The ecology of suburban juvenile European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in Denmark

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European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) populations are widespread across diverse habitats but are declining in Western Europe. Drastic declines have been described in the UK, with the most severe declines occurring in rural areas. Hedgehogs are widely distributed in Denmark, but their status remains unknown. Fieldwork on hedgehogs has tended to focus on rural areas, leaving their ecology in suburban habitats largely unexplored, with clear implications for conservation initiatives. Here, we study the ecology of 35 juvenile hedgehogs using radio tracking during their first year of life in the suburbs of western Copenhagen. We use radio-tracking data to estimate (a) home range sizes in autumn and spring/summer, (b) survival during their first year of life, (c) the body mass changes before, during, and after hibernation, and (d) the hibernation behavior of the juvenile hedgehogs. We show that males and females have small home ranges compared with previous studies. The 95% MCP home range sizes in autumn were 1.33 ha (95% CI = 0.88–2.00) for males and 1.40 ha (95% CI = 0.84–2.32) for females; for spring/summer they were 6.54 ha (95% CI = 3.76–11.38) for males and 1.51 ha (95% CI = 0.63–3.63) for females. The juvenile survival probabilities during the study period from September 2014 to July 2015 were.56 for females and.79 for males. All healthy individuals gained body mass during the autumn and survived hibernation with little body mass loss thus demonstrating that the juveniles in the study were capable of gaining sufficient weight in the wild to survive their first hibernation. The climate is changing, but there is a lack of knowledge on how this affects mammal ecology. The exceptionally mild autumn of 2014 caused the juvenile hedgehogs to delay hibernation for up to a month compared with previous studies in Denmark.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number23
Pages (from-to)13174-13187
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • climate change, conservation ecology, Erinaceus europaeus, European hedgehog, urban habitats, wildlife ecology

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