This material is published by the Journal of Zoology (2006, vol 269, pp 349-356).
Abundance of hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in relation to the density and distribution of badgers (Meles meles).
R. P. Young, J. Davison, I. D. Trewby, G. J. Wilson, R. J. Delahay and C. P. Doncaster
Badgers Meles meles are intraguild predators of hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus
and have been shown to have a major effect on their abundance and behaviour at a
localized scale. Previous studies have predicted the exclusion of hedgehogs from
rural habitats in areas where badgers are abundant. The two species coexist at the
landscape scale, however, as hedgehogs use suburban habitats, which are thought
to provide a refuge from the effects of badger predation. We carried out surveys of
hedgehog abundance and studied the use of spatial refugia by hedgehogs in
relation to badger density and distribution in 10 study sites in the Midlands and
south-west regions of England. Surveys confirmed that hedgehogs were almost
absent from pasture fields in rural habitats, with their distribution concentrated in
amenity grassland fields in suburban areas. However, although suburban habitats
are less frequently used by badgers than rural areas, and therefore represented
spatial refugia for hedgehogs, the probability of occurrence and abundance of
hedgehogs varied in relation to the density of badger setts in the surrounding area.
As sett density increased, both the probability of occurrence of hedgehogs and
their abundance decreased. A generalized linear model predicted that the probability
of hedgehog occurrence in suburban habitats declined towards zero in areas
of high badger density. The most probable explanation is the negative effect of
high badger abundance on the ability of hedgehogs to move between patches of
suburban habitat. The present study concords with results from previous surveys
and experimental studies, which found a strong negative spatial relationship
between hedgehogs and badgers. It also provides correlative evidence that
intraguild predation can exclude intraguild prey from productive habitats.
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