New research throws light on factors associated with the decline of Britain's hedgehogs

phys.org | 9/7/2018 | Staff
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Results from the first systematic survey of rural hedgehog populations in England and Wales using footprint tracking tunnels has been published in Scientific Reports today.

The research, titled "Reduced occupancy of hedgehogs in rural England and Wales: the influence of habitat and an asymmetric intra-guild predator," investigates the effects of the availability of key habitat types and badger (Meles meles) sett density on native hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus). The results show that while badger sett density is negatively correlated with hedgehog presence, there was evidence of both species co-existing and hedgehogs being positively associated with built habitat (e.g. houses). More worryingly, both hedgehogs and badger setts were not recorded at many of the sites surveyed, suggesting there is a much wider land management issue in our countryside affecting both species.

Research - Nottingham - Trent - University - University

The research, led by Nottingham Trent University and the University of Reading, and funded by the People's Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, surveyed 261 rural sites covering all habitat types (7 land classes from arable farmland to upland sites) across England and Wales between 2014 and 2015 (18 sites in Wales, 243 in England) using footprint tracking tunnels. Many sites were surveyed by volunteers.

Ben Williams, Ph.D. student from the University of Reading, the primary author of this paper, explains: "We found that although hedgehogs were generally widely distributed across England and Wales, they were actually found at a worryingly low number (21 percent) of sites. We also found that hedgehogs were absent from 71 percent of sites that did not have badger setts either, indicating that both hedgehogs and badgers may be absent from large portions of rural England and Wales."

Hedgehogs - Sites - Badger - Setts - Percent

"We found hedgehogs at 55 sites. We also found that badger setts were present at 49 percent of these sites, demonstrating that badgers and hedgehogs can, and do,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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