Special Issue "Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2023 | Viewed by 78019

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Anne Berger
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department Evolutionary Ecology, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), 10315 Berlin, Germany
Interests: behavioural and evolutionary ecology; chronobiology; wildlife telemetry; reintroduction and conservation of mammals; urban ecology; stress detection in wildlife; animal welfare; wildlife detection dogs; Przewalski horses; European hedgehog; roe deer
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Nigel Reeve
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Independent Ecologist, London, UK
Interests: hedgehogs - especially behaviour and ecology, biotelemetry, wildlife ecology and conservation, urban ecology, animal welfare, citizen science
Dr. Sophie Lund Rasmussen
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), The Recanati-Kaplan Centre, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Tubney House, Abingdon Road, Tubney, Abingdon OX13 5QL, UK
Interests: hedgehog conservation; wildlife biology; biodiversity; conservation; animal communication; genetics; zoonoses
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Despite their protected status and widespread popularity, the abundance of European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) is steadily or strongly declining in several European countries, especially in rural areas.

This decline seems to be caused by a range of different factors, mainly anthropogenic, including habitat loss and fragmentation, a reduction in the availability of invertebrate prey and the use of pesticides in general, and dangers to hedgehogs living in residential gardens as well as negative interspecific influences.

To stop this decline, there is an urgent need for action, but it is essential to discover and understand the causes for the decline and investigate the effectiveness and potential for improvement of different conservation initiatives. Therefore, this Special Issue will be dedicated to studies that contribute to the development of improved protection measures for the hedgehog. We encourage the submission of manuscripts exploring topics such as:

  • Studies showing significant impacts on the behaviour and population dynamics of hedgehogs;
  • Proven and effective protection measures for hedgehogs;
  • Hedgehog rehabilitation;
  • Post-release monitoring of rehabilitated hedgehogs;
  • Reasons for the population decline and how to reduce these risks;
  • Engaging the public in conservation initiatives and the effectiveness of these programmes;
  • Methods producing reliable population density estimates;
  • Methods that improve long-term and large-scale monitoring;
  • Genetic studies of hedgehog populations.

We look forward to receiving your important contribution, as this Special Issue will be a relevant addition to the existing literature by focusing primarily on applied conservation measures for the protection of European hedgehogs.

Dr. Anne Berger
Dr. Nigel Reeve
Dr. Sophie Lund Rasmussen
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • European hedgehog
  • Erinaceus europaeus
  • wildlife conservation
  • urban ecology
  • population dynamics
  • wildlife diseases
  • population monitoring
  • genetic population structure
  • habitat fragmentation
  • habitat connectivity
  • disturbance
  • behaviour
  • biotelemetry

Published Papers (19 papers)

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Article
Differences in Mortality of Pre-Weaned and Post-Weaned Juvenile European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) at Wildlife Rehabilitation Centres in the Czech Republic
Animals 2023, 13(3), 337; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13030337 - 17 Jan 2023
Viewed by 435
Abstract
Previous research from several European countries has indicated that the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is in decline. Wildlife rehabilitation centres contribute toward the protection of debilitated hedgehogs, including the young. Based on data from 27 wildlife rehabilitation centres, the mortality rate [...] Read more.
Previous research from several European countries has indicated that the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is in decline. Wildlife rehabilitation centres contribute toward the protection of debilitated hedgehogs, including the young. Based on data from 27 wildlife rehabilitation centres, the mortality rate and the release rate of juvenile hedgehogs were evaluated depending on whether they were from normally timed litters (admitted from April to September) or from late litters (admitted from October to March). A total of 4388 juvenile European hedgehogs were admitted to wildlife rehabilitation centres in the Czech Republic from 2011 to 2020. The number of post-weaned young from late litters admitted (28%) did not differ from the number of pre-weaned young from late litters (29%). Where the outcome was known, young from late litters had the highest mortality rate (46%) in the year of admission. The release rate was the highest in post-weaned young from normally timed litters (86%). Further research should focus on the definition of optimal care and treatment of the underlying causes for admission of juvenile hedgehogs. The reproductive strategy (the timing of litters) of European hedgehogs under the climatic conditions of the Czech Republic affects the chance of survival of young at wildlife rehabilitation centres and likely also in the wild. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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Article
An Estimate of the Scale and Composition of the Hedgehog (Erinaceus europeaus) Rehabilitation Community in Britain and the Channel Islands
Animals 2022, 12(22), 3139; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12223139 - 14 Nov 2022
Viewed by 643
Abstract
The conservation benefits of wildlife rehabilitation are equivocal, but could be substantial for formerly common species that are declining rapidly but are still commonly admitted to wildlife centres. We used a questionnaire survey to estimate the number of practitioners rehabilitating West European hedgehogs [...] Read more.
The conservation benefits of wildlife rehabilitation are equivocal, but could be substantial for formerly common species that are declining rapidly but are still commonly admitted to wildlife centres. We used a questionnaire survey to estimate the number of practitioners rehabilitating West European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in Britain and the numbers entering hospitals/centres in one benchmark year (2016); practitioners were identified using an internet search and snowball sampling. Overall, 304 rehabilitators were identified: 148 supplied data on their structure, and 174 outlined the number of hedgehogs admitted in 2016. The former comprised 62.6% small (≤50 hedgehogs admitted year−1), 16.7% medium-sized (51–250 yr−1), and 20.7% large (>250 yr−1) hospitals; however, these accounted for 4.8%, 12.4%, and 82.8% of hedgehog admissions, respectively. Small hospitals were less likely to be registered as a charity, have paid staff, have a social media account, to record admissions electronically, or to conduct post-release monitoring. However, they were more likely to operate from their home address and to have been established for ≤5 years. Extrapolations indicate that this rehabilitation community admitted >40,000 hedgehogs in 2016, of which approximately 50% could have been released. These figures suggest that wildlife rehabilitation has potentially been an important factor in the dynamics of hedgehog populations in Britain in the last two decades. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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Article
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 - 21 Apr 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 17354
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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Article
Unexpected Gene-Flow in Urban Environments: The Example of the European Hedgehog
Animals 2020, 10(12), 2315; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10122315 - 07 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2771
Abstract
We use the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), a mammal with limited mobility, as a model species to study whether the structural matrix of the urban environment has an influence on population genetic structure of such species in the city of Berlin [...] Read more.
We use the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), a mammal with limited mobility, as a model species to study whether the structural matrix of the urban environment has an influence on population genetic structure of such species in the city of Berlin (Germany). Using ten established microsatellite loci we genotyped 143 hedgehogs from numerous sites throughout Berlin. Inclusion of all individuals in the cluster analysis yielded three genetic clusters, likely reflecting spatial associations of kin (larger family groups, known as gamodemes). To examine the potential bias in the cluster analysis caused by closely related individuals, we determined all pairwise relationships and excluded close relatives before repeating the cluster analysis. For this data subset (N = 65) both clustering algorithms applied (Structure, Baps) indicated the presence of a single genetic cluster. These results suggest that the high proportion of green patches in the city of Berlin provides numerous steppingstone habitats potentially linking local subpopulations. Alternatively, translocation of individuals across the city by hedgehog rescue facilities may also explain the existence of only a single cluster. We therefore propose that information about management activities such as releases by animal rescue centres should include location data (as exactly as possible) regarding both the collection and the release site, which can then be used in population genetic studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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Article
Urban Hedgehog Behavioural Responses to Temporary Habitat Disturbance versus Permanent Fragmentation
Animals 2020, 10(11), 2109; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10112109 - 13 Nov 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2818
Abstract
Anthropogenic activities can result in both transient and permanent changes in the environment. We studied spatial and temporal behavioural responses of European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) to a transient (open-air music festival) and a permanent (highly fragmented area) disturbance in the city [...] Read more.
Anthropogenic activities can result in both transient and permanent changes in the environment. We studied spatial and temporal behavioural responses of European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) to a transient (open-air music festival) and a permanent (highly fragmented area) disturbance in the city of Berlin, Germany. Activity, foraging and movement patterns were observed in two distinct areas in 2016 and 2017 using a “Before & After“ and “Control & Impact“ study design. Confronted with a music festival, hedgehogs substantially changed their movement behaviour and nesting patterns and decreased the rhythmic synchronization (DFC) of their activity patterns with the environment. These findings suggest that a music festival is a substantial stressor influencing the trade-off between foraging and risk avoidance. Hedgehogs in a highly fragmented area used larger home ranges and moved faster than in low-fragmented and low-disturbed areas. They also showed behaviours and high DFCs similar to individuals in low-fragmented, low disturbed environment, suggesting that fragmentation posed a moderate challenge which they could accommodate. The acute but transient disturbance of a music festival, therefore, had more substantial and severe behavioural effects than the permanent disturbance through fragmentation. Our results are relevant for the welfare and conservation measure of urban wildlife and highlight the importance of allowing wildlife to avoid urban music festivals by facilitating avoidance behaviours. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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Article
3D Geometric Morphometrics Reveals Convergent Character Displacement in the Central European Contact Zone between Two Species of Hedgehogs (Genus Erinaceus)
Animals 2020, 10(10), 1803; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101803 - 04 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1967
Abstract
Hedgehogs, as medium-sized plantigrade insectivores with low basal metabolic rates and related defensive anti-predator strategies, are quite sensitive to temperature and ecosystem productivity. Their ranges therefore changed dramatically due to Pleistocene climate oscillations, resulting in allopatric speciation and the subsequent formation of secondary [...] Read more.
Hedgehogs, as medium-sized plantigrade insectivores with low basal metabolic rates and related defensive anti-predator strategies, are quite sensitive to temperature and ecosystem productivity. Their ranges therefore changed dramatically due to Pleistocene climate oscillations, resulting in allopatric speciation and the subsequent formation of secondary contact zones. Such interactions between closely related species are known to generate strong evolutionary forces responsible for niche differentiation. In this connection, here, we detail the results of research on the phenotypic evolution in the two species of hedgehog present in central Europe, as based on genetics and geometric morphometrics in samples along a longitudinal transect that includes the contact zone between the species. While in allopatry, Erinaceus europaeus is found to have a larger skull than E. roumanicus and distinct cranial and mandibular shapes; the members of the two species in sympatry are smaller and more similar to each other, with a convergent shape of the mandible. The relevant data fail to reveal any major role for either hybridisation or clinal variation. We, therefore, hypothesise that competitive pressure exerted on the studied species does not generate divergent selection sufficient for divergent character displacement to evolve, instead giving rise to convergent selection in the face of resource limitation in the direction of smaller skull size. Considering the multi-factorial constraints present in the relevant adaptive landscape, reduction in size could also be facilitated by predator pressure in ecosystems characterised by mesopredator release and other anthropogenic factors. As the function of the animals’ lower jaw is mainly connected with feeding (in contrast to the cranium whose functions are obviously more complex), we interpret the similarity in shape as reflecting local adaptations to overlapping dietary resources in the two species and hence as convergent character displacement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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Article
Decline in Distribution and Abundance: Urban Hedgehogs under Pressure
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1606; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091606 - 09 Sep 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 5307
Abstract
Increasing urbanization and densification are two of the largest global threats to biodiversity. However, certain species thrive in urban spaces. Hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus have been found in higher densities in green areas of settlements as compared to rural spaces. With recent studies pointing [...] Read more.
Increasing urbanization and densification are two of the largest global threats to biodiversity. However, certain species thrive in urban spaces. Hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus have been found in higher densities in green areas of settlements as compared to rural spaces. With recent studies pointing to dramatically declining hedgehog numbers in rural areas, we pose the question: how do hedgehogs fare in urban spaces, and do these spaces act as refuges? In this study, recent (2016–2018) and past (1992) hedgehog abundance and distribution were compared across the city of Zurich, Switzerland using citizen science methods, including: footprint tunnels, capture-mark recapture, and incidental sightings. Our analyses revealed consistent negative trends: Overall hedgehog distribution decreased by 17.6% ± 4.7%, whereas abundance declined by 40.6% (mean abundance 32 vs. 19 hedgehogs/km2, in past and recent time, respectively), with one study plot even showing a 91% decline in this period (78 vs. 7 hedgehogs/km2, respectively). We discuss possible causes of this rapid decline: increased urban densification, reduction of insect biomass, and pesticide use, as well as the role of increasing populations of badgers (a hedgehog predator) and parasites or diseases. Our results suggest that hedgehogs are now under increasing pressure not only in rural but also in urban areas, their former refuges. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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Article
Evaluating the Impact of Wildlife Shelter Management on the Genetic Diversity of Erinaceus europaeus and E. roumanicus in Their Contact Zone
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1452; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091452 - 20 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2105
Abstract
Hedgehogs are among the most abundant species to be found within wildlife shelters and after successful rehabilitation they are frequently translocated. The effects and potential impact of these translocations on gene flow within wild populations are largely unknown. In this study, different wild [...] Read more.
Hedgehogs are among the most abundant species to be found within wildlife shelters and after successful rehabilitation they are frequently translocated. The effects and potential impact of these translocations on gene flow within wild populations are largely unknown. In this study, different wild hedgehog populations were compared with artificially created “shelter populations”, with regard to their genetic diversity, in order to establish basic data for future inferences on the genetic impact of hedgehog translocations. Observed populations are located within central Europe, including the species Erinaceus europaeus and E. roumanicus. Shelters were mainly hosting one species; in one case, both species were present syntopically. Apart from one exception, the results did not show a higher genetic diversity within shelter populations, indicating that individuals did not originate from a wider geographical area than individuals grouped into one of the wild populations. Two shelters from Innsbruck hosted individuals that belonged to two potential clusters, as indicated in a distance analysis. When such a structure stems from the effects of landscape elements like large rivers, the shelter management-related translocations might lead to homogenization across the dispersal barrier. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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Article
Over-Winter Survival and Nest Site Selection of the West-European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) in Arable Dominated Landscapes
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1449; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091449 - 19 Aug 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 4620
Abstract
The West-European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) has declined markedly in the UK. The winter hibernation period may make hedgehogs vulnerable to anthropogenic habitat and climate changes. Therefore, we studied two contrasting populations in England to examine patterns of winter nest use, body [...] Read more.
The West-European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) has declined markedly in the UK. The winter hibernation period may make hedgehogs vulnerable to anthropogenic habitat and climate changes. Therefore, we studied two contrasting populations in England to examine patterns of winter nest use, body mass changes and survival during hibernation. No between-site differences were evident in body mass prior to hibernation nor the number of winter nests used, but significant differences in overwinter mass change and survival were observed. Mass change did not, however, affect survival rates; all deaths occurred prior to or after the hibernation period, mainly from predation or vehicle collisions. Hedgehogs consistently nested in proximity to hedgerows, roads and woodlands, but avoided pasture fields; differences between sites were evident for the selection for or avoidance of arable fields, amenity grassland and buildings. Collectively, these data indicate that hibernation was not a period of significant mortality for individuals that had attained sufficient weight (>600 g) pre-hibernation. Conversely, habitat composition did significantly affect the positioning of winter nests, such that different land management practices (historic and current) might potentially influence hibernation success. The limitations of this study and suggestions for future research are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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Article
DNA Footprints: Using Parasites to Detect Elusive Animals, Proof of Principle in Hedgehogs
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1420; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081420 - 14 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3136
Abstract
The Western European Hedgehog (Erinaceous europaeus) is a nocturnal animal that is in decline in much of Europe, but the monitoring of this species is subjective, prone to error, and an inadequate basis for estimating population trends. Here, we report the [...] Read more.
The Western European Hedgehog (Erinaceous europaeus) is a nocturnal animal that is in decline in much of Europe, but the monitoring of this species is subjective, prone to error, and an inadequate basis for estimating population trends. Here, we report the use of Crenosoma striatum, a parasitic nematode specific to hedgehogs as definitive hosts, to detect hedgehog presence in the natural environment. This is achieved through collecting and sampling the parasites within their intermediate hosts, gastropoda, a group much simpler to locate and sample in both urban and rural habitats. C. striatum and Crenosoma vulpis were collected post-mortem from the lungs of hedgehogs and foxes, respectively. Slugs were collected in two sessions, during spring and autumn, from Skomer Island (n = 21), which is known to be free of hedgehogs (and foxes); and Pennard, Swansea (n = 42), known to have a healthy hedgehog population. The second internal transcribed spacer of parasite ribosomal DNA was used to develop a highly specific, novel, PCR based multiplex assay. Crenosoma striatum was found only at the site known to be inhabited by hedgehogs, at an average prevalence in gastropods of 10% in spring and autumn. The molecular test was highly specific: One mollusc was positive for both C. striatum and C. vulpis, and differentiation between the two nematode species was clear. This study demonstrates proof of principle for using detection of specific parasite DNA in easily sampled intermediate hosts to confirm the presence of an elusive nocturnal definitive host species. The approach has great potential as an adaptable, objective tool to supplement and support existing ecological survey methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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Article
Hibernation Patterns of the European Hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, at a Cornish Rescue Centre
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1418; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081418 - 14 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3925
Abstract
The European hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, is frequently admitted to rescue centres in the UK. With many overwintering in captivity, there is cause to investigate hibernation patterns in order to inform and improve husbandry and monitoring protocols. Thirty-five hedgehogs were studied over two [...] Read more.
The European hedgehog, Erinaceus europaeus, is frequently admitted to rescue centres in the UK. With many overwintering in captivity, there is cause to investigate hibernation patterns in order to inform and improve husbandry and monitoring protocols. Thirty-five hedgehogs were studied over two winters. Weight change during hibernation for the first winter was used to test for effects of disturbance on different aspects of hibernation, including total duration, frequency and duration of spontaneous arousals. There was no significant difference between the two winters for any of the four aspects studied. Significant positive correlations demonstrated that weight-loss increased with the duration of the hibernation period and with percent of nights spent asleep, but not with the number of arousal events. Thus, weight-loss appears more strongly associated with the proportion of time spent asleep than with the number of arousal events. This was surprising given the assumed energetic expense of repeated arousal and was potentially due to availability of food during arousals. In contrast with previous studies, larger hedgehogs lost less weight per day than did smaller hedgehogs. They also woke up more often (i.e., had more opportunities to feed), which may explain the unexpected pattern of weight-loss. Hibernatory behaviour in captivity differs from that in the wild, likely because of non-natural conditions in hutches and the immediate availability of food. This study provides a basis for further research into the monitoring and husbandry of hedgehogs such that it can be adapted for each individual according to pre-hibernation weight and behaviour during hibernation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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Article
Patterns of Feeding by Householders Affect Activity of Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) during the Hibernation Period
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1344; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081344 - 04 Aug 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3984
Abstract
West European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) are likely to encounter unusual ecological features in urban habitats, such as anthropogenic food sources and artificial refugia. Quantifying how these affect hedgehog behaviour is vital for informing conservation guidelines for householders. We monitored hedgehog presence/absence [...] Read more.
West European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) are likely to encounter unusual ecological features in urban habitats, such as anthropogenic food sources and artificial refugia. Quantifying how these affect hedgehog behaviour is vital for informing conservation guidelines for householders. We monitored hedgehog presence/absence in gardens in the town of Reading, UK, over the winter of 2017–2018 using a volunteer-based footprint tunnel survey, and collected data on garden characteristics, supplementary feeding (SF) habits, and local environmental conditions. Over a 20-week survey period, hedgehog presence was lowest between January and March. Occupancy analysis indicated that SF significantly affected hedgehog presence/absence before, during, and after hibernation. The number of nesting opportunities available in gardens, average temperatures, and daylength were also supported as important factors at different stages. In particular, our results suggest that SF could act to increase levels of activity during the winter when hedgehogs should be hibernating. Stimulating increased activity at this sensitive time could push hedgehogs into a net energy deficit or, conversely, help some individuals survive which might not otherwise do so. Therefore, further research is necessary to determine whether patterns of feeding by householders have a positive or negative effect on hedgehog populations during the hibernation period. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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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)
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1306; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081306 - 30 Jul 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3298
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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Article
Outcomes, Mortality Causes, and Pathological Findings in European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europeus, Linnaeus 1758): A Seventeen Year Retrospective Analysis in the North of Portugal
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1305; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081305 - 30 Jul 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2296
Abstract
This study aimed to analyze the admission causes, outcomes, primary causes of death, and main lesions observed in the post mortem examinations of Western European hedgehogs, Erinaceus europaeus (Linnaeus, 1758), in the north of Portugal. The data were obtained by consulting the records [...] Read more.
This study aimed to analyze the admission causes, outcomes, primary causes of death, and main lesions observed in the post mortem examinations of Western European hedgehogs, Erinaceus europaeus (Linnaeus, 1758), in the north of Portugal. The data were obtained by consulting the records from the two main wildlife rehabilitation centers located in the north of Portugal (Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre of Parque Biologico de Gaia and the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre of the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro). Over 17 years (2002–2019) a total of 740 animals were admitted. Most of the animals were juveniles, with the highest number of admissions occurring during summer (36.8%) and spring (33.2%). The main reasons for admission were debilitation (30.7%) and random finds (28.4%). Of the total number of individuals admitted to these centers, 66.6% were successfully released back into the wild. The most relevant causes of death were trauma of unknown origin (32.7%), nontrauma causes of unknown origin (26.6%), and nutritional disorders (20.2%). The main lesions observed were related to trauma, including skeletal and skin lesions (fractures, hemorrhages, wounds) and organ damage, particularly to the lungs and liver. The hedgehog is a highly resilient and adaptable animal. The urban environment has many benefits for hedgehogs, yet the presence of humans can be harmful. In the future, the public needs to become even more involved in the activities of the wildlife centres, which will make a positive difference for these populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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Article
Characteristics and Demography of a Free-Ranging Ethiopian Hedgehog, Paraechinus aethiopicus, Population in Qatar
Animals 2020, 10(6), 951; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10060951 - 30 May 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2189
Abstract
Information on population characteristics of Paraechinusis is valuable for ensuring long term survival of populations, however, studies are currently lacking. Here we investigate the population dynamics of Ethiopian hedgehogs based on a capture-mark-recapture study in Qatar by fitting Jolly-Seber and Cormack-Jolly-Seber models. Over [...] Read more.
Information on population characteristics of Paraechinusis is valuable for ensuring long term survival of populations, however, studies are currently lacking. Here we investigate the population dynamics of Ethiopian hedgehogs based on a capture-mark-recapture study in Qatar by fitting Jolly-Seber and Cormack-Jolly-Seber models. Over the 19 months of the study, we estimate a mean population of 60 hedgehogs, giving a density of 7 hedgehogs per km2 in our 8.5 km2 search area. The monthly abundance of hedgehogs decreased over the study and although survival was constant over the study period, with a mean monthly rate of 75%, there was a decline in the number of new entrants over time. We also studied these parameters over one year, excluding winter, and found that monthly estimates of juvenile and subadult survival decreased over time. We surmise that survival of juveniles may be a factor in the decrease in abundance and there may be implications for the persistence of this population, with anthropogenic influenced resources playing an important role. We caught between 91.3% and 100% of the estimated population at this site, indicating that our capture methodology was efficient. We conclude that the methodology used here is transferrable to other hedgehog species. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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Article
Effects of Artificial Light at Night (ALAN) on European Hedgehog Activity at Supplementary Feeding Stations
Animals 2020, 10(5), 768; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10050768 - 28 Apr 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 4717
Abstract
Artificial light at night (ALAN) can have negative consequences for a wide range of taxa. However, the effects on nocturnal mammals other than bats are poorly understood. A citizen science camera trapping experiment was therefore used to assess the effect of ALAN on [...] Read more.
Artificial light at night (ALAN) can have negative consequences for a wide range of taxa. However, the effects on nocturnal mammals other than bats are poorly understood. A citizen science camera trapping experiment was therefore used to assess the effect of ALAN on the activity of European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) at supplementary feeding stations in UK gardens. A crossover design was implemented at 33 gardens with two treatments—artificial light and darkness—each of which lasted for one week. The order of treatment depended on the existing lighting regime at the feeding station: dark treatments were applied first at dark feeding stations, whereas light treatments were used first where the station was already illuminated. Although temporal changes in activity patterns in response to the treatments were noted in some individuals, the direction of the effects was not consistent. Similarly, there was no overall impact of ALAN on the presence or feeding activities of hedgehogs in gardens where supplementary feeding stations were present. These findings are somewhat reassuring insofar as they demonstrate no net negative effect on a species thought to be in decline, in scenarios where the animals are already habituated to supplementary feeding. However, further research is needed to examine long-term effects and the effects of lighting on hedgehog prey, reproductive success and predation risk. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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Article
Investigating the Role of the Eurasian Badger (Meles meles) in the Nationwide Distribution of the Western European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) in England
Animals 2019, 9(10), 759; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100759 - 02 Oct 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 4075
Abstract
Biodiversity is declining globally, which calls for effective conservation measures. It is, therefore, important to investigate the drivers behind species presence at large spatial scales. The Western European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is one of the species facing declines in parts of [...] Read more.
Biodiversity is declining globally, which calls for effective conservation measures. It is, therefore, important to investigate the drivers behind species presence at large spatial scales. The Western European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is one of the species facing declines in parts of its range. Yet, drivers of Western European hedgehog distribution at large spatial scales remain largely unknown. At local scales, the Eurasian badger (Meles meles), an intraguild predator of the Western European hedgehog, can affect both the abundance and the distribution of the latter. However, the Western European hedgehog and the Eurasian badger have shown to be able to co-exist at a landscape scale. We investigated whether the Eurasian badger may play a role in the likelihood of the presence of the Western European hedgehog throughout England by using two nationwide citizen science surveys. Although habitat-related factors explained more variation in the likelihood of Western European hedgehog presence, our results suggest that Eurasian badger presence negatively impacts the likelihood of Western European hedgehog presence. Intraguild predation may, therefore, be influencing the nationwide distribution of hedgehogs in England, and further research is needed about how changes in badger densities and intensifying agricultural practices that remove shelters like hedgerows may influence hedgehog presence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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Review

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Review
Impacts and Potential Mitigation of Road Mortality for Hedgehogs in Europe
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1523; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091523 - 28 Aug 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 5813
Abstract
Transport infrastructure is a pervasive element in modern landscapes and continues to expand to meet the demands of a growing human population and its associated resource consumption. Road-induced mortality is often thought to be a major contributor to the marked declines of European [...] Read more.
Transport infrastructure is a pervasive element in modern landscapes and continues to expand to meet the demands of a growing human population and its associated resource consumption. Road-induced mortality is often thought to be a major contributor to the marked declines of European hedgehog populations. This review synthesizes available evidence on the population-level impacts of road mortality and the threat to population viability for the five hedgehog species in Europe. Local and national studies suggest that road mortality can cause significant depletions in population sizes, predominantly removing adult males. Traffic collisions are a probable cause of fragmentation effects, subsequently undermining ecological processes such as dispersal, as well as the genetic variance and fitness of isolated populations. Further studies are necessary to improve population estimates and explicitly examine the consequences of sex- and age-specific mortality rates. Hedgehogs have been reported to use crossing structures, such as road tunnels, yet evaluations of mitigation measures for population survival probability are largely absent. This highlights the need for robust studies that consider population dynamics and genetics in response to mitigation. In light of ongoing declines of hedgehog populations, it is paramount that applied research is prioritised and integrated into a holistic spatial planning process. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)

Other

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Commentary
Beneficial Land Management for Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in the United Kingdom
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1566; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091566 - 03 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3661
Abstract
Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) are traditionally thought of as being a rural dwelling species, associated with rural and agricultural landscapes across Europe. However, recent studies have highlighted that hedgehogs are more likely to be found in urban than rural habitats in the [...] Read more.
Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) are traditionally thought of as being a rural dwelling species, associated with rural and agricultural landscapes across Europe. However, recent studies have highlighted that hedgehogs are more likely to be found in urban than rural habitats in the United Kingdom. Here, we review the status of rural hedgehog populations across the UK and evaluate the potential benefits of agri-environment schemes for hedgehog persistence, while highlighting a lack of empirical evidence that agri-environment options will benefit hedgehog populations. Our synthesis has implications for future conservation strategies for hedgehogs and insectivorous mammals living in agricultural landscapes, and calls for more empirical studies on agri-environment options and their potential benefits to hedgehogs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research)
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