Reduced occupancy of hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in rural England and Wales: the influence of habitat and an asymmetric intra-guild predator

Williams, B.M., Baker, P.J., Thomas, E., Wilson, G., Judge, J. and Yarnell, R.W. ORCID: 0000-0001-6584-7374, 2018. Reduced occupancy of hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in rural England and Wales: the influence of habitat and an asymmetric intra-guild predator. Scientific Reports, 8 (1): 12156. ISSN 2045-2322

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Abstract

Agricultural landscapes have become increasingly intensively managed resulting in population declines across a broad range of taxa, including insectivores such as the hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus). Hedgehog declines have also been attributed to an increase in the abundance of badgers (Meles meles), an intra-guild predator. The status of hedgehogs across the rural landscape at large spatial scales is, however, unknown. In this study, we used footprint tracking tunnels to conduct the first national survey of rural hedgehog populations in England and Wales. Single and two-species occupancy modelling was used to quantify hedgehog occupancy in relation to habitat and predator covariates. Hedgehog occupancy was low (22% nationally), and significantly negatively related to badger sett density and positively related to the built environment. Hedgehogs were also absent from 71% of sites that had no badger setts, indicating that large areas of the rural landscape are not occupied by hedgehogs. Our results provide the first field based national survey of hedgehogs, providing a robust baseline for future monitoring. Furthermore, the combined effects of increasing badger abundance and intensive agriculture may have provided a perfect storm for hedgehogs in rural Britain, leading to worryingly low levels of occupancy over large spatial scales.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Scientific Reports
Creators: Williams, B.M., Baker, P.J., Thomas, E., Wilson, G., Judge, J. and Yarnell, R.W.
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
Date: 2018
Volume: 8
Number: 1
ISSN: 2045-2322
Identifiers:
NumberType
10.1038/s41598-018-30130-4DOI
30130Publisher Item Identifier
Rights: Open Access: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 24 Sep 2018 08:31
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2018 08:54
URI: http://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/34546

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