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Article

Moving in the Dark—Evidence for an Influence of Artificial Light at Night on the Movement Behaviour of European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus)

1
Department of Evolutionary Ecology, Leibniz-Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Alfred-Kowalke-Straße 17, 10315 Berlin, Germany
2
Institut für Ökologie, Technische Universität Berlin, Rothenburgstraße 12, 12165 Berlin, Germany
3
Department of Animal Behaviour, Bielefeld University, Konsequenz 45, 33615 Bielefeld, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1306; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081306
Received: 3 July 2020 / Revised: 27 July 2020 / Accepted: 27 July 2020 / Published: 30 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
The European hedgehog is one of the most popular and well-known wild animals, but its numbers are declining throughout Europe, especially in rural areas. Effective hedgehog conservation requires an understanding of the hedgehog’s ability to adapt to a changing environment. Due to globally increasing urbanisation, the use of artificial light sources to illuminate the night, called light pollution, has spread dramatically. Light pollution significantly affects the behaviour and ecology of wildlife, but the hedgehog’s behaviour towards light pollution remains unknown. We therefore investigated the effects of light pollution on the natural movement behaviour of hedgehogs living in an urban environment. Although hedgehogs can react very variably to environmental influences, the majority of hedgehogs studied here preferred to move in less illuminated rather than in strongly illuminated areas. This apparently rigid behaviour could be used in applied hedgehog conservation to connect isolated hedgehog populations or to safely guide the animals around places dangerous for them via dark corridors that are attractive for hedgehogs.
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: hedgehogs; Erinaceus europaeus; light pollution; ALAN; GPS; acceleration; activity; movement behaviour; urbanisation; conservation hedgehogs; Erinaceus europaeus; light pollution; ALAN; GPS; acceleration; activity; movement behaviour; urbanisation; conservation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Berger, A.; Lozano, B.; Barthel, L.M.F.; Schubert, N. Moving in the Dark—Evidence for an Influence of Artificial Light at Night on the Movement Behaviour of European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus). Animals 2020, 10, 1306. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081306

AMA Style

Berger A, Lozano B, Barthel LMF, Schubert N. Moving in the Dark—Evidence for an Influence of Artificial Light at Night on the Movement Behaviour of European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus). Animals. 2020; 10(8):1306. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081306

Chicago/Turabian Style

Berger, Anne, Briseida Lozano, Leon M.F. Barthel, and Nadine Schubert. 2020. "Moving in the Dark—Evidence for an Influence of Artificial Light at Night on the Movement Behaviour of European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus)" Animals 10, no. 8: 1306. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081306

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