Impacts of removing badgers on localised counts of hedgehogs
Public Library of Science
Copyright: © 2014 Trewby et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Experimental evidence of the interactions among mammalian predators that eat or compete with one another is rare, due to the ethical and logistical challenges of managing wild populations in a controlled and replicated way. Here, we report on the opportunistic use of a replicated and controlled culling experiment (the Randomised Badger Culling Trial) to investigate the relationship between two sympatric predators: European badgers Meles meles and western European hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus. In areas of preferred habitat (amenity grassland), counts of hedgehogs more than doubled over a 5-year period from the start of badger culling (from 0.9 ha-1 pre-cull to 2.4 ha-1 post-cull), whereas hedgehog counts did not change where there was no badger culling (0.3-0.3 hedgehogs ha-1). This trial provides experimental evidence for mesopredator release as an outcome of management of a top predator.
The study was funded by the United Kingdom Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (http://www.defra.gov.uk). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
This is the final version of the article. Available from Public Library of Science via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 9 (4), article e95477
Place of publication