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Fine-scale habitat selection of a small mammalian urban adapter: the West European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)

Gazzard, A. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0604-7160, Yarnell, R. W. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6584-7374 and Baker, P. J. (2022) Fine-scale habitat selection of a small mammalian urban adapter: the West European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus). Mammalian Biology. ISSN 1618-1476

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s42991-022-00251-5

Abstract/Summary

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.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
ID Code:104749
Publisher:Springer

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