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27.08.2018 | Ausgabe 6/2018 Open Access

Urban Ecosystems 6/2018

A prickly problem: developing a volunteer-friendly tool for monitoring populations of a terrestrial urban mammal, the West European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)

Zeitschrift:
Urban Ecosystems > Ausgabe 6/2018
Autoren:
Ben Williams, Nittanjyot Mann, Jessica L. Neumann, Richard W. Yarnell, Philip J. Baker

Abstract

Across Europe, hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) appear to be in decline in both urban and rural landscapes. Current methods used to monitor urban populations are, however, associated with several potential limitations. In this study, we conducted hedgehog footprint-tunnel surveys in 219 residential gardens across Reading, UK between May–September in 2013 and/or 2014; gardens were surveyed for five continuous days. Single-species occupancy models were used to investigate factors influencing hedgehog occupancy and two-species occupancy models were used to estimate a species interaction factor (SIF) between hedgehogs and (a) badgers (Meles meles), (b) foxes (Vulpes vulpes) and (c) dogs (Canis familiaris). The five-day survey protocol was associated with a false-absence error rate of 0.1–0.4%, indicating that it was a reliable method for determining hedgehog presence; conversely, 34.7% of householders were not able to correctly predict hedgehog presence or absence. Hedgehogs were widely distributed across Reading, but detected in only 32–40% of gardens. None of the within-garden or outside-garden factors investigated significantly affected hedgehog occupancy in the single-species models, but the two-species models indicated that badgers (SIF = 0.471 ± 0.188), but not foxes (SIF = 0.954 ± 0.048) or dogs (SIF = 0.780 ± 0.228), negatively affected the presence of hedgehogs in gardens, although not significantly. Overall, footprint-tunnels represent a viable field method for monitoring urban hedgehog populations, however, other approaches are required to identify factors that make gardens “hedgehog friendly”.

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