This material is published by Functional Ecology (2002, vol 16, pp 504-509).


Roads as barriers to movement for hedgehogs

Carlo Rondinini & C. Patrick Doncaster

1. We analysed movements of hedgehogs, Erinaceus europaeus, in relation to roads by recording their nocturnal foraging trajectories in urban areas adjacent to major road systems. Four male and four female hedgehogs at each of two sites were each tracked over five replicate trajectories of more than 3 h, using radio-telemetry and direct observation.
2. Frequency of road crossings and use of habitat were compared to simulated random trajectories. For each observed trajectory, we simulated 100 trajectories with the same distribution of speeds as observed, but random direction.
3. Observed trajectories had lower rates of crossing large but not small roads than simulated, indicating that hedgehogs treat large roads as barriers during nightly foraging activities. Most hedgehogs were never observed to cross roads, whereas almost all simulated trajectories did cross both large and small roads.
4. Crossing behaviour differed by site, but not by sex.
5. Roads and road verges had the lowest rank in a habitat preference analysis at both sites, whilst playing fields, gardens and urban areas were preferred habitats. We discuss these results in relation to the regional scale preference for urban areas, and the attraction to road verges whilst dispersing, shown by hedgehogs.



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