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Wildlife Conservation at a Garden Level: The Effect of Robotic Lawn Mowers on European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus)

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Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, The Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Tubney House, Abingdon Road, Tubney, Abingdon OX13 5QL, UK
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Department of Chemistry and Bioscience, Aalborg University, Fredrik Bajers Vej 7H, DK-9220 Aalborg, Denmark
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Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark
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Fossil and Moclay Museum, Museum Mors, Skarrehagevej 8, DK-7900 Nykøbing Mors, Denmark
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Agilent Technologies Denmark ApS, Produktionsvej 42, DK-2600 Glostrup, Denmark
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Krishna N. Balasubramaniam and Stefano S.K. Kaburu
Animals 2021, 11(5), 1191; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051191
Received: 5 March 2021 / Revised: 11 April 2021 / Accepted: 16 April 2021 / Published: 21 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Impact on Wildlife Behavioural Ecology and Health)
Injured European hedgehogs are frequently admitted to hedgehog rehabilitation centres with different types of cuts and injuries. Although not rigorously quantified, a growing concern is that an increasing number of cases may have been caused by robotic lawn mowers. Research indicates that European hedgehogs are in decline. It is therefore important to identify and investigate the factors responsible for this decline to improve the conservation initiatives directed at this species. Because hedgehogs are increasingly associated with human habitation, it seems likely that numerous individuals will encounter several robotic lawn mowers during their lifetimes. Consequently, this study aimed to describe and quantify the effects of robotic lawn mowers on hedgehogs, and we tested 18 robotic lawn mowers in collision with dead hedgehogs. Some models caused extensive damage to the dead hedgehogs, but there were noteworthy differences in the degree of harm inflicted, with some consistently causing no damage. None of the robotic lawn mowers tested was able to detect the presence of dead, dependent juvenile hedgehogs, and no models could detect the hedgehog cadavers without physical interaction. We therefore encourage future collaboration with the manufacturers of robotic lawn mowers to improve the safety for hedgehogs and other garden wildlife species.
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal behaviour; applied conservation biology; Erinaceus europaeus; human–wildlife conflicts; robotic lawn mowers; wildlife conservation animal behaviour; applied conservation biology; Erinaceus europaeus; human–wildlife conflicts; robotic lawn mowers; wildlife conservation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Rasmussen, S.L.; Schrøder, A.E.; Mathiesen, R.; Nielsen, J.L.; Pertoldi, C.; Macdonald, D.W. Wildlife Conservation at a Garden Level: The Effect of Robotic Lawn Mowers on European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus). Animals 2021, 11, 1191. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051191

AMA Style

Rasmussen SL, Schrøder AE, Mathiesen R, Nielsen JL, Pertoldi C, Macdonald DW. Wildlife Conservation at a Garden Level: The Effect of Robotic Lawn Mowers on European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus). Animals. 2021; 11(5):1191. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051191

Chicago/Turabian Style

Rasmussen, Sophie L., Ane E. Schrøder, Ronja Mathiesen, Jeppe L. Nielsen, Cino Pertoldi, and David W. Macdonald. 2021. "Wildlife Conservation at a Garden Level: The Effect of Robotic Lawn Mowers on European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus)" Animals 11, no. 5: 1191. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051191

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