Article

Nocturnal ranging behavior of urban hedgehogs, Erinaceus europaeus, in relation to risk and reward

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Abstract

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) nightly weather patterns. Hedgehogs preferentially utilized the gardens of semidetached and terraced houses. However, females, but not males, avoided the larger back gardens of detached houses, which contain more of the habitat features selected by badgers. This difference in the avoidance of predation risk is probably associated with sex differences in breeding behaviour. Differences in nightly movement patterns were consistent with strategies associated with mating behaviour and the accumulation of fat reserves for hibernation. Hedgehogs also differed in behaviour associated with the risks posed by humans; they avoided actively foraging near roads and road verges, but did not avoid crossing roads per se. They were, however, significantly more active after midnight when there was a marked reduction in vehicle and foot traffic. In particular, responses to increased temperature, which is associated with increased abundance of invertebrate prey, were only observed after midnight. This variation in the timing of bouts of activity would reduce the risks associated with human activities. There were also profound differences in both area ranged and activity between years which warrant further investigation.

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... It is likely that the declines of hedgehog populations across Europe are a result of a combination of factors. For example, intensified agricultural practices, molluscicide and rodenticide poisoning, badger predation and loss of habitat have also been raised as important correlates of reduced population density and local extinction risk [24,28,[58][59][60]. Disentangling the relative impact of factors to population demography, which is likely to be area-specific, remains a principal goal to improve hedgehog conservation. ...
... For example, E. roumanicus in Bulgaria [33] and E. concolor in Turkey [80] were shown to have greater casualty rates on quieter, regional roads than highways. This may result from quieter roads allowing more crossing attempts [58], having fewer physical barriers than major roads and/or their placement in areas with higher hedgehog densities. In severe cases, increased road mortality could lead to death rates exceeding birth rates, which may change a local population to a sink [81]. ...
... Both barriers and road avoidance behaviour are particularly common on roads with higher traffic volumes and speeds [78]. Dowding et al. [58] reported avoidance of foraging near roads, but not of crossing quieter roads, by E. europaeus. Moreover, Rondinini and Doncaster [83] compared observed E. europaeus movements in Southampton, UK, with "random walks" and identified clear road avoidance behaviour that increased with road width (and associated higher traffic). ...
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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 on the population-level impacts of road mortality and the threat to population viability for the five hedgehog species in Europe. Local and national studies suggest that road mortality can cause significant depletions in population sizes, predominantly removing adult males. Traffic collisions are a probable cause of fragmentation effects, subsequently undermining ecological processes such as dispersal, as well as the genetic variance and fitness of isolated populations. Further studies are necessary to improve population estimates and explicitly examine the consequences of sex- and age-specific mortality rates. Hedgehogs have been reported to use crossing structures, such as road tunnels, yet evaluations of mitigation measures for population survival probability are largely absent. This highlights the need for robust studies that consider population dynamics and genetics in response to mitigation. In light of ongoing declines of hedgehog populations, it is paramount that applied research is prioritised and integrated into a holistic spatial planning process.
... In rural landscapes, primary threats include habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation [34][35][36] and an increase in the number of badgers (Meles meles) [37], an intraguild predator [38]. As a result, hedgehogs are now increasingly found within or near human settlements [11,[39][40][41], with residential gardens (especially rear gardens) a favoured habitat [41,42]. However, urban-dwelling hedgehogs face a range of challenges including accidental exposure to pesticides [43], human disturbance [44], injury by domestic animals [33], and barriers to movement including roads [45] and garden fences [31]. ...
... In UK towns and cities, houses are frequently arranged in blocks consisting of two rows with rear gardens backing onto one another. To access the rear gardens of these houses, the preferred foraging habitat [42], hedgehogs can move from back garden to back garden and / or access the rear garden from the front via the side of the house where possible. Although there are numerous permutations of how adding even one highway could influence distances travelled, highways between neighbouring houses that are side-by-side could be associated with a reduction in the order of tens of metres, as a hedgehog would no longer need to leave one back garden to enter the other via the front of the second house. ...
... Conversely, a highway between two gardens that are back-to-back could result in a reduction in the order of a hundred metres or more, as the animal might not need to travel around the periphery of the block of houses to enter the second garden. Although these distances are small, Dowding et al. [42] recorded mean distances travelled of just 861m and 514m per night for male and female hedgehogs, respectively, in Bristol, UK, and Schaus Calderón [65] recorded comparable figures of 656m and 404m for hedgehogs in four urban sites across England. In this context, even the minor improvements in connectivity outlined above could be associated with reductions in nightly distances travelled of >10%; whether this would have a significant effect on the survival and / or reproductive output of hedgehogs is, however, unclear. ...
Article
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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 habitation, including residential gardens. ‘Hedgehog Street’ is a public engagement campaign aimed at recruiting volunteers (‘Hedgehog Champions’) to create access points (‘hedgehog highways’) across garden boundaries to improve habitat connectivity. In this study, we used a series of questionnaire surveys to explore motivations for and obstacles to the creation of highways. Householders were more likely to have created a highway if they were already aware of the Hedgehog Street campaign, if their garden contained a high number of wildlife-friendly features and if they considered watching wildlife to be important. Hedgehog Champions created, on average, 1.69 highways each with 52.0% creating none; this would equate to an estimated >120,000 across all registered Champions. In comparison, 6.1–29.8% of non-Champions stated that they had made a highway. However, most highways had been created in boundaries that could already be traversed via naturally occurring holes: only 11.4% of garden boundaries could be traversed, and 3.2% of gardens accessed, just via a hedgehog highway. In addition, only 5.0% of gardens were considered totally inaccessible to hedgehogs. The most common reasons cited for not having made a highway were that householders’ gardens were already accessible to hedgehogs followed by concerns relating to boundary ownership and / or communicating with neighbours. Future studies need to identify strategies for overcoming these obstacles to maximize citizen engagement, particularly with those householders who are not innately “wildlife-friendly”, and to quantify the degree to which networks of highways affect patterns of individual movement and, ultimately, populations.
... One way to gain insight into how animals use urban spaces is through habitat selection analyses to assess habitat preferences and / or avoidances within the context of landscape-scale distribution or home range utilisation (Saunders et al. 1997;Dowding et al. 2010a; Thomas et al. 2014;Roberts et al. 2017;Mueller et al. 2018). However, understanding habitat use on a finer scale can yield greater benefits in conservation planning (Gilioli et al. 2018), particularly for species that perceive the environment at small spatial scales (Ritchie and Olff 1999), have limited dispersal ability (Gilioli et al. 2018) and / or which may be associated with specific habitats or microhabitats (Banks and Skilleter 2007). ...
... Residential gardens within urban areas are favoured by a range of fauna (Saunders et al. 1997;Newman et al. 2003;Murgui 2009;Dowding et al. 2010a) and can collectively cover a substantial area. For example, private domestic gardens constitute 35-47% of greenspace in some British cities ) and cover > 430,000 ha in the UK as a whole (Davies et al. 2009). ...
... In addition to sex, season and environmental conditions, hedgehog movement behaviour also varies between urban landscapes (Dowding et al. 2010a;Rasmussen et al. 2019; Schaus Calderón 2021) potentially due to differences in building density (Schaus Calderón 2021), road type (Rondinini and Doncaster 2002) and disturbance levels (Berger et al. 2020a). Irrespective of this, hedgehogs consistently favour back gardens (Baker and Harris 2007;Hof and Bright 2009;Dowding et al. 2010a;Williams et al. 2015Williams et al. , 2018bRasmussen et al. 2019;Gazzard and Baker 2020;Schaus Calderón 2021) and are thought to require access to around 13-14 back gardens per night (Rasmussen et al. 2019;Schaus Calderón 2021). ...
Article
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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 the UK, in an area of high-density housing using radio and GPS tags to quantify patterns of habitat use and identify factors associated with the proportion of time spent in individual gardens. Both males and females exhibited a preference for residential gardens, but there were subtle differences between the sexes in relation to house type and front versus back gardens. Hedgehogs spent significantly more time in gardens where artificial food was provided, where a compost heap was present, if foxes ( Vulpes vulpes ) were infrequent visitors, if it rained overnight and as daylength increased (i.e., shorter nights); garden use was not significantly associated with variables potentially likely to reflect invertebrate prey abundance. These data suggest that the primary positive action that householders can undertake for urban hedgehogs is providing supplementary food. However, householders often feed hedgehogs after they know they are already visiting their garden. Consequently, the presence of artificial food may make it difficult to identify other important influences affecting garden use. Finally, we report that a GPS fix acquisition rate < 60% likely had no major effect on the results of our analyses, but should be a consideration in future studies using this technique on this species and in this habitat.
... To investigate the behavioural plasticity of hedgehogs in response to transient changes and habitat fragmentation, we analysed the behavioural response at different levels. First, we used GPS data to investigate the daily home range size and movement behaviour of hedgehogs, both closely related to foraging [34,35]. Second, we assessed the circadian behaviour patterns of hedgehogs, known to be usually strictly nocturnal but adjustable as a response to stress [19,35]. ...
... First, we used GPS data to investigate the daily home range size and movement behaviour of hedgehogs, both closely related to foraging [34,35]. Second, we assessed the circadian behaviour patterns of hedgehogs, known to be usually strictly nocturnal but adjustable as a response to stress [19,35]. Third, we monitored nesting behaviour. ...
... (1) In urban areas, or areas with predation risk, hedgehog movements are strongly associated with linear structures [35], fragmentation will increase the area of space that is of no interest to hedgehogs and thus increase the distances they have to cover. Thus, in a highly fragmented park, the home range area would be bigger than in the low-fragmented park. ...
Article
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Anthropogenic activities can result in both transient and permanent changes in the environment. We studied spatial and temporal behavioural responses of European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) to a transient (open-air music festival) and a permanent (highly fragmented area) disturbance in the city of Berlin, Germany. Activity, foraging and movement patterns were observed in two distinct areas in 2016 and 2017 using a “Before & After“ and “Control & Impact“ study design. Confronted with a music festival, hedgehogs substantially changed their movement behaviour and nesting patterns and decreased the rhythmic synchronization (DFC) of their activity patterns with the environment. These findings suggest that a music festival is a substantial stressor influencing the trade-off between foraging and risk avoidance. Hedgehogs in a highly fragmented area used larger home ranges and moved faster than in low-fragmented and low-disturbed areas. They also showed behaviours and high DFCs similar to individuals in low-fragmented, low disturbed environment, suggesting that fragmentation posed a moderate challenge which they could accommodate. The acute but transient disturbance of a music festival, therefore, had more substantial and severe behavioural effects than the permanent disturbance through fragmentation. Our results are relevant for the welfare and conservation measure of urban wildlife and highlight the importance of allowing wildlife to avoid urban music festivals by facilitating avoidance behaviours.
... In Zurich (Braaker et al. 2014), radio-tracked hedgehogs avoided impervious areas the most and preferred green spaces with vegetation elements such as flowers, vegetable beds, bushes, trees or heaps of branches. In Bristol (UK - Dowding et al. 2010), these green areas were most often residential gardens in which shelter and food resources were available. Indeed, not only may gardens with structure (e.g., shrub and grass) provide invertebrate prey (Dowding et al. 2010), they also attract animals due to the potential accessibility to pet food (Morris 2006;Hubert et al. 2011). ...
... In Bristol (UK - Dowding et al. 2010), these green areas were most often residential gardens in which shelter and food resources were available. Indeed, not only may gardens with structure (e.g., shrub and grass) provide invertebrate prey (Dowding et al. 2010), they also attract animals due to the potential accessibility to pet food (Morris 2006;Hubert et al. 2011). However, in some cases, hedgehogs can also exhibit avoidance to human and pet exposure, particularly domestic dogs (Hof and Bright 2009;Dowding et al. 2010), which may be one of the reasons they can also be found foraging and resting in less populated areas such as playing fields, parks or woodland (Driezen et al. 2007;Hubert 2008;Dowding et al. 2010). ...
... Indeed, not only may gardens with structure (e.g., shrub and grass) provide invertebrate prey (Dowding et al. 2010), they also attract animals due to the potential accessibility to pet food (Morris 2006;Hubert et al. 2011). However, in some cases, hedgehogs can also exhibit avoidance to human and pet exposure, particularly domestic dogs (Hof and Bright 2009;Dowding et al. 2010), which may be one of the reasons they can also be found foraging and resting in less populated areas such as playing fields, parks or woodland (Driezen et al. 2007;Hubert 2008;Dowding et al. 2010). These habitat preferences were also reported in Southampton City (UK - Rondinini and Doncaster 2002), where roads and road verges came out as the least preferred, in opposition to playing fields and house gardens, which ranked first. ...
Article
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As urbanization continues to expand worldwide, more and more urban areas become home to wild animals able to adapt to city life, generating a growing need for information. In the Greater Paris area, the existence of three wild mammals (the stone marten, Martes foina, the red fox, Vulpes vulpes and the hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus) is attested. However, little is known regarding their presence. The research reported in this study aims to shed light upon their co-existence with city dwellers. Specifically, the areas where contacts between these species and the inhabitants are the most likely are studied. Gaining insight on the distribution of such areas allows for those in charge of wildlife-related issues to target where management measures may be needed the most, whether they concern biodiversity promotion initiatives or conflict mitigation actions. In this paper, we investigate the landscape compositions in which these encounters have been the most frequent using presence records. To do so, we analyzed the land use types within buffers set around contact points and applied statistical operations (correspondence analysis and hierarchical clustering) on the obtained results. Results show that while some landscape compositions attract all three species (namely areas where greenery is prevailing), others were only favored by one or two of the species.
... Conservation of protected animals in a metropolis is often a difficult task. Movement of urbanized species as Hedgehogs is practically out of human control (Dowding et al. 2010). To have a chance to decrease road mortality it is important to be able to detect hot spots or even hot segments of roads in a metropolis. ...
... 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 (Dowding et al. 2010). ...
... Hedgehogs are mainly nocturnal animals (Pavlovi & Savić 2016), Dowding et al. (2010) found that their activity peak appeared after midnight. It means that most of their movements are happening during nighttime. ...
Article
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The Northern White-breasted Hedgehog (Erinaceus roumanicus) is a common species in Hungary occurring throughout the country. It has been increased its population sizes in urban environments but also, it is one of the most common mammalian road fatalities in Europe. The observation of a widespread and relatively frequent species often means a non-executable task for the experts. The WildWatcher Programme started in September 2009 aimed to involve the public in this activity provides a huge amount of valuable data and plays a significant educational role. The Programme focuses on 18 species/taxon group. The Hedgehog is the most frequently observed species of the Programme. In this study, we focused on data recorded within the administrative borders of Budapest metropolis. We used traffic intensity data of Budapest roads from the road traffic database of the strategic noise map (renewed in 2018) to apply GIS analysis of road kill frequencies in the road segments. The most dangerous period for the Hedgehog was April, May and July but June is also a dangerous month of the year in Budapest. Road segments where live Hedgehogs were observed had lower traffic than road segments where killed individuals were recorded after sunset but not in day-time. Less intensive traffic of vehicle type II (small tracks, short buses and motorbikes) has been detected in the roads where observations have been made on live Hedgehog individuals than the average traffic of these vehicles. These results do not mean that the vehicles in this category primarily threaten these animals but the roads that are used by these vehicles intensively are the most unfavourable in this point of view. It is hard to find the direct connections between the features of these roads and the high Hedgehog road kill probability but this information can be used to find the most dangerous road segments in Budapest.
... Housing type had little impact on hedgehog presence, with only a significant positive relationship with the percentage of terraced housing. Gardens of terraced houses are favoured at the individual level by foraging hedgehogs (Dowding et al. 2010). This contrasts with the expectation that low-density housing types would be more permeable for movement and thus more favourable for hedgehogs. ...
... High human densities are associated with increasing habitat disturbance, which may impact hedgehog populations negatively. Acute human disturbance from park music festivals has been found to impact hedgehog movement and behaviours in Berlin (Rast et al. 2019, Berger et al. 2020, whilst hedgehogs in Bristol become more active after midnight, potentially to avoid exposure to pedestrian and vehicular traffic (Dowding et al. 2010). Therefore, despite being found near to humans, these results suggest a threshold in hedgehog populations' capacity to tolerate high levels of human activity. ...
... Intermediate impervious cover may reflect the patchwork environment found in residential areas, with mixtures of housing and greenspace providing rich and varied habitat. Hedgehogs not only avoid impervious cover (Rondinini & Doncaster 2002, Dowding et al. 2010, Braaker et al. 2014) but also display behavioural capacity to tolerate habitat fragmentation and to traverse impervious surfaces within fragmented habitats (Berger et al. 2020). It has been suggested that, excepting large roads, impervious cover does not pose a strong barrier for hedgehog movement (Rondinini & Doncaster 2002, Braaker et al. 2014). ...
Article
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• Urban environments are important for west European hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus. The species has been recorded in 73% of large urban areas throughout its geographic range. However, the environmental relationships determining hedgehog distribution within these landscapes are not well understood. • Taking a city-wide perspective, this study identifies hedgehogs’ habitat relationships with urban environmental characteristics and predicts habitat suitability in a major urban centre, Greater London, UK. • We use a collated citizen science dataset of 3012 hedgehog occurrence records from Greater London, and pseudoabsences inferred from other mammal taxa, to construct a multiscale generalised linear model identifying the influence of 10 variables representing urban greenspace, built infrastructure, and the presence of the European badger Meles meles (as a predator or competitor) on hedgehog distribution. • We find a positive association of hedgehog presence with availability of gardens, parks, allotments, percentage of terraced housing, traffic, and intermediate impervious cover (roads and buildings, peaking at 31%). High impervious cover, woodland, water, human densities (above 2262 people km⁻²), and badger presence were negatively related to hedgehog presence. Predicted habitat suitability was high across much of Greater London but declined towards the centre and in some locations around the outskirts of the study region. • Our results emphasise the importance of public and private greenspaces for urban hedgehogs, and suggest that loss of garden, park, and allotment habitats and disturbance associated with high human densities may restrict hedgehog distribution. Despite the inherent complexity of urban environments, this study shows that citizen science is useful for developing an understanding of large-scale species–habitat relationships in diverse urban landscapes.
... The main predator of hedgehogs in the UK is the European badger (Meles meles) [57]. The activity and distribution of badgers has been shown to influence that of hedgehogs in urban and suburban environments [58], with hedgehogs tending to be more active in smaller gardens, which are less likely to be visited by badgers [59]. However, supplementary feeding stations provide very energy-dense resources compared with natural foods, and the drive to obtain these resources may outweigh the risk of predation or light-avoidance behaviours. ...
... No consistent effects of ALAN were reported in this study, and this may in part be because of individual differences, i.e., sex and age. For example, male hedgehogs are bolder [59] and have larger home range sizes than females [60]. Changes in individual responses may explain the marked variability between sites (as illustrated in Figure S2). ...
Article
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: Artificial light at night (ALAN) can have negative consequences for a wide range of taxa. However, the effects on nocturnal mammals other than bats are poorly understood. A citizen science camera trapping experiment was therefore used to assess the effect of ALAN on the activity of European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) at supplementary feeding stations in UK gardens. A crossover design was implemented at 33 gardens with two treatments—artificial light and darkness—each of which lasted for one week. The order of treatment depended on the existing lighting regime at the feeding station: dark treatments were applied first at dark feeding stations, whereas light treatments were used first where the station was already illuminated. Although temporal changes in activity patterns in response to the treatments were noted in some individuals, the direction of the effects was not consistent. Similarly, there was no overall impact of ALAN on the presence or feeding activities of hedgehogs in gardens where supplementary feeding stations were present. These findings are somewhat reassuring insofar as they demonstrate no net negative effect on a species thought to be in decline, in scenarios where the animals are already habituated to supplementary feeding. However, further research is needed to examine long-term effects and the effects of lighting on hedgehog prey, reproductive success and predation risk.
... The European hedgehog, occurring in higher densities in urban landscapes (Hubert Fig. 5 Change points with 95% confidence interval for red fox, European hedgehog, stone marten, and European badger along the corresponding land cover class gradient, resulted from the analysis including a road segment length of 1000 m. Light-dark red shades indicate increasing risk , also shows an increase in roadkills at moderate levels of urban cover, possibly linked with its use of roads as dispersing corridors (Patrick Doncaster et al. 2001), although roads seem to be avoided during foraging (Dowding et al. 2010). It is also known that this species may occur at higher density in food-rich landscapes such as rural landscapes (Hubert et al. 2011). ...
... Here, the European hedgehog tends to avoid areas suitable for the European badger, particularly in urbanrelated habitats (Dowding et al., 2010). The European badger is also known to occur in rural areas characterized by woody and shrubby vegetation, river valleys, and close to urban settlements, where it is more susceptible to vehicle collisions as the density of regional and local roads increases (Fabrizio et al. 2019). ...
Article
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Linear infrastructures (e.g., roads, railways, pipelines, and powerlines) pose a serious threat to wildlife, due to the risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions (roadkills). The placement of mitigation measures, such as crossing structures, should consider species' life cycles and ecological requirements. Such an assessment would require data collection over large areas, which may be possible by employing citizen science. In this study, we aimed to identify spatio-temporal trends of roadkill occurrence using citizen science data from one of the most urbanized and biodiversity-rich regions of Italy. Temporal trends were analyzed using generalized additive models, while landscape patterns were assessed by identifying significant thresholds over land cover gradients, related to increases in relative roadkill abundance, by employing threshold indicator taxa analysis. Our approach recorded a total of 529 roadkills, including 33 different species, comprising 13 mammal, 10 bird, 6 reptile, and 2 amphibian species. Statistical analysis indicated significant temporal trends for the red fox, the European hedgehog, the stone marten and the European badger, with peaks in roadkill occurrence between the winter and spring months. Relative roadkill abundance increased mostly in landscapes with anthropogenic land cover classes, such as complex cultivations, orchards, or urban surfaces. Our results allowed us to develop a map of potential roadkill risk that could assist in planning the placement of mitigation measures. Citizen science contributions from highly populated areas allowed data collection over a large area and a dense road network, and also directly led to the evaluation of management decisional options.
... Species-level adaptations to urban landscapes include flexible behaviors Lowry et al., 2013;Sih et al., 2011), tolerance to a wide variety of habitats (Bonier et al., 2007;Ducatez et al., 2015), and generalist diets (McKinney, 2002). At an individual level, urban space use can vary according to phenotype (Lowry et al., 2013), for example, age and sex (Baker et al., 2007;Dowding et al., 2010;Maibeche et al., 2015;Marty et al., 2019;Merkle et al., 2013). Adult male Barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus), living in Gouraya National Park that borders the city of Bejaia in Algeria, eat more human foods than females or juveniles (Maibeche et al., 2015), and male American black bears (Ursinus americanus) in Missoula, Montana, use urban spaces more frequently than females and are 1.6 times more likely to be located next to a house (Merkle et al., 2013). ...
Article
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The presence of wildlife adjacent to and within urban spaces is a growing phenomenon globally. When wildlife’s presence in urban spaces has negative impacts for people and wildlife, nonlethal and lethal interventions on animals invariably result. Recent evidence suggests that individuals in wild animal populations vary in both their propensity to use urban space and their response to nonlethal management methods. Understanding such interindividual differences and the drivers of urban space use could help inform management strategies. We use direct observation and high-resolution GPS (1 Hz) to track the space use of 13 adult individuals in a group of chacma baboons ( Papio ursinus ) living at the urban edge in Cape Town, South Africa. The group is managed by a dedicated team of field rangers, who use aversive conditioning to reduce the time spent by the group in urban spaces. Adult males are larger, more assertive, and more inclined to enter houses, and as such are disproportionately subject to “last resort” lethal management. Field rangers therefore focus efforts on curbing the movements of adult males, which, together with high-ranking females and their offspring, comprise the bulk of the group. However, our results reveal that this focus allows low-ranking, socially peripheral female baboons greater access to urban spaces. We suggest that movement of these females into urban spaces, alone or in small groups, is an adaptive response to management interventions, especially given that they have no natural predators. These results highlight the importance of conducting behavioral studies in conjunction with wildlife management, to ensure effective mitigation techniques.
... Humans are known to impact and alter the behavioural responses of several animal species living close to them. For example, urban hedgehogs change their foraging behaviour to avoid crowded areas in daylight (Dowding et al., 2010), and great tits use higher pitch in their calls in the noisy urban environment (Slabbekoorn & Peet, 2003;Zollinger et al., 2017). Impact of humans on animals can be direct, by means of human -animal interactions, or indirect, mediated by several anthropogenic factors. ...
Article
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In urban environments, humans are a part of an interaction network of several species, impacting them directly or indirectly. The positive, negative and neutral components of such impact can be assessed by studying human-animal interactions in various habitats. While studies have shown animals' reactions to specific human social cues, information is lacking on how animals respond to such cues in the presence and absence of conspecifics. We investigated the behavioural responses of free-ranging dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) towards various human social cues (neutral, friendly, low-and high-impact threatening) when presented to groups. We used previously published data on dogs' reactions to identical cues when presented solitarily, and compared them with the group-level responses. Our results strengthen the idea of situation-relevant responsiveness in free-ranging dogs. Dogs in groups exhibited higher approach and less avoidance towards the unfamiliar human experimenter, especially towards the threatening cues, compared to dogs tested alone.
... Behavioural changes seen in urban populations of animals include alterations to foraging, microhabitat use, dispersal, antipredator, social and reproductive behaviour. For example, high anthropogenic disturbances in terms of human mobility and vehicular traffic can disrupt foraging efficiency in several animals which tend to avoid human activity, or shift their foraging time to after dark when human activity is comparatively lower (Tigas et al. 2002;Dowding et al. 2010). Conversely, greater food availability in urban areas due to human food provisioning and resource shift have also resulted in unexpected alterations in the diet of urban residents, as well as associated behaviours like early breeding or lower foraging activity (Lowry et al. 2013;Balakrishna et al. 2016). ...
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The objective of this book is to review the current state of knowledge on the impact of climate change on Indian biodiversity. The chapters - contributed by leading ecologists, ecosystem scientists, hydrologists and conservation biologists - cover the threats posed by climate change to ecosystem functions and services, phenology, pollinators, forest dynamics, marine and coastal ecosystems, the Himalayas, freshwater ecosystems, urban ecosystems and wildlife-human conflict.
... This could provide deeper insights into the question of how often rabbits use underground passages to overcome anthropogenic barriers (such as streets) and how often traffic is a cause of death. We observed individuals to avoid daytime traffic by crossing streets during the night (see also Dowding et al. 2010 for hedgehogs, Erinaceus europaeus). While we did find rabbit carcasses along streets, in only few cases could we unequivocally identify traffic accidents as the cause of death, precluding a quantitative analysis of those incidences. ...
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Various mammals, particularly carnivores, reportedly establish smaller home ranges in urban compared with rural areas. This may be because urban environments provide optimal resources within a small area, negating the requirement to range further, or because habitat fragmentation constrains ranging behavior. Comparable information on urban populations of herbivorous mammalian species (such as European rabbits) is scarce. To fill this knowledge gap, we radio-tracked 13 individuals (seven females and six males) equipped with radio collars in a suburban and an urban study site in the city of Frankfurt am Main in Germany during the reproductive season (March to September) of 2012. The study sites differed in levels of habitat fragmentation. We report the smallest home ranges ever described for this species, with mean 95% minimum convex polygons (MCPs) covering 0.50 ha, while no consistent differences between sites were uncovered. We occasionally tracked individuals crossing streets underground (in burrows), suggesting that streets may restrict the ranging behavior of rabbits—and possibly other burrowing species—to a much lesser extent than previously thought. We conclude that heterogeneous landscape structures, made up of a diverse mosaic of buildings, parks, and gardens, provide sufficient food and shelter in close proximity to burrows at both study sites. Therefore, our data support the hypothesis that optimal resources constrain ranges in this case rather than habitat fragmentation.
... The tendency for nesting in the absence of the visible moon may be related to predation. Several species have been found to show a the preference for foraging on dark nights to avoid predators, and predatory behavior may change across the lunar cycle (Horning and Trillmich 1999;Dowding et al. 2010). We visually confirmed the presence of the following potential predators in the study area: foxes, armadillos, domestic dogs and crabs. ...
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The behavior of sea turtle species can be influenced by the lunar cycle, possibly due to moonlight variability. We analyzed the relationship between nesting behavior and moon phase using nesting hawksbill turtle records for beaches in Northeast Brazil for the 2006–2007 to 2015–2016 seasons. The total number of records was 4807, while the total number with time point registration was 1031. The Eretmochelys imbricata inter-nesting period was approximately half the lunar cycle; we therefore expected nesting phase synchronization with lunar phases within each season. We computed the lunar angle for the hawksbill records, and the Kuiper test for uniformity indicated that the species shows some lunar phase preferences. We observed that oviposition at the first and last quarters of the moon is more frequent than at full moon or new moon phases. We also computed the lunar angle throughout several seasons for remigrant turtles and found an absence of preferential lunar phase across different seasons. This indicates that the hawksbill does not choose a lunar phase previously chosen in other nesting seasons. We analyzed the relationship between the presence of the moon in the sky and nesting turtles, and, in sequence, compared the records of false crawls and nest crawls; no relation was found between these variables.
... For terrestrial mammals, movement and activity associated with foraging behavior can be a high-risk activity in urban environments (e.g. by collision with vehicles) (Lowry et al. 2013). One way that urban mammals can deal with this disturbance is by altering their behavior, specifically, individuals become more active after human and vehicular traffic are reduced (Dowding et al. 2010;Patten and Burger 2018). Thus, the most important adaptations for the mammalian's persistence in urban areas are small body size, behavioral plasticity, and diet diversity (Santini et al. 2019). ...
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Mammals are one of the most negatively affected groups by urbanization, nevertheless, urban reserves can help their conservation. The study of wildlife within the reserves is important for the persistence of these populations, but stressors factors as feral fauna might endanger the conservation of wildlife. Therefore, our objective was to analyze the patterns of temporal and spatial activity of wild and feral mammals within the San Angel Pedregal Ecological Reserve, UNAM, Mexico City, using trap cameras. We found five species of wild mammals and two feral ones. All mammals were primarily nocturnal, except for the Rock Squirrel which changes their behavior in comparison with individuals in natural habitats. All wildlife species showed a high temporal overlap of activity with feral fauna particularly, Rock Squirrel, Eastern Cottontail, and Gray Fox. The analysis of spatial co-occurrence showed that the probability of an encounter between species at a certain point of the reservation is random. Although, due to the reduced area of the reserve, species may overlap spatially. In general, our results indicate that feral fauna has a high overlap of activity with wildlife, however, the studied reserve protects wildlife populations. Therefore, to reduce this overlap, we recommend creating a dog and cat management program for urban protected areas and surrounding areas. Particularly in REPSA, we encourage to continue with the control program of feral species in the long term and change the management of waste within the UNAM.
... As a result, lack of socialization might have resulted in their minimal responses of approach toward the human experimenter. Thus, dogs' reactions to the unfamiliar human experimenter in the low flux zones are reminiscent of the inherent tendency of any free-ranging animal to avoid humans (Dowding et al., 2010;Gaynor, Hojnowski, Carter, & Brashares, 2018). ...
Article
Cohabiting with humans in the same ecological space requires significant variation in the behavioral repertoire of animals. Behavioral variation can potentially improve the chances of survival of an individual. The influence of humans can be measured by quantifying specific behavioral parameters of the interacting individuals. Sociability or the tendency to be friendly toward others is one of many personality traits in animals that can provide us with insights regarding their relationship with humans. Free-ranging dogs are one of the successful urban-adapted species that interact with humans regularly, which, in turn, influences their behavioral properties. In this study, we tested 600 adult dogs from 60 sites across India, categorized as high, low, and intermediate human flux zones, to understand their degree of sociability toward an unfamiliar human. Initially, a “positive vocalization phase” was carried out. Unresponsive dogs were further tested in a “stimulus phase.” The first phase was characterized by positive vocal sounds, while the second one included both food and positive vocalization. In addition, we surveyed a total of 1,200 people from the 60 sites to understand their perception of free-ranging dogs. Dogs in the IF zones were highly sociable compared to the other zones. High human flux zone dogs were reluctant to approach initially but showed an increased approach when food was provided. Low human flux zone dogs were the least sociable, and even the food reward had minimal impact on them. Our study provides the first evidence of behavioral variation in the degree of sociability of free-ranging dogs in urban environments.
... This increased availability of prey has been suggested as a potential factor drawing hedgehogs into artificially illuminated areas such as roads [50]. Second, hedgehogs might avoid artificially lit areas to reduce the risk of encountering humans or predators, which can be detrimental to survival [51]. Concordant with this hypothesis, the nocturnal beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus) prefers food patches situated further away from artificial light sources [52]. ...
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With urban areas growing worldwide comes an increase in artificial light at night (ALAN), causing a significant impact on wildlife behaviour and its ecological relationships. The effects of ALAN on nocturnal and protected European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) are unknown but their identification is important for sustainable species conservation and management. In a pilot study, we investigated the influence of ALAN on the natural movement behaviour of 22 hedgehogs (nine females, 13 males) in urban environments. Over the course of four years, we equipped hedgehogs at three different study locations in Berlin with biologgers to record their behaviour for several weeks. We used Global Positioning System (GPS) tags to monitor their spatial behaviour, very high-frequency (VHF) loggers to locate their nests during daytime, and accelerometers to distinguish between active and passive behaviours. We compared the mean light intensity of the locations recorded when the hedgehogs were active with the mean light intensity of simulated locations randomly distributed in the individual’s home range. We were able to show that the ALAN intensity of the hedgehogs’ habitations was significantly lower compared to the simulated values, regardless of the animal’s sex. This ALAN-related avoidance in the movement behaviour can be used for applied hedgehog conservation.
... ( Table 1). Radii of 250 and 500 m were selected based upon existing data of hedgehog nightly ranges outside the hibernation season [15,59]. Minimum grass level and air temperatures, and weekly rainfall volume, were taken from a weather station on the University of Reading's Whiteknights campus [60]. ...
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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 of Reading, UK, over the winter of 2017–2018 using a volunteer-based footprint tunnel survey, and collected data on garden characteristics, supplementary feeding (SF) habits, and local environmental conditions. Over a 20-week survey period, hedgehog presence was lowest between January and March. Occupancy analysis indicated that SF significantly affected hedgehog presence/absence before, during, and after hibernation. The number of nesting opportunities available in gardens, average temperatures, and daylength were also supported as important factors at different stages. In particular, our results suggest that SF could act to increase levels of activity during the winter when hedgehogs should be hibernating. Stimulating increased activity at this sensitive time could push hedgehogs into a net energy deficit or, conversely, help some individuals survive which might not otherwise do so. Therefore, further research is necessary to determine whether patterns of feeding by householders have a positive or negative effect on hedgehog populations during the hibernation period.
... Many animals respond to human disturbance by altering their behaviors, which in turn may have positive or negative impacts on fitness Wong and Candolin 2015). Some animals shift their activity patterns to avoid humans (Dowding et al. 2010) while others adapt to urban development (Sol et al. 2013) or even thrive as invasive pests (Sih et al. 2010). Human alteration of the landscape can have a significant impact on species through habitat fragmentation, degradation, or loss. ...
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The basic spatial ecology and habitat relationships of female bighorn sheep in Nebraska are poorly understood. Establishing seasonal patterns of space use and resource selection for this population at the margin of their historical and current range addresses a key knowledge gap and provides important baseline information for ongoing conservation efforts in Nebraska. We deployed GPS radio-collars on 56 adult ewes in western Nebraska to quantify seasonal space use, movements, and resource selection of ewes. To investigate spatial ecology, we quantified movements of ewes and the factors that influence home range size, seasonal use, and spatial stability across seasons. Home range behavior and seasonal movements within this population appear to differ from others that have strong migratory tendencies. Multivariate modeling highlighted seasonal differences in space use and predicted a generally positive, non-linear relationship between home range size and road density. We also quantified resource selection patterns of female bighorn sheep within their home ranges and inferred factors that influence resource selection with a focus on predation risk, forage efficiency, and human disturbance. We used mixed-effects logistic regression with used and available locations for each individual to evaluate selection of topographical features, escape terrain, an index of high quality forage, and natural and anthropogenic landscape features. Ewes selected escape terrain, more rugged terrain, higher elevations, and water in all seasons. Selection of roads, development, and crops varied by season and subpopulation. Our work elucidates behavioral patterns of female bighorn sheep in Nebraska that may influence their survival and reproductive success. Our results should contribute to improved understanding of the factors limiting population growth for this declining population of conservation concern. Advisor: John F. Benson
... Shifts towards crepuscular or nocturnal activity have been observed in a range of urban species, including hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus), coyotes (C. latrans), dingoes (Canis dingo) and bobcats (Lynx rufus; Grinder and Krausman 2001;Ditchkoff, Saalfeld, and Gibson 2006;George and Crooks 2006;Dowding et al. 2010;McNeill et al. 2016). The red fox is primarily nocturnal (Travaini et al. 1993;Lariviere and Pasitschniak-Arts 1996). ...
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With urban encroachment on wild landscapes accelerating globally, there is an urgent need to understand how wildlife is adapting to anthropogenic change. We compared the behaviour of the invasive red fox (Vulpes vulpes) at eight urban and eight peri-urban areas of Sydney, Australia. We observed fox behaviour around a lure and compared fox activity patterns to those of potential prey and to two domestic predators (dogs-Canis lupus familiaris and cats-Felis catus). We assessed the influence of site type, vegetation cover, and distance from habitation on fox behaviour, and compared the temporal activity patterns of urban and peri-urban red foxes. Urban red foxes were marginally more nocturnal than those in peri-urban areas (88% activity overlap). There was greater overlap of red fox activity patterns with introduced mammalian prey in urban areas compared with peri-urban areas (90% urban vs 84% peri-urban). Red fox temporal activity overlapped 78% with cats, but only 20% with dogs, across both site types. The high degree of overlap with cats and introduced mammalian prey is most likely explained by the nocturnal behaviour of these species, while pet dogs are generally kept in yards or indoors at night. The behavioural differences we documented by urban red foxes suggest they may adapt to human modifications and presence, by being more nocturnal and/or more confident in urban areas.
... The degree to which predation could limit hedgehog populations is unknown, as are the badger predation rates experienced by hedgehogs across their distribution. However, there is evidence that hedgehogs spatially avoid badgers [20,50], and that in areas where badger numbers have been reduced via culling, local hedgehog numbers have responded positively [39]. ...
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Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) are traditionally thought of as being a rural dwelling species, associated with rural and agricultural landscapes across Europe. However, recent studies have highlighted that hedgehogs are more likely to be found in urban than rural habitats in the United Kingdom. Here, we review the status of rural hedgehog populations across the UK and evaluate the potential benefits of agri-environment schemes for hedgehog persistence, while highlighting a lack of empirical evidence that agri-environment options will benefit hedgehog populations. Our synthesis has implications for future conservation strategies for hedgehogs and insectivorous mammals living in agricultural landscapes, and calls for more empirical studies on agri-environment options and their potential benefits to hedgehogs.
... They have also developed behavioral strategies to minimize risks associated with human activities. For instance, individuals avoid foraging near roads and are more active after midnight when road and foot traffic are low (Dowding et al., 2010). Males are more mobile than females (larger home ranges and longer traveling distances inside their home range). ...
Article
Landscape connectivity promotes dispersal and other types of movement, including foraging activity; consequently, the inclusion of connectivity concept is a priority in conservation and landscape planning in response to fragmentation. Urban planners expect the scientific community to provide them with an easy, but scientifically rigorous, method to identify highly connecting contexts in landscapes. The least-cost paths (LCP) method is one of the simplest resistance-based models that could be a good candidate to spatially identify areas where movement is potentially favored in a given landscape. We tested the efficiency of LCP predictions to detect highly connecting landscape contexts facilitating individual movements compared to those performed in un-connecting landscape contexts. We used a landscape-level behavioral experiment based on a translocation protocol and individual repeated measures. In the city of Rennes (France), 30 male hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) were translocated and radio-tracked in both highly connecting and un-connecting contexts, respectively, which were determined by the presence and absence of modelled LCPs. Individual movement patterns were compared between the two predicted contexts. Individuals travelled longer distances, moved faster, and were more active in the highly connecting contexts compared to the un-connecting contexts. Moreover, in highly connecting contexts, hedgehog movement followed LCP orientation, with individuals using more wooded habitats than other land cover class. By using a rigorous experimental design, this study validated the ecological relevance of LCP analysis to identify highly connecting areas, and could be easily implemented by urban landscape planners.
... Shrews could accomplish this by staying inside their shelter for a longer time, resting or even entering torpor (Oliveira et al. 2016;Thompson et al. 2018). Additionally, shrews could shift their activity peaks and foraging efforts to periods when human activity is lower as described for other mammals (Dowding et al. 2010;Gese et al. 2012;Gaynor et al. 2018). ...
Article
The global trend of urbanization is creating novel challenges for many animal species. Studies investigating behavioral differences between rural and urban populations often report a general increase in risk-taking behaviors in urban populations. According to the most common energy management model (the performance model), behaviors that increase access to resources, such as aggression and boldness, and behaviors that consume net energy, like locomotion and stress responses, are both positively correlated to resting metabolic rate (RMR). Thus, we expect urban populations to not only exhibit a higher level of risk-taking behavior but also a higher RMR. However, these interactions remain poorly investigated. Our main goal was to analyze the relationship between RMR and risk-taking behaviors in the greater white-toothed shrew (Crocidura russula) in rural versus urban populations. Trapped shrews were brought to captivity where we measured RMR, boldness, and exploration rate three times in each individual. Our findings revealed that urban shrews were indeed bolder and more exploratory, but contrary to our expectations, their RMR was lower than that of rural shrews. This is likely explained by differences in the environmental conditions of these two habitats, such as higher ambient temperatures and/or lower prey availability in cities. When looking at each population separately, this relationship remained similar: urban shrews with a higher RMR were less bold, and rural shrews with a higher RMR showed a lower exploration rate. We conclude that the energetic strategy of C. russula is dependent on the environmental and observational context and cannot be explained by the performance model.
... We have seen that the number of captured males was higher than that of females, which confirms the observations made throughout the area of distribution of the species during the spring period [13,14,18]. Males are regularly observed the first from March, because their range is greater than that of females [19,20], and also because this strong spring locomotor activity (maximum in May) is closely related to the breeding season [21,22,23]. In the European species, the earlier reactivation of gonadal function in the males supports the end of hibernation [24]. ...
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Background: Reproduction phenology of hibernant or potentially hibernant species has always intrigued many scientists. Indeed, their capacity to decrease their activity during winter (heart rate, respiratory, digestive ...), or to trigger reproductive cycle (ovulation and spermatogenesis) during spring period, make the species, including Micro mammals, a favorite models in ecophysiology studies. Objective: Our study aims to identify and analyze some indicators testifying the onset of breeding season at Atelerix algirus in a semi urban area of National Parc of El Kala. Results: The results showed that Males are more abundant than females during the spring period, the morphometric parameters of males, specially the body weight, are higher than females and the tissular observation of gonads reveals an intense sexual activity. Conclusion: the analyzed indicators confirm the triggering of breeding season.
... Hedgehogs often live in the vicinity of towns and villages as these provide greater protection against predators including badgers and foxes that tend, in contrast, to avoid these places [2]. Hedgehogs also like to use gardens and parks in towns and villages to search for their food [3], which is comprised mainly of invertebrates. The public is often aware a1111111111 a1111111111 a1111111111 a1111111111 a1111111111 of the fact that hedgehogs occur in their vicinity and that they can support the presence of hedgehogs in their gardens by feeding them, by making gardens accessible, or by playing a part in their protection in other ways. ...
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This study aimed to assess the numbers of juvenile European hedgehogs admitted to rescue centers in the Czech Republic from the viewpoint of their weight on admission, the reason for their admission, and the success rate of their release back into the wild. The results of our study show varying levels of success in the rearing of hedgehogs admitted at different ages (weights) and a varying period required for their rehabilitation. The greatest chance of release was seen in hedgehogs with a weight on the admission of 500–599 g (64.22% released) and 400–499 g (63.31% released). In contrast, the smallest number of young hedgehogs successfully rehabilitated and released was seen in hoglets weighing 200–299 g (35.24% released) on admission, which corresponds to the weight of hedgehogs at the time of weaning. Time spent at a rescue center may pose an undesirable threat to the lives of animals in some categories. Hedgehogs weighing up to 99 g on admission spent the longest period time at rescue centers (a median of 48 days), while hedgehogs weighing 500–599 g on admission spent the shortest time (a median of 7 days). The majority of hedgehogs in the lowest weight categories were admitted due to their inability to survive on their own. A large percentage of hedgehogs of greater weight, in contrast, were juvenile hedgehogs brought to rescue centers needlessly. The percentage of released animals did not exceed 65%, however, even for entirely independent categories of older juveniles. From this perspective, the fact that hedgehogs are often brought to rescue centers in the belief that they are not self-sufficient young, though they are actually juvenile or even adult individuals that do not require human care, can be considered a significant finding.
... Other studies indicate that hedgehogs may prefer urban areas, as they offer more suitable nest sites and ensure a lower risk of predation from European badgers (Meles meles) [18]. Although hedgehogs residing in urban areas primarily become active after midnight and avoid foraging near roads, which is likely to reduce the dangers and disturbances caused by human activities such as vehicle and foot traffic and the disturbances from dogs, their contact with humans and pets is reported more frequently every year [19,20]. The major microbial infections associated with hedgehogs have bacterial aetiology, i.e. ...
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The European hedgehog ( Erinaceus europaeus Linnaeus) frequently colonises areas located close to human life in cities, as these are more suitable nest sites offering an abundance of food and allowing avoidance of predators. However, urbanisation has a significant impact on the epidemiology of infectious diseases, including dermatophytoses, the primary source of which are wild animals. In this study, we determined the spectrum of dermatophytes isolated from the European hedgehog and assessed their susceptibility profile to antifungal drugs. Symptomatic and asymptomatic dermatophyte infections were observed in 7.7% and 8% of the 182 examined free-living hedgehogs, respectively. In the pool of the isolated dermatophyte strains, Trichophyton erinacei was dominant (29.9%), followed by Trichophyton mentagrophytes (17.9%), Trichophyton benhamiae (13.4%), Nannizzia gypsea (11.9%), Microsporum canis (10.4%), Nannizzia nana (7.5%), Paraphyton cookei (6.0%), and Nannizzia fulva (3.0%). Susceptibility tests revealed the highest activity of luliconazole and the lowest of activity fluconazole among the azole drugs applied. Although terbinafine generally exhibited high efficacy, two Trichophyton mentagrophytes isolates showed resistance to this drug (MIC = 2 µg/ml) resulting from missense mutations in the SQLE gene corresponding to the amino acid substitution Leu393Phe. Summarising, our study has also revealed that such wildlife animals as hedgehogs can be a reservoir of pathogenic human dermatophytes, including harmful strains resistant to commonly used antifungal drugs. Graphical Abstract
... 63%) have shifted their range to the north (Parmesan et al., 1999). Hedgehogs also changed their habitat-use by shifting their feeding and ranging behaviour to avoid human presence (Dowding et al., 2010). More recently, Tucker et al (2018) demonstrated that non-volant terrestrial mammals show a reduced movement of 30-50% in response to human footprint. ...
... It is widely distributed and can survive across a wide range of habitat types [1,2]. However, investigations on both national and local scales have documented declines, or expressed concerns about decline, of the hedgehog populations in several western European countries [3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]. The suspected reasons for the decline include habitat loss and fragmentation, intensified agricultural practices, inbreeding, road traffic accidents, lack of biodiversity and suitable nest sites in residential gardens, molluscicide and rodenticide poisoning, and badger predation [4,[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23]. In Denmark, where this study occurred, hedgehogs become active after hibernation in mid-April to mid-May [22,24,25]. ...
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Background The European population of hedgehogs ( Erinaceus europaeus ) is declining. It is therefore essential to optimise conservation initiatives such as the rehabilitation of sick, injured and orphaned hedgehogs. Wild animals placed in captivity may be prone to chronic stress, potentially causing negative health effects. Therefore, the effects of these rehabilitation efforts should consequently be evaluated. Furthermore, hand-raising orphaned hedgehogs is a laborious and costly task, and it is therefore relevant to document whether they have equal post release survival rates compared to their wild conspecifics. The objectives of this research were therefore to conduct an exploratory study of glucocorticoid levels in hedgehogs from different backgrounds and compare the post release survival of translocated, rehabilitated and wild, juvenile hedgehogs as well as the possible effect on survival of differences in shy or bold behaviour (personality) exhibited by individuals. Results We measured glucocorticoid levels in 43 wild-caught (n = 18) and rehabilitated (n = 25) hedgehogs and compared the post release survival and spatial behaviour of 18 translocated juvenile hedgehogs (eight hand-raised and ten wild) until hibernation. The possible effect on survival of differences in shy or bold behaviour (personality) exhibited by 17 juvenile individuals (seven hand-raised and ten wild) was also examined. Rehabilitated individuals and females had higher levels of faecal corticosterone metabolites compared to wild individuals and males, respectively. Rehabilitated individuals showed higher levels of saliva corticosterone than wild. The personality tests labelled 13 individuals as shy and 11 as bold. Post release survival was 57% for rehabilitated and 50% for wild individuals. Neither background nor personality affected post release survival. Home range measures were 3.54 and 4.85 ha. Mean dispersal length from the release sites was 217 ± 100 m. Conclusion The higher levels of corticosterone observed in rehabilitated compared to wild hedgehogs calls for consideration of the duration of admission to wildlife rehabilitation centres to reduce stress levels in the patients. Hand-raised juveniles appear to have the same prospects as wild, and personality does not seem to affect post release survival in hedgehogs, indicating that hand-raising of orphaned juvenile hedgehogs is a relevant contribution to the conservation of this species.
... As research indicates that European hedgehogs are increasingly associated with human habitation [7,8,[15][16][17] and are often seen foraging on grassy turf in the gardens and green spaces of urban areas [18][19][20][21][22], it seems likely that numerous individuals will encounter several robotic lawn mowers during their lifetimes. To our knowledge, there has thus far been no systematic scientific research evaluating whether this risk of physical damage is mere hearsay or a real and present threat to be added to the already vulnerable species. ...
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We tested the effects of 18 models of robotic lawn mowers in collision with dead European hedgehogs and quantified the results into six damage categories. All models were tested on four weight classes of hedgehogs, each placed in three different positions. None of the robotic lawn mowers tested was able to detect the presence of dependent juvenile hedgehogs (<200 g) and all models had to touch the hedgehogs to detect them. Some models caused extensive damage to the hedgehog cadavers, but there were noteworthy differences in the degree of harm inflicted, with some consistently causing no damage. Our results showed that the following technical features significantly increased the safety index of the robotic lawn mowers: pivoting blades, skid plates, and front wheel drive. Based on these findings, we encourage future collaboration with the manufacturers of robotic lawn mowers to improve the safety for hedgehogs and other garden wildlife species.
... Examples in the literature link human activities to alteration in mammal foraging behaviour (e.g. black bears Ursus americanus: Beckmann & Berger, 2003; chimpanzees Pan troglodytes verus : Hockings, Anderson, & Matsuzawa, 2012; European hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus: Dowding, Harris, Poulto, & Baker, 2010; key deer Odocoileus virginianus clavium: Harveson, Lopez, Collier, & Silvy, 2007;stonemarten Martes foina: Herr, Schley, Engel, & Roper, 2010; killer whales Orcinus orca: Williams, Lusseau, & Hammond, 2006). Likewise, some studies point out that anthropogenic food resources affect the foraging behaviour of several generalist mammal species (e.g. ...
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1. In the coastal environment, marine mammals are exposed to one of the fastest-growing food production sector, i.e. the shellfish farming industry. Identification of critical habitats, such as foraging grounds in highly human-impacted areas, is essential to species conservation. Therefore, understanding the variables that influence a species’ foraging behaviour is important for their conservation, especially for long-lived mammals such as cetaceans. 2. The aims of this study were: (i) to identify and quantify the environmental and anthropogenic drivers of wild bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) foraging behaviour and (ii) to investigate whether the shellfish farming industry influences the behaviour of this species. 3. Behavioural observations were conducted along the north-western coast of Spain, an area affected by intensive human activities, particularly the shellfish aquaculture industry. 4. A multi-modelling approach highlighted the importance of shellfish farm areas as a foraging ground for bottlenose dolphins. Dolphins were predicted to be more likely found foraging inside shellfish farm areas than outside (57 vs. 43%). 5. Variability in bottlenose dolphin behaviour is likely a result of the interactions of environmental and anthropogenic drivers with prey availability and physiological needs of the dolphins. Although shellfish farm areas provide high prey density for dolphins, they can also pose threats in a number of ways (i.e. collisions with vessels, entanglement with ropes, habitat loss, noise and water pollution). 6. From a conservation perspective, aquaculture management should consider the presence of dolphins foraging and minimise the associated risks that this industry may pose to these coastal cetaceans.
... Prey may employ similar strategies to mitigate risks from humans as they do to mitigate risks from natural predators (Parsons et al., 2016). As such, fear effects in urban environments can result in prey modifying temporal activity or habitat selection to reduce predation risks (Chambers and Dickman, 2002;Dowding et al., 2010). Discernment between immediate and distal threats requires delegating time to vigilance in order to assess and respond to risks across the landscape. ...
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Rapid urbanization coupled with increased human activity induces pressures that affect predator-prey relations through a suite of behavioral mechanisms, including alteration of avoidance and coexistence dynamics. Synergisms of natural and anthropogenic threats existing within urban environments exacerbate the necessity for species to differentially modify behavior to each risk. Here, we explore the behavioral response of a key prey species, cottontail rabbits ( Sylvilagus floridanus) , to pressures from humans, domestic dogs, and a natural predator, coyotes ( Canis latrans ) in a human-dominated landscape. We conducted the first camera survey in urban parks throughout Detroit, Michigan in 2017–2020 to assess vigilance response corresponding to a heterogeneous landscape created from variation in the occupancy of threats. We predicted a scaled response where cottontail rabbits would be most vigilant in areas with high coyote activity, moderately vigilant in areas with high domestic dog activity, and the least vigilant in areas of high human activity. From 8,165 independent cottontail rabbit detections in Detroit across 11,616 trap nights, one-third were classified as vigilant. We found vigilance behavior increased with coyote occupancy and in locations with significantly high domestic dog activity, but found no significant impact of human occupancy or their spatial hotspots. We also found little spatial overlap between rabbits and threats, suggesting rabbits invest more in spatial avoidance; thus, less effort is required for vigilance. Our results elucidate strategies of a prey species coping with various risks to advance our understanding of the adaptability of wildlife in urban environments. In order to promote coexistence between people and wildlife in urban greenspaces, we must understand and anticipate the ecological implications of human-induced behavioral modifications.
... Boxplots show the median and the upper and lower quartiles, with the whiskers representing data within the 1.5× interquartile range. Points represent outliers Baseline levels: rural habitat, silence sound and 21 h playback Individual identity was used as a random intercept, and sound was used as a random slope Different variances were allowed for each habitat lower human activity, a behavior already described for other mammals (Dowding et al. 2010;Gaynor et al. 2018). Crocidurines are predominantly nocturnal, but still show some bouts of activity during the day (Baxter et al. 1979;Genoud and Vogel 1981;Oliveira et al. 2016). ...
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The development of urban areas imposes challenges that wildlife must adapt to in order to persist in these new habitats. One of the greatest changes brought by urbanization has been an increase in anthropogenic noise, with negative consequences for the natural behavior of animals. Small mammals are particularly vulnerable to urbanization and noise, despite some species having successfully occupied urban environments. To understand some of the traits that have enabled small mammals to deal with the consequences of urbanization, we compared the behavioral responses of urban and rural greater white-toothed shrews, Crocidura russula, to different sound stimuli. A total of 32 shrews, 16 from each habitat, were exposed in captivity to four sound treatments: silence, tawny owl calls, traffic noise, and white noise. Urban and rural shrews showed different behaviors, with urban animals being more active, feeding more frequently, and using less torpor than rural individuals. However, responses to sound treatments were similar in both populations: urban and rural shrews exhibited a slight decrease in activity and feeding behavior, as well as more fleeing responses, when exposed to traffic noise or white noise, but not to owl calls. These results suggest urbanization induces long-term changes in the general activity of C. russula, but the short-term behavioral response to sound disturbance remains similar in rural and urban populations.
... Dogs in the low flux zones encounter very less number of humans, and as a result, lack of socialization might have resulted into their minimal responses of approach towards the human experimenter. Thus, dogs' responses to the unfamiliar human experimenter in the low flux zones are reminiscent of the inherent tendency of any free-ranging animal to avoid humans (Dowding et al., 2010;Gaynor et al., 2018) The demeanours of the dogs in high and intermediate flux zones were similar despite their varying degrees of sociability. However, fearful and anxious behavioural states were shown by dogs in the low flux zones which again might be indicative of least human socialization and an increased level of stranger aversion. ...
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Co-habiting with humans in an urban ecological space requires adequate variation in a species’ behavioural repertoire. The eco-ethology of many urban species have been shown to be modified due to human activities leading to urban adaptations. Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are the first species to have been domesticated and have a long evolutionary history of co-habitation with humans. In the last two decades, scientists have investigated various questions on dogs pertaining to its domestication. In fact, no other species belonging to the family Canidae has received such attention in the scientific world. Unfortunately, majority of the work was confined to pet dogs in the western countries. Pet dogs are the result of artificial breeding based on desirable traits and their activities are typically determined by their owners. Free-ranging dogs found in most of the developing countries, on the other hand, represent a naturally breeding population without direct human supervision. Studying free-ranging dogs can thus provide us with crucial insights on the ecology and evolution of dogs in greater detail. Close to 80% of the world’s dog population is free-ranging, yet scientific studies on them are almost non-existent. Scientists have realised the importance and need of studying these dogs very recently to address various facets of the much debated domestication event. Free-ranging dogs are a highly successful urban-adapted species living in all possible human habitats in the developing countries. The dog-human relationship is highly complex and possess multiple trajectories. For example, these dogs depend on human subsidized food, choose dens near human households, yet receive a range of negative stimuli from humans; mortality of these dogs is mostly influenced by humans. In this thesis, we tried to answer questions relating to the dog-human relationship on Indian streets. My thesis involved an interdisciplinary approach where behavioural, cognitive, and ecological aspects are discussed to shed light on the evolution of the dog-human relationship. We began the work by looking at the natural history of free-ranging dogs in India. We collected data on the abundance of dogs and the distribution of their potential food resources, across India. Moreover, we recorded the sex ratio, group size, and behaviours of dogs at different study locations. We characterized study areas with regard to human activity levels by estimating human flux or movement and categorised them into low, intermediate and high flux zones. Our findings clearly suggested varying distribution of dogs and their food resources across different microhabitats in India. While a direct effect of food resource was not found, human flux significantly predicted the distribution of dogs. Moreover, we found a strong impact of changing human flux on the abundance and behavioural activity of free-ranging dogs. In the next section, we investigated the intra-group dynamics of dogs from the perspective of long-debated dominance-rank relationships. We looked at the steepness and linearity of agonistic and formal dominance hierarchies of groups of dogs from intermediate and high human flux zones. Our study did not reveal any clear dominance hierarchy among the free-ranging dogs, either in the intermediate or high human flux zones. The overall frequencies of interactions between the group members were found to be quite low, with many unknown interactions between for several dyads. We also proposed the use of subtle behavioural cues to maintain hierarchy rather than showing frequent behavioural exchanges in dogs. Findings from the study further led us to test free-ranging dogs’ interactions with humans. We found that these dogs interact with humans more compared to their conspecifics. Interestingly, we noticed that dogs rarely initiated behaviours towards humans, while humans played the predominant role in initiating both positive and negative behaviours towards dogs. We concluded that humans are a predominant part of the interaction network of the Indian free-ranging dogs. This opened up a window of testing dogs’ physical and social cognitive abilities. We found that free-ranging dogs lack the ability to persist on physical cognitive tasks and are poor performers like pet dogs. A higher dependence on humans is thought to be a key factor restricting dogs from persisting on an unfamiliar task. Interestingly, free-ranging dogs, as scavengers, showed competence while solving a familiar task, though task difficulty remained a factor that could not be disentangled. A partial dependence on humans was assumed to be the outcome of their long-history of co-evolution which resulted in a reduced problem-solving capacity in dogs. Surprisingly, a role of social facilitation was observed which predicted improved performances in both familiar and unfamiliar tasks. Free-ranging dogs like any other urban species are typically found to be aversive towards making direct physical contact with unfamiliar humans. The sociability of dogs was found to correlate with human flux, suggesting a role of life experience in shaping the personalities of these dogs. Dogs were shown to understand different human social cues and respond accordingly. The dogs in groups were bolder while responding to threatening cues from humans than in the solitary condition. Using two studies, we showed their ability to understand human pointing gestures, both simple and complex. The behavioural states of the dogs were heavily found to influence their responses towards humans. Dogs were found to be anxious or fearful while encountering an unfamiliar human. Interestingly, we found a crucial role of positive socialization in the form of petting in modifying such behavioural states of dogs and further building a strong dog-human relationship. In summary, this thesis provides unprecedented inputs into the current understanding of the evolution of dog-human relationship. The findings are not only restricted to the scientific advancement but may also be helpful in mitigating the growing doghuman conflict on the streets in India, by enhancing an understanding of the dynamics of the relationship between the two species, that might enable better management strategies.
... This affects individuals differently depending on their phenotype (e.g. sex and age: [31][32][33]), with consequences for group-level patterns of behaviour. For example, changes in resources and risks can prevent individuals from foraging together at specific locations [27,34,35], exaggerating differences in motivation or hunger among individuals and creating conflicts of interest [7,36]. ...
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Collective behaviour has a critical influence on group social structure and organization, individual fitness and social evolution, but we know little about whether and how it changes in anthropogenic environments. Here, we show multiple and varying effects of urban space-use upon group-level processes in a primate generalist-the chacma baboon (Papio ursinus)-within a managed wild population living at the urban edge in the City of Cape Town, South Africa. In natural space, we observe baboon-typical patterns of collective behaviour. By contrast, in urban space (where there are increased risks, but increased potential for high-quality food rewards), baboons show extreme flexibility in collective behaviour, with changes in spatial cohesion and association networks, travel speeds and group coordination. However, leader-follower roles remain robust across natural and urban space, with adult males having a disproportionate influence on the movement of group members. Their important role in the group's collective behaviour complements existing research and supports the management tactic employed by field rangers of curbing the movements of adult males, which indirectly deters the majority of the group from urban space. Our findings highlight both flexibility and robustness in collective behaviour when groups are presented with novel resources and heightened risks.
... These declines are believed to be driven by habitat loss and fragmentation, intensified agricultural practices, road traffic accidents, molluscicide and rodenticide poisoning, and in some areas badger predation (Brakes & Smith, 2005;Dowding, Harris, Poulton, & Baker, 2010;Dowding, Shore, Worgan, Baker, & Harris, 2010;Haigh, O'Riordan, & Butler, 2012;Hof & Bright, 2010;Huijser & Bergers, 2000;SoBH, 2011;Young et al., 2006). ...
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Abstract European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) populations are widespread across diverse habitats but are declining in Western Europe. Drastic declines have been described in the UK, with the most severe declines occurring in rural areas. Hedgehogs are widely distributed in Denmark, but their status remains unknown. Fieldwork on hedgehogs has tended to focus on rural areas, leaving their ecology in suburban habitats largely unexplored, with clear implications for conservation initiatives. Here, we study the ecology of 35 juvenile hedgehogs using radio tracking during their first year of life in the suburbs of western Copenhagen. We use radio‐tracking data to estimate (a) home range sizes in autumn and spring/summer, (b) survival during their first year of life, (c) the body mass changes before, during, and after hibernation, and (d) the hibernation behavior of the juvenile hedgehogs. We show that males and females have small home ranges compared with previous studies. The 95% MCP home range sizes in autumn were 1.33 ha (95% CI = 0.88–2.00) for males and 1.40 ha (95% CI = 0.84–2.32) for females; for spring/summer they were 6.54 ha (95% CI = 3.76–11.38) for males and 1.51 ha (95% CI = 0.63–3.63) for females. The juvenile survival probabilities during the study period from September 2014 to July 2015 were .56 for females and .79 for males. All healthy individuals gained body mass during the autumn and survived hibernation with little body mass loss thus demonstrating that the juveniles in the study were capable of gaining sufficient weight in the wild to survive their first hibernation. The climate is changing, but there is a lack of knowledge on how this affects mammal ecology. The exceptionally mild autumn of 2014 caused the juvenile hedgehogs to delay hibernation for up to a month compared with previous studies in Denmark.
... Although hedgehogs are widely distributed across Europe [18], we used this species as a model species because of its limited dispersal capacity and its relatively small home range [19,20]. The size of the latter may range from 0.8 ha (England; [21]), over 10 to 40 ha (England; [22]) up to 98 ha (Finland; [23]). Whereas female hedgehogs mostly stay within their habitat patches, male hedgehogs occasionally cover distances of up to 7 km per night [24]. ...
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We use the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), a mammal with limited mobility, as a model species to study whether the structural matrix of the urban environment has an influence on population genetic structure of such species in the city of Berlin (Germany). Using ten established microsatellite loci we genotyped 143 hedgehogs from numerous sites throughout Berlin. Inclusion of all individuals in the cluster analysis yielded three genetic clusters, likely reflecting spatial associations of kin (larger family groups, known as gamodemes). To examine the potential bias in the cluster analysis caused by closely related individuals, we determined all pairwise relationships and excluded close relatives before repeating the cluster analysis. For this data subset (N = 65) both clustering algorithms applied (Structure, Baps) indicated the presence of a single genetic cluster. These results suggest that the high proportion of green patches in the city of Berlin provides numerous steppingstone habitats potentially linking local subpopulations. Alternatively, translocation of individuals across the city by hedgehog rescue facilities may also explain the existence of only a single cluster. We therefore propose that information about management activities such as releases by animal rescue centres should include location data (as exactly as possible) regarding both the collection and the release site, which can then be used in population genetic studies.
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Species inhabiting urban environments experience enormous anthropogenic stress. Behavioural plasticity and flexibility of temperament are crucial to successful urban-adaptation. Urban free-ranging dogs experience variable human impact, from positive to negative and represent an ideal system to evaluate the effects of human-induced stress on behavioural plasticity. We tested 600 adult dogs from 60 sites across India, categorised as high - HF, low - LF, and intermediate - IF human flux zones, to understand their sociability towards an unfamiliar human. Dogs in the HF and IF zones were bolder and as compared to their shy counterparts in LF zones. The IF zone dogs were the most sociable. This is the first-ever study aimed to understand how the experiences of interactions with humans in its immediate environment might shape the responses of an animal to humans. This is very relevant in the context of human-animal conflict induced by rapid urbanization and habitat loss across the world.
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The objective of the study was to establish and refine a method for the genomic characterization of European hedgehogs in Denmark using the second-generation genotyping technique, genotyping by sequencing (GBS). Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were filtered with a read coverage between 20 - 100 and a maximum number of missing data of 25 %. Individuals with > 25 % missing data were removed yielding a total of 2.4 million SNPs, and after filtering for Minor allele frequency (MAF) >1 %, 2902 SNPs remained. Approximately half of the individuals analysed contained less than 75% of the selected SNPs, and were removed, resulting in a sample size of 30. We estimated inbreeding coefficients (F), observed (HO), expected (HE) and unbiased expected (uHE) heterozygosity and the percent of polymorphic loci (P%). We tested for deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWE) and patterns of isolation by distance (IBD). We assessed the genetic structure of the sampled individuals based on a Bayesian clustering method, and tested for recent population expansion or decline. We found a P% = 94.5%, a uHE and HE of mean ± SE; 0.31 ± 0.04 and 0.30 ± 0.02, respectively and an HO of 0.290 ± 0.03. The heterozygosity deficiency was reflected in a positive F-value; 0.1 ± 0.01 and a significant deviation for HWE (p < 0.05). The Mantel test for association between the genetical and geographical distances of populations was not significant (b = 0.007, R = 0.145, p > 0.05). The significant and positive F-value found, was explained by inbreeding, genetic substructure and low effective population size (Ne) which are all consequences of habitat fragmentation. We failed to detect recent signs of a population bottleneck or expansion. Further studies on a larger scale are needed to obtain a general view of the conservation status of the Danish hedgehog population.
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Patient outcomes for hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) casualties are not limited to release versus euthanasia; some hedgehogs have conditions that do not preclude their ability to survive in captivity with human intervention. This research explored the welfare implications and ethical issues of keeping disabled hedgehogs in permanent captivity. Currently, there is very little in the literature and the subject is highly emotive and controversial. A questionnaire was used to assess welfare and these data contrasted with the normal behaviors, environment, and diet of free-living hedgehogs. The most convincing argument for keeping wild animals in captivity is species conservation; however, hedgehogs are not currently listed as endangered. Sixty-six datasets were obtained, representing 194 hedgehogs kept in permanent captivity. Results were mixed, i.e., many respondents providing suitable habitat features (for example, grass and soil 83.3% of respondents, shrubs and/or hedges 69.7% of respondents) observing “positive” behaviors such as foraging for natural foods (69.7% of respondents), and observing appropriate behavioral responses to humans; and some areas for concern, i.e., habitat size (22.7% of respondents reported habitats <10m²), presence of badgers (only 48.5% of respondents reported no badgers in the area), evidence of aggressive behavior (22.7% of respondents had observed non-food-related aggression between hedgehogs) and seven hedgehogs having sustained bite wounds whilst in captivity. The authors are cautious about drawing any definitive conclusions from this research, though it would appear that some of the hedgehogs in the survey had welfare comparable to their free-living counterparts.
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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 conducted a questionnaire survey of UK householders to identify factors associated with the use of ground-level nest boxes for West European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus), a species of conservation concern. Overall, the percentage of boxes used at least once varied with season and type of use: summer day nesting (35.5–81.3%), breeding (7.2–28.2%), winter day nesting (20.1–66.5%) and hibernation (21.7–58.6%). The length of time the box had been deployed, the availability of artificial food and front garden to back garden access significantly increased the likelihood that a nest box had been used for all four nesting types, whereas other factors related to placement within the garden ( e.g. , in a sheltered location, on hardstanding such as paving, distance from the house) and resource provisioning (bedding) affected only some nesting behaviours. The factors most strongly associated with nest box use were the provisioning of food and bedding. These data suggest, therefore, that householders can adopt simple practices to increase the likelihood of their nest box being used. However, one significant limitation evident within these data is that, for welfare reasons, householders do not routinely monitor whether their box has been used. Consequently, future studies need to adopt strategies which enable householders to monitor their boxes continuously. Ultimately, such studies should compare the survival rates and reproductive success of hedgehogs within artificial refuges versus more natural nest sites, and whether these are affected by, for example, the impact of nest box design and placement on predation risk and internal microclimate.
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Objectives Low genetic diversity can lead to reduced average fitness in a population or even extinction. Preserving genetic connectivity across fragmented landscapes is therefore vital to counteract the negative consequences of genetic drift and inbreeding. This study aimed to assess the genetic composition and consequently the conservation status of a nationwide sample of European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in Denmark. Methods We applied an adaptation of the genotyping by sequencing (GBS) technique to 178 individuals from six geographically distinct populations. We used a Bayesian clustering method to subdivide individuals into genetically distinct populations. We estimated individual observed (iHO), observed (HO), and unbiased expected (uHE) heterozygosity, inbreeding coefficient (FIS), percentage of polymorphic loci (P%) and tested for deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWE). We used linear models to test for potential anthropogenic effects on the genetic variability of hedgehogs with iHO, uHE, P% and FIS as response variables, and assessed the demographic history of the population. Results The Danish hedgehog population is composed of three genetic clusters. We found a mean P% of 54.44–94.71, a mean uHE of 0.126–0.318 and a mean HO of 0.124–0.293 in the six populations. The FIS was found to be significantly positive for three of the six populations. We detected a large heterogeneity of iHO values within populations, which can be due to inbreeding and/or fragmentation. FIS values decreased with increasing farmland density, but there was no significant association with human population or road density. Conclusions We found a low level of genetic variability and evidence for genetic substructure and low effective population size, which are all consequences of habitat fragmentation. We failed to detect signs of a recent population bottleneck or population increase or decline. However, because the test only identifies recent changes in population size, we cannot reject the possibility of a longer-term decline in the Danish hedgehog population.
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Objectives Low genetic diversity can lead to reduced average fitness in a population or even extinction. Preserving genetic connectivity across fragmented landscapes is therefore vital to counteract the negative consequences of genetic drift and inbreeding. This study aimed to assess the genetic composition and consequently the conservation status of a nationwide sample of European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in Denmark. Methods We applied an adaptation of the genotyping by sequencing (GBS) technique to 178 individuals from six geographically distinct populations. We used a Bayesian clustering method to subdivide individuals into genetically distinct populations. We estimated individual observed (iH O), observed (H O), and unbiased expected (uH E) heterozygosity, inbreeding coefficient (F IS), percentage of polymorphic loci (P%) and tested for deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium (HWE). We used linear models to test for potential anthropogenic effects on the genetic variability of hedgehogs with iH O , uH E, P% and F IS as response variables, and assessed the demographic history of the population. Results The Danish hedgehog population is composed of three genetic clusters. We found a mean P% of 54.44-94.71, a mean uH E of 0.126-0.318 and a mean H O of 0.124-0.293 in the six populations. The F IS was found to be significantly positive for three of the six populations. We detected a large heterogeneity of iH O values within populations, which can be due to inbreeding and/or fragmentation. F IS values decreased with increasing farmland density, but there was no significant association with human population or road density.
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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 recognizable. We investigated the use of camera traps and the Random Encounter Model (REM) for estimating the density of West European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) within a citizen science framework. We evaluated the use of a simplified version of the REM in terms of the parameters’ estimation (averaged vs. survey‐specific) and assessed its potential application as part of a large‐scale, long‐term citizen science project. We compared averaged REM estimates to those obtained via spatial capture–recapture (SCR) using data from nocturnal spotlight surveys. There was a high degree of concordance in REM‐derived density estimates from averaged parameters versus those derived from survey‐specific parameters. Averaged REM density estimates were also comparable to those produced by SCR at eight out of nine sites; hedgehog density was 7.5 times higher in urban (32.3 km−2) versus rural (4.3 km2) sites. Power analyses indicated that the averaged REM approach would be able to detect a 25% change in hedgehog density in both habitats with >90% power. Furthermore, despite the high start‐up costs associated with the REM method, it would be cost‐effective in the long term. The averaged REM approach is a promising solution to the challenge of large‐scale and long‐term species monitoring. We suggest including the REM as part of a citizen science monitoring project, where participants collect data and researchers verify and implement the required analysis. We investigate the use of camera traps and the Random Encounter Model (REM) for estimating the density of West European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) within a citizen science framework. We evaluate the use of a simplified version of the REM in terms of the parameters’ estimation and asses its potential application as part of a large‐scale, long‐term citizen science project. REM density estimates were comparable to those produced by SCR at eight out of nine sites; hedgehog density was 7.5 times higher in urban (32.3 km−2) versus rural (4.3 km2) sites. Power analysis indicate that REM would be able to detect a 25% change in hedgehog density in both habitats with >90% power, and could be implemented as part of citizen science projects.
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Co-habiting with humans in the same ecological space requires significant variation in a species’ behavioral repertoire. Behavioral variation can potentially improve the chances of survival of a species. Influence of humans can be measured by quantifying specific behavioral parameters of the interacting species. Sociability or the tendency to be friendly towards others is one of many personality traits in animals that can provide us with insights regarding their relationship with humans. Free-ranging dogs are one of the successful urban-adapted species that interact with humans regularly which, in turn, influence their behavioral properties. In this study, we tested 600 adult dogs from 60 sites across India, categorised as high (HF), low (LF), and intermediate (IF) human flux zones, to understand their degree of sociability towards an unfamiliar human. Initially, a “positive vocalisation phase” was carried out. Unresponsive dogs were further tested in a “stimulus phase”. Positive vocal sounds were used in the first phase while it was paired with food in the latter. Additionally, we surveyed a total of 1200 people from the 60 sites to understand their perception of free-ranging dogs. Dogs in the IF zones were highly sociable compared to the other zones. HF zone dogs were reluctant to approach initially, but showed an increased approach when food was provided. LF zone dogs were least sociable, and even the food reward had minimal impact on them. Our study provides the first evidence of behavioral variation in the degree of sociability of free-ranging dogs in urban environments.
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Increasing urbanization and densification are two of the largest global threats to biodiversity. However, certain species thrive in urban spaces. Hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus have been found in higher densities in green areas of settlements as compared to rural spaces. With recent studies pointing to dramatically declining hedgehog numbers in rural areas, we pose the question: how do hedgehogs fare in urban spaces, and do these spaces act as refuges? In this study, recent (2016-2018) and past (1992) hedgehog abundance and distribution were compared across the city of Zurich, Switzerland using citizen science methods, including: footprint tunnels, capture-mark recapture, and incidental sightings. Our analyses revealed consistent negative trends: Overall hedgehog distribution decreased by 17.6% ± 4.7%, whereas abundance declined by 40.6% (mean abundance 32 vs. 19 hedgehogs/km2, in past and recent time, respectively), with one study plot even showing a 91% decline in this period (78 vs. 7 hedgehogs/km2, respectively). We discuss possible causes of this rapid decline: increased urban densification, reduction of insect biomass, and pesticide use, as well as the role of increasing populations of badgers (a hedgehog predator) and parasites or diseases. Our results suggest that hedgehogs are now under increasing pressure not only in rural but also in urban areas, their former refuges.
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The European hedgehog ( Erinaceus europaeus ) is a species found in abundance throughout Europe. Nevertheless, it has seen a decline in some regions. This study aimed to analyze trends in intake and outcomes for hedgehogs admitted into rescue centers in the Czech Republic. In the period from 2010 to 2019, 16,967 European hedgehogs were admitted in 34 rescue centers in the Czech Republic. Most hedgehogs were admitted in September (25.30%) and October (22.14%), the fewest in March (0.96%). Most admitted hedgehogs were hoglets (59.49%). The treatment was successful in 44.39% of admitted hedgehogs; those were subsequently released into the wild. On average, they stayed in rescue centers for 48.77 days (median of 30 days). Death or euthanasia was an outcome for 25.27% and 3.15% of admitted hedgehogs, respectively. Only 0.59% of the hedgehogs remained in captivity with a permanent handicap. The highest release rate was achieved in hedgehogs admitted after falls into pits and other openings (83.19%), whereas the least success was achieved in poisoned hedgehogs (13.21%). An increasing trend (rSp = 0.9273, p < 0.01) was found in the number of hedgehogs admitted to rescue centers during the monitored period. Furthermore, not all of them required human care. Given the fact that less than a half of the admitted hedgehogs could be released, raising public awareness of this issue could help to avoid unnecessary interventions (especially in hoglets).
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Anthropogenic habitat fragmentation and roadkill mortality are considered important threats to European hedgehogs. Habitat fragmentation isolates hedgehog populations and, as a consequence, reduces their genetic diversity and leads the populations to vulnerable situations. The hedgehog populations in the Iberian Peninsula represent the southern limit of the species. We used microsatellite markers to estimate the genetic diversity and population structure of Erinaceus europaeus on the Iberian Peninsula. The obtained results indicated the presence of two differentiated groups, north-western and north-eastern, which coincided with the distribution of the two phylogeographic mitochondrial lineages described in the Peninsula. Moreover, in the north-eastern group, three genetically different clusters (Girona, Central Catalonia and Zoo) were identified. The highest genetic diversity ( Hs = 0.696) was detected in the north-western region. Significant genetic differentiation ( F ST range = 0.072–0.224) was found among the clusters, indicating that these groups are well differentiated and present low gene flow. We concluded that the north-western group is genetically stable, whereas in the north-eastern region, despite some contact among groups, some populations are isolated and vulnerable.
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Ecologists and evolutionary biologists have revealed that adaptive microevolution (i.e., allele frequency changes through time) and behavioral changes occur rapidly enough to affect contemporary ecological dynamics, and we can consider rapid adaptation for better conservation and management of wild populations. However, previous studies tended to focus on adaptation that increases population densities (e.g., evolutionary rescue), and did not pay attention to adaptation that decreases population densities (e.g., evolutionary suicide). Here, we demonstrate that controlling trait adaptation may be potentially important for decreasing population densities. One possibility is introducing “selfish” genotypes to populations. If the genotypes increase their reproductive success at the expense of population growth (e.g., cheaters in subsocial ants or coercive males in damselflies), we can decrease population densities (intraspecific adaptation load). The other possible option is diverting trait values of animals from the value that maximizes population growth (ecological trap). For example, we may be able to change behavior of a deer population by hunting so that they will not approach the best habitat with ample resources (landscape of fear). Then, we can consider the optimal allocation of our effort to directly decrease their population densities and control their trait values. However, we should carefully conduct controlling trait adaptation because it may result in unintended outcomes through modified genetic compositions and behaviors, such as increasing genetic variation of the focal population that enhances adaptation to changing environments by introducing selfish genotypes or a transient increase of population densities by modified behaviors. For population management to decrease population densities, we may be able to control trait adaptation through genetic manipulation or behavioral modification depending on species characteristics. We focus on two concepts, such as “intraspecific adaptation load” and “ecological trap,” and show how we can apply them to population management by using simple mathematical models.
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Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are an invasive predator implicated in the decline and extinction of many Australian native species, and are thought to thrive better in urban than in natural areas. We investigated the behaviour of foxes towards a novel object (a control device – canid pest ejector), temporal activity, and interactions with potential prey and domestic predators, by comparing behaviour among site types and to several environmental variables. We assessed the risk of using this device via visitation by domestic dogs, and in relation to distance from human habitations. We used camera-traps in 16 sites around Sydney to record temporal activity, visitation, and behaviour of our study species. Our major finding was that foxes behaved more confidently in urban areas and under high vegetation cover than in sites within peri-urban areas and low vegetation cover. Foxes appeared slightly more nocturnal in urban areas, where they have a higher temporal activity overlap with introduced mammals, than in peri-urban areas. Only two non-canid species were recorded pulling-up the ejector, confirming its high target-specificity. The ejectors could be effective in urban areas as a method of control. They could be safely deployed in sites with effective dog restrictions, regardless of the distance from human habitation.
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The world's population is concentrated in urban areas. This change in demography has brought landscape transformations that have a number of documented effects on stream ecosystems. The most consistent and pervasive effect is an increase in impervious surface cover within urban catchments, which alters the hydrology and geomorphology of streams. This results in predictable changes in stream habitat. In addition to imperviousness, runoff from urbanized surfaces as well as municipal and industrial discharges result in increased loading of nutrients, metals, pesticides, and other contaminants to streams. These changes result in consistent declines in the richness of algal, invertebrate, and fish communities in urban streams. Although understudied in urban streams, ecosystem processes are also affected by urbanization. Urban streams represent opportunities for ecologists interested in studying disturbance and contributing to more effective landscape management.
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The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is the principal vector of rabies in Western Europe, and the high density of foxes in many British cities is therefore of particular concern. Contingency plans for the control of rabies in urban areas in Britain are focused on the use of poison baits to control the fox population, but field trials have so far achieved bait uptake rates which fall far short of those required. It is possible that greater uptake rates and hence improved efficiency of control could be achieved by targeting the baits more effectively towards preferred fox habitats. To help move towards this goal, we quantified the habitat preferences of urban foxes living in Bristol, England using compositional analysis. Time spent and distance travelled by individuals within different habitats, as revealed by radio tracking, were used as indicators of habitat preference during bouts of activity, and the frequency of lying-up sites was used as an indicator of habitat preference during periods of day time inactivity. Five habitat groupings were considered in the analysis: (1) back gardens, (2) front gardens and common gardens, (3) playing fields, parklands, churchyards and cemeteries, (4) roads, verges, shops and commercial centres, and (5) woodlands, rough ground and allotment gardens. Back gardens, woodland, rough ground and allotment gardens were the most heavily used habitats in terms of both time spent and distance moved by foxes. These habitats were also most favoured for day-time lyingup sites. The results are discussed with reference to their potential implications for bait uptake and rabies control.
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Although interspecific killing among carnivores can drive populations toward extinction, it is generally unknown how these intraguild interactions vary among populations, and whether the threat for vulnerable species can be mitigated. We studied imperiled populations of swift foxes (Vulpes velox) in Canada and kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis) in Mexico to determine potential differences in survival or predator-avoidance strategies. Survival rates were significantly lower in Canada than in Mexico because of mortality caused by coyotes (Canis latrans) and golden eagles (Aquila chrysaëtos), and the potential for population recovery is likely higher for the Mexican fox population. Differences in body size between coyotes and foxes, diet, group sizes, intraspecific home-range overlap, home-range sizes of coyotes, and movements of coyotes relative to foxes were similar among study areas. However, Canadian foxes had home ranges that were approximately 3 times larger than those in Mexico, and Canadian foxes were most frequently killed on their home-range peripheries. Home ranges of kit foxes decreased in size as the availability of black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colonies increased and associated refuge holes, which foxes could use to escape predation, were significantly more abundant in Mexico than in Canada. Small home ranges of foxes probably reduced encounters with coyotes in Mexico, and a high availability of refuges likely allowed foxes to elude predators when such encounters did occur. Differences in survival of foxes relative to mortality caused by coyotes demonstrate that interactions between carnivores can vary greatly between populations and that, in some situations, vulnerable species may be able to coexist with dominant carnivores despite a lack of large-scale habitat partitioning.
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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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The world’s population is concentrated in urban areas. This change in demography has brought landscape transformations that have a number of documented effects on stream ecosystems. The most consistent and pervasive effect is an increase in impervious surface cover within urban catchments, which alters the hydrology and geomorphology of streams. This results in predictable changes in stream habitat. In addition to imperviousness, runoff from urbanized surfaces as well as municipal and industrial discharges result in increased loading of nutrients, metals, pesticides, and other contaminants to streams. These changes result in consistent declines in the richness of algal, invertebrate, and fish communities in urban streams. Although understudied in urban streams, ecosystem processes are also affected by urbanization. Urban streams represent opportunities for ecologists interested in studying disturbance and contributing to more effective landscape management.
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We compared condition of endangered San Joaquin kit foxes (Vulpes macrotis mutica) between an urban population in Bakersfield, California (BAK), and a nearby exurban population at the Naval Petroleum Reserves in California (NPRC). Our objective was to determine whether differences between urban and exurban environments, particularly food availability and disease vectors, were reflected in kit fox condition. Body mass, blood chemistry, and prevalence of viral antibodies were assessed at both sites in 1988 and 1989. Body mass was higher for BAK kit foxes, particularly juveniles, and varied between years for NPRC kit foxes. Higher red blood cell count (RBC), hemoglobin (Hb), hematocrit (Hct), mean corpuscular hemoglobin (MCH), and mean corpuscular volume (MCV) among NPRC kit foxes were indicative of hemoconcentration, probably resulting from dehydration associated with low food or water intake. Kit foxes from NPRC exhibited higher blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and lower cholesterol (CHOL) levels compared to BAK kit foxes. These results may have reflected dietary differences, but they possibly indicated tissue catabolism by NPRC kit foxes due to nutritional deprivation. Other serological data also suggested nutritional stress among NPRC kit foxes. Prevalence of antibodies to canine parvovirus (CPV), canine distemper (CD), and infectious canine hepatitus (ICH) was similar between populations. Food availability for kit foxes at NPRC was relatively low during 1988-89 due to drought conditions, but food probably was not a limiting factor at BAK due to abundant water and the presence of anthropogenic foods. Urban environments may provide certain advantages for San Joaquin kit foxes and could contribute to conservation and recovery efforts.
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Every year, millions of households provide huge quantities of supplementary food to wild birds. While alteration of the natural dynamics of food supply represents a major intervention in avian ecology, we have a remarkably limited understanding of the impacts of this widespread pastime. Here, we examine the many and varied responses of birds to supplementary feeding at backyard feeders - in large-scale management projects and in focused academic studies - and evaluate population responses to the bird-feeding phenomenon. Our review encompasses a wide range of species, from songbirds to raptors, and compares provisioning with a variety of foods, at different times of year and in different locations. We consider positive impacts, such as aiding species conservation programs, and negative ones, such as increased risk of disease transmission. It seems highly likely that natural selection is being artificially perturbed, as feeding influences almost every aspect of bird ecology, including reproduction, behavior, demography, and distribution. As the effects of bird feeding cascade through ecosystems and interact with processes of environmental change, we suggest areas for future research and highlight the need for large-scale experiments, with a particular focus on the backyards of an increasingly urban and generous, but sometimes fickle, human population.
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Slug activity was recorded at 14 sites in the UK during the autumn of 1990. The efficacy of models that predict slug activity from meteorological conditions was assessed using these data. A model using measurements of air and soil temperature from local weather stations and a gravimetric determination of soil moisture content was successful in predicting slug activity. A visual assessment of soil moisture content was developed and incorporated into an improved model to predict slug activity.