Highway mortality of snakes in the sonoran desert of southern Arizona

Philip C. Rosen, Charles H. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


We present an algebraic method for estimating highway mortality in snakes, based on careful data collection during low-speed driving on paved roads. A total of 368 snakes (104 live, 264 dead) were recorded over four years on State Route 85 from Why to Lukeville, Pima Co., Arizona, during 15 525 km of road-cruising; mostly within Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. We computed an estimate of 2383 snakes killed 13·5/km/year) during the four years on this stretch of pavement, estimate that actual numbers killed would be closer to 4000 (22·5/km/year). Two taxa of special conservation interest, the Mexican rosy boa Lichanura trivirgata and the Organ Pipe shovelnosed snake Chionactis palarostris, appear to be relatively strongly impacted by highway mortality. Overall, along our 44·1 km transect, the estimated highway mortality amounts to removal of 5 km2 of snake population over the four years of study. It is clear that roadways, especially if paved, substantially damage snake populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-148
Number of pages6
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994


  • Sonoran Desert
  • conservation
  • estimation
  • highway mortality
  • snakes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


Dive into the research topics of 'Highway mortality of snakes in the sonoran desert of southern Arizona'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this