This material is published in PLoS ONE (2014, 9(4): e95477), the only definitive repository of the content that has been certified and accepted after peer review. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0095477


Impacts of removing badgers on localised counts of hedgehogs

Iain D. Trewby, Richard Young, Robbie A. McDonald, Gavin J. Wilson, John Davison, Neil Walker, Andrew Robertson, C. Patrick Doncaster and Richard J. Delahay

 

Experimental evidence of the interactions among mammalian predators that eat or compete with one another is rare, due to the ethical and logistical challenges of managing wild populations in a controlled and replicated way. Here, we report on the opportunistic use of a replicated and controlled culling experiment (the Randomised Badger Culling Trial) to investigate the relationship between two sympatric predators: European badgers Meles meles and western European hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus. In areas of preferred habitat (amenity grassland), counts of hedgehogs more than doubled over a 5-year period from the start of badger culling (from 0.9 ha−1 pre-cull to 2.4 ha−1 post-cull), whereas hedgehog counts did not change where there was no badger culling (0.3-0.3 hedgehogs ha−1). This trial provides experimental evidence for mesopredator release as an outcome of management of a top predator.

 

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