Habitat selection, philopatry and spatial segregation in rural Irish hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus)

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Haigh, Amy
O'Riordan, Ruth M.
Butler, Fidelma
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Walter de Gruyter GmbH
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As a non-territorial species with no known dispersal period, there are no obvious factors that regulate hedgehog numbers in an area. This study aimed to examine these factors and involved the radio-tracking of rural hedgehogs over a 3-year period. Males had a significantly larger mean annual home range (56 ha) than females (16.5 ha), which was at its maximum during the breeding season. Outside of the breeding season, the home range was relatively small (4-5 ha) in both sexes. The home ranges of males completely overlapped both each other and all of the females. In contrast, females occupied more exclusive areas with little overlap between one another. On a nightly basis, both sexes occupied spatially independent areas with little overlap. Compositional analysis of the data showed that habitats were not used in proportion to their availability but were selected, and this changed seasonally, with the highest preference being for garden and arable land. Hedgehogs tagged for consecutive years exhibited site philopatry and followed the same pattern of habitat selection annually. It is suggested that the spatial separation observed amongst individual hedgehogs could restrict numbers in an area and that female numbers reach a carrying capacity before that of males.
Carrying capacity , Habitat selection , Home range , Sex differences , Spatial separation
Haigh, A., O'Riordan, R. M. and Butler, F. (2013) "Habitat selection, philopatry and spatial segregation in rural Irish hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus)", Mammalia, 77(2), pp. 163-172. doi: 10.1515/mammalia-2012-0094
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