Factors affecting hedgehog presence on farmland as assessed by a questionnaire survey
The West European hedgehog, (Erinaceus europaeus, Linnaeus 1758) is widely distributed in Western Europe. However, there is evidence of decline in parts of its range. Changes in agricultural management have partly been the driving force behind the loss of species diversity and abundance, and it has been argued that these changes play a role in the decline of hedgehogs as well. We used a questionnaire to investigate the current distribution of hedgehogs on farmland throughout Great Britain with a focus on different environmental zones. Additionally, we identified environmental correlates that related to the distribution of hedgehogs with the aim to get a better understanding of what is needed to design appropriate strategies targeted at the conservation of hedgehogs. Our study illustrates that, although the impact of several variables was rather ambiguous, displaying positive effects in some environmental zones and negative effects in other, major roads and Eurasian badgers (Meles meles, Linnaeus 1758) can have large scale negative effects on hedgehogs. Farm management related factors did not show a consistent impact on hedgehog presence. Conservation strategies should therefore be aimed at lessening the impacts of major roads and badger presence. Wildlife passages, for instance, may provide hedgehogs safe passages across roads. Additionally, increasing the habitat complexity in order to reduce the impact of predators can be beneficial for prey species, such as hedgehogs, and should be considered as a conservation strategy for them.
Author(s): Hof, AR; Bright, PW
Journal: Acta Theriologica