020) by four sympatric species of monkeys. The asphalt road is 6 m wide with a 50 km/h speed limit. Roadside observers recorded ground (N = 4931) and bridge (N = 3413) crossings, crossing direction, and traffic volume. Colobus (Colobus angolensis palliatus), Sykes’ monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis albogularis), and vervets (Chlorocebus pygerythrus hilgerti) used the bridges while baboons (Papio cynocephalus cynocephalus) rarely did. Crossing rates (Sykes’>vervet>colobus>baboon) did not fit our predictions based on species’ attributes of stratum preference (arboreal>terrestrial) or body mass (small>large), while the interaction between these attributes was more informative. Crossings were bidirectional. Colobus crossed bridges during higher traffic volumes than on the ground, whereas we found the opposite for vervets. Sykes’ monkeys crossed at similar traffic volumes on the ground and bridges. The mean annual bridge cost was USD 157, deriving a cost per crossing as < USD 0.10, though it undervalues the savings in ecosystem services, tourism benefits, and contributions to protecting colobus, a vulnerable species. While we consider this highly economical, funders and road engineers will ultimately determine if it is so.