Philip Baker

Philip Baker
University of Reading · School of Biological Sciences

Doctor of Philosophy

About

72
Publications
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3,586
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Publications

Publications (72)
Article
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Artificial refuges provided by householders and/or conservation practitioners potentially represent one mechanism for mitigating declines in the availability of natural nest sites used for resting, breeding and hibernating in urban areas. The effectiveness of such refuges for different species is, however, not always known. In this study, we conduc...
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Understanding patterns of habitat selection and factors affecting space use is fundamental in animal conservation. In urban landscapes, such knowledge can be used to advise householders on how best to manage their gardens for wildlife. In this study, we tracked 28 West European hedgehogs ( Erinaceus europaeus ), a species of conservation concern in...
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Urban areas are associated with high levels of habitat fragmentation. For some terrestrial species with limited climbing abilities, property boundaries can pose a significant problem by limiting access to residential gardens. The West European hedgehog ( Erinaceus europaeus ) has declined markedly in the UK but is commonly found in areas of human h...
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Transport infrastructure is a pervasive element in modern landscapes and continues to expand to meet the demands of a growing human population and its associated resource consumption. Road-induced mortality is often thought to be a major contributor to the marked declines of European hedgehog populations. This review synthesizes available evidence...
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The West-European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) has declined markedly in the UK. The winter hibernation period may make hedgehogs vulnerable to anthropogenic habitat and climate changes. Therefore, we studied two contrasting populations in England to examine patterns of winter nest use, body mass changes and survival during hibernation. No between...
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West European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) are likely to encounter unusual ecological features in urban habitats, such as anthropogenic food sources and artificial refugia. Quantifying how these affect hedgehog behaviour is vital for informing conservation guidelines for householders. We monitored hedgehog presence/absence in gardens in the town...
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Abundance and density are vital metrics for assessing a species’ conservation status and for developing effective management strategies. Remote‐sensing cameras are being used increasingly as part of citizen science projects to monitor wildlife, but current methodologies to monitor densities pose challenges when animals are not individually recogniz...
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Across Europe, hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) appear to be in decline in both urban and rural landscapes. Current methods used to monitor urban populations are, however, associated with several potential limitations. In this study, we conducted hedgehog footprint-tunnel surveys in 219 residential gardens across Reading, UK between May–September in...
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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...
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Free-ranging pet cats (Felis catus) frequently kill wildlife but also return live prey to their owners. This raises welfare concerns if live animals released by cat owners subsequently die, since this is preventable, eg through prompt euthanasia. To estimate the mortality rate of birds released alive by cat owners, we examined the fates of 3,597 ca...
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Indirect survey methods are often used in studies of mammals but are susceptible to biases caused by failure to detect species where they are present. Occupancy analysis is an analytical technique which enables non-detection rates to be estimated and which can be used to develop and refine novel survey methods. In this study, we investigated the us...
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Urbanization is one of the major forms of habitat alteration occurring at the present time. Although this is typically deleterious to biodiversity, some species flourish within these human-modified landscapes, potentially leading to negative and/or positive interactions between people and wildlife. Hence, up-to-date assessment of urban wildlife pop...
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In many countries, high densities of domestic cats (Felis catus) are found in urban habitats where they have the potential to exert considerable predation pressure on their prey. However, little is known of the ranging behaviour of cats in the UK. Twenty cats in suburban Reading, UK, were fitted with GPS trackers to quantify movement patterns. Cats...
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Quaternary climatic fluctuations have had profound effects on the phylogeographic structure of many species. Classically, species were thought to have become isolated in peninsular refugia, but there is limited evidence that large, non-polar species survived outside traditional refugial areas. We examined the phylogeographic structure of the red fo...
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Urban domestic cat (Felis catus) populations can attain exceedingly high densities and are not limited by natural prey availability. This has generated concerns that they may negatively affect prey populations, leading to calls for management. We enlisted cat-owners to record prey returned home to estimate patterns of predation by free-roaming pets...
Data
Latin names of species listed in the manuscript and a summary of the number of animals returned dead and alive during the study. The majority of animals returned dead were retained for positive identification; those released alive were identified by householders, so identifications may not always have been accurate. (DOCX)
Article
Movements away from the natal or home territory are important to many ecological processes, including gene flow, population regulation, and disease epidemiology, yet quantitative data on these behaviors are lacking. Red foxes exhibit 2 periods of extraterritorial movements: when an individual disperses and when males search neighboring territories...
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We aimed to compare body condition, urine profiles, and survival times between red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) that were infected with sarcoptic mange and others that were uninfected. First we compared the relative body mass, chest girth, fat reserves, and urinary urea nitrogen:creatinine (UN:C) ratios of red foxes in three infection classes: uninfected,...
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This paper reviews the current status of microgeneration technologies at the domestic scale. Overviews are given for nine such technologies, grouped into three sections: (a) low carbon heating: condensing boilers, biomass boilers and room heaters, air source and ground source heat pumps; (b) renewables: solar photovoltaic panels, flat plate and eva...
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Urban areas have both positive and negative influences on wildlife. For terrestrial mammals, one of the principal problems is the risk associated with moving through the environment while foraging. We examined nocturnal patterns of movement of urban-dwelling hedgehogs in relation to (1) the risks posed by predators and motor vehicles and (2) nightl...
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Capsule Different urban breeding bird communities are associated with different habitat types, but, although community species diversity varies significantly, total bird density does not. Aims To investigate the association between breeding bird communities and habitats within Bristol, UK and how these communities vary in terms of species diversity...
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Studies on exposure of non-targets to anticoagulant rodenticides have largely focussed on predatory birds and mammals; insectivores have rarely been studied. We investigated the exposure of 120 European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) from throughout Britain to first- and second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (FGARs and SGARs) using high per...
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Understanding the causal mechanisms promoting group formation in carnivores has been widely investigated, particularly how fitness components affect group formation. Population density may affect the relative benefits of natal philopatry versus dispersal. Density effects on individual behavioral strategies have previously been studied through compa...
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This article was submitted without an abstract, please refer to the full-text PDF file.
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A critical review of the literature relating to government policy and behavioural aspects relevant to the uptake and application of microgeneration in the UK is presented. Given the current policy context aspiring to zero-carbon new homes by 2016 and a variety of minimum standards and financial policy instruments supporting microgeneration in exist...
Article
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This article was submitted without an abstract, please refer to the full-text PDF file.
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Recent legislative changes to red fox Vulpes vulpes control practices in Britain have focussed attention on the possible impact of fox predation on economically and ecologically important species in agricultural landscapes. We compared the estimated mass of prey consumed annually against the pre-breeding biomass of prey species on a farm in souther...
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This paper considers aspects of the current regulatory frameworks for markets and infrastructure which can inhibit the deployment of decentralised energy. The government has stated that decentralised energy can make a positive contribution to reducing the UK's carbon emissions, but recognises that at the moment the technologies face market and regu...
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Male-biased sexual size dimorphism is typical of polygynous mammals, where the degree of dimorphism in body mass is related to male intrasexual competition and the degree of polygyny. However, the importance of body mass in monogamous mammals is largely unknown. We investigated the effect of body mass on life-history parameters and territory size i...
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The period following the withdrawal of parental care has been highlighted as a key developmental period for juveniles. One reason for this is that juveniles cannot forage as competently as adults, potentially placing them at greater risk from environmentally-induced changes in food availability. However, no study has examined this topic. Using a lo...
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Even though they are fed daily by their owners, free-ranging pet cats Felis catus may kill wild birds and, given their high densities (typically > 200 cats/km2), it has been postulated that cat predation could be a significant negative factor affecting the dynamics of urban bird populations. In this study, we: (1) used questionnaire surveys in 10 s...
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Summary • Understanding the factors influencing variation in the degree of sperm competition is a key question underlying the mechanisms driving sexual conflict. • Previous behavioural and comparative studies have indicated that carnivores appear to have evolved under sperm competition but an analysis of the predictors of the level of sperm competi...
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ABSTRACT • The production of food for human consumption has led to an historical and global conflict with terrestrial carnivores, which in turn has resulted in the extinction or extirpation of many species, although some have benefited. At present, carnivores affect food production by: (i) killing human producers; killing and/or eating (ii) fish/sh...
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The costs of dispersal are an important factor promoting natal philopatry, thereby encouraging the formation of social groups. The red fox, Vulpes vulpes, exhibits a highly flexible social system and one that is thought to represent a possible stage in the evolution of more complex patterns of group-living. Although the potential benefits accruing...
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ABSTRACT • Disease epizootics can significantly influence host population dynamics and the structure and functioning of ecological communities. Sarcoptic mange Sarcoptes scabiei has dramatically reduced red fox populations Vulpes vulpes in several countries, including Britain, although impacts on demographic processes are poorly understood. We revi...
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Of the wildlife casualties admitted to rehabilitation centres in England, less than half are subsequently released back into the wild. If the factors associated with survival within rehabilitation centres can be determined, they may be used to focus efforts on individuals with high chances of successful recovery, and thus improve welfare by devotin...
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Traffic collisions can be a major source of mortality in wild populations, and animals may be expected to exhibit behavioral mechanisms that reduce the risk associated with crossing roads. Animals living in urban areas in particular have to negotiate very dense road networks, often with high levels of traffic flow. We examined traffic-related morta...
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ABSTRACT • Urban areas are predicted to grow significantly in the foreseeable future because of increasing human population growth. Predicting the impact of urban development and expansion on mammal populations is of considerable interest due to possible effects on biodiversity and human-wildlife conflict. • The British government has recently anno...
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Environmental conditions during the early life stages of birds can have significant effects on the quality of sexual signals in adulthood, especially song, and these ultimately have consequences for breeding success and fitness. This has wide-ranging implications for the rehabilitation protocols undertaken in wildlife hospitals which aim to return...
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Translocation is frequently used to return rehabilitated animals to the wild, and is an important tool for the population management of endangered species. Whilst experimental field manipulations are important in determining optimal rehabilitation and translocation strategies, they are rarely implemented in practice. We used an experimental approac...
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ABSTRACT • The winter diet of foxes Vulpes vulpes was quantified in seven landscape types in Britain, using faecal samples from 87 sites. • Medium-sized mammals (0.1–5.0 kg) were consistently the most important prey group in arable and pastural landscapes, occurring in 44–72% of scats and comprising 50–75% of the mass of prey ingested. Birds and sm...
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Forests within agricultural landscapes can act as safe harbourages for species that conflict with neighbouring landowners’ interests, including mammalian predators. The agency responsible for the management of forests in upland Wales, UK, has permitted the killing of foxes (Vulpes vulpes) on their land as a “good neighbour policy” with the aim of r...
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Allelic dropouts are an important source of genotyping error, particularly in studies using non-invasive sampling techniques. This has important implications for conservation biology, as an increasing number of studies are now using non-invasive techniques to study rare species or endangered populations. Previously, allelic dropout has typically be...
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ABSTRACT As companion animals, domestic cats Felis catus can attain very high densities, and have the potential to exert detrimental effects on prey species. Yet, there is a paucity of information on the impact of cat predation in urban areas, where most cats are likely to be present. We quantified the minimum number of animals killed annually by c...
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Measuring the welfare standards of practices used to cull wild mammals is difficult and controversial (eg Bateson & Bradshaw 2000; Urquhart & McKendrick 2003). The welfare issues arising from shooting concern (a) the rate at which animals are wounded, and (b) the level of suffering caused by these wounds. In a recent paper, Fox et al (2005) attempt...
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1. Quantifying animal density is a fundamental requirement for the successful management of canid species. Faecal transects along linear features represent a cost-effective means of quantifying relative density. However, it is unclear whether such counts can be utilized to estimate absolute density. 2. In Britain, due to proposed legislative change...
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Canid social groups are typically thought to consist of extended families, that is, a dominant breeding pair and related nonbreeding subordinates, that principally obtain indirect fitness benefits from helping to raise the offspring of the dominant pair. Consequently, the monogamous pair has been viewed as the basic fundamental unit of canid social...
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Economic analysis is a useful tool to aid decisions on what to do about wildlife impacts, such as those of vertebrate predators on livestock farmers. The case-study of lamb predation by foxes in Britain is used to develop a theoretical economic model, with the aim of determining a financially optimal solution to minimise the total costs of livestoc...
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1. Counts of road traffic casualties (RTCs) have been proposed as one potential method of monitoring changes in the abundance of several mammal species in Britain. However, before such schemes are implemented, it is vital that the relationship between animal density and RTCs is verified and quantified. In this paper, we analyse data collected as pa...
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ABSTRACT1. A national monitoring scheme for recording the abundance of foxes and badgers in Britain would have to utilize a technique or techniques that could detect a wide range of animal densities in structurally different habitats. Furthermore, the likely reliance on volunteers for data collection means that these techniques must be easily appli...
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We investigated the distribution of a range of small mammal species in five urban habitats in north-west Bristol: residential gardens, woodlands, allotment gardens, scrub and a cemetery. Wood mouse Apodemus sylvaticus abundance in residential gardens was negatively related to the abundance of cats and the distance to the nearest patch of natural or...
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There is increasing concern about the use of lethal methods to control wild mammal populations, especially those methods that may have significant impacts on animal welfare. The continued use of dogs to hunt wild mammals in England and Wales, principally foxes (Vulpes vulpes), red deer (Cervus elaphus), brown hares (Lepus europaeus) and mink (Muste...
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The habitat preferences of red foxesVulpes vulpes (Linnaeus, 1758) in Bristol, UK, were compared during periods of high and low population density following an outbreak of sarcoptic mange (Sarcoptes scabiei). These periods are termed ‘pre-epizootic’ and ‘post-epizootic’, respectively. Habitat preferences were compared between periods during nocturn...
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Red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are believed to have an economic impact on farming through predation on lambs, poultry and game. Investigation of the causes behind variation in the impact of predation between farms is required to improve management of these problems. A questionnaire survey of sheep farmers was combined with field data on relative fox pop...
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Pressure to ban the hunting of foxes with hounds in Britain has fuelled debate about its contribution to the control of fox populations. We took advantage of a nationwide one-year ban on fox-hunting during the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in 2001 to examine this issue and found that the ban had no measurable impact on fox numbers in ran...
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Summary • Methods used to control canids may differ in their relative effectiveness and how they ‘sample’ age and sex classes. However, there is little information on such biases. We utilized data from a population of known size and structure to quantify differences in the seasonal capture rate of foxes Vulpes vulpes of different age, sex and socia...
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The diurnal and nocturnal movement patterns of juvenile foxes 0Vulpes vulpes (Linneaus, 1758) were investigated in Bristol, UK. Juvenile and adult foxes were radio-tracked between May and December in three consecutive years. In the months preceding the main dispersal period (May-September), cubs showed a gradual increase in the area over which they...
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The social and spatial organization of urban fox groups prior to and during an outbreak of sarcoptic mange was compared with predictions derived from the resource dispersion hypothesis (RDH). We investigated the availability of three key resources. Neither daytime rest sites nor breeding sites appeared to be limited in availability. The availabilit...
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For species such as the red fox, spatio-temporal variation in resource availability may promote group living even when the benefits of group formation are not of significant magnitude to promote territorial expansion and delayed dispersal. In this paper we use data from an urban fox population to compare the relative benefits of dispersal and natal...