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      Investigating the Role of the Eurasian Badger ( Meles meles) in the Nationwide Distribution of the Western European Hedgehog ( Erinaceus europaeus) in England

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          Abstract

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          The hedgehog is a species known to many in society. What is perhaps less known, is that the hedgehog has been declining across large parts of Europe, including the United Kingdom. Effective hedgehog conservation requires a sound understanding of the causes of the decline. A potential cause is the badger, whose population has been recovering in recent years. The badger is an intraguild predator of the hedgehog, meaning that not only do the two species share the same food, like snails and earthworms, but badgers also predate on hedgehogs. Our study investigates how the presence of hedgehogs is related to the presence of badgers, along with other landscape features. Using information from two nationwide citizen science surveys, we first determine where both species can be found and then identify which factors best explain hedgehog presence. We found that the badger was indeed important, and hedgehogs were less likely to be found in areas where badgers were likely to be found. Interestingly, hedgehogs were also likely to be found in arable land, a habitat not directly thought to be favourable for hedgehogs. Badgers may, therefore, be an important consideration when designing hedgehog conservation plans, and further research of these impacts is needed.

          Abstract

          Biodiversity is declining globally, which calls for effective conservation measures. It is, therefore, important to investigate the drivers behind species presence at large spatial scales. The Western European hedgehog ( Erinaceus europaeus) is one of the species facing declines in parts of its range. Yet, drivers of Western European hedgehog distribution at large spatial scales remain largely unknown. At local scales, the Eurasian badger ( Meles meles), an intraguild predator of the Western European hedgehog, can affect both the abundance and the distribution of the latter. However, the Western European hedgehog and the Eurasian badger have shown to be able to co-exist at a landscape scale. We investigated whether the Eurasian badger may play a role in the likelihood of the presence of the Western European hedgehog throughout England by using two nationwide citizen science surveys. Although habitat-related factors explained more variation in the likelihood of Western European hedgehog presence, our results suggest that Eurasian badger presence negatively impacts the likelihood of Western European hedgehog presence. Intraguild predation may, therefore, be influencing the nationwide distribution of hedgehogs in England, and further research is needed about how changes in badger densities and intensifying agricultural practices that remove shelters like hedgerows may influence hedgehog presence.

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          Most cited references 31

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          CONFRONTING MULTICOLLINEARITY IN ECOLOGICAL MULTIPLE REGRESSION

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            Geostatistical Tools for Modeling and Interpreting Ecological Spatial Dependence

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              Hierarchical Partitioning

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Animals (Basel)
                Animals (Basel)
                animals
                Animals : an Open Access Journal from MDPI
                MDPI
                2076-2615
                09 October 2019
                October 2019
                : 9
                : 10
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Resource Ecology Group, Wageningen University, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
                [2 ]Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-907 36 Umeå, Sweden
                [3 ]School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham TW20 0EX, UK; drp.w.bright@ 123456gmail.com
                [4 ]Department of Animal Ecology & Physiology, Radboud University, 6500 GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands; Andrew.Allen@ 123456science.ru.nl
                Author notes
                [* ]Correspondence: Anouschka.Hof@ 123456wur.nl
                Article
                animals-09-00759
                10.3390/ani9100759
                6826801
                31581679
                © 2019 by the authors.

                Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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