Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Estimating population size of rural and urban hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) using camera trapping and citizen science without the need for individual recognition. (#248)

Antonio Uzal 1 , Richard W Yarnell 1 , Jessica Schaus-Calderon 1
  1. Nottingham Trent University, Southwell, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

The European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is considered common and abundant throughout its European wide range and therefore considered globally to be of Least Concern. However, in several west European countries its distribution and populations appear to have declined markedly since the 1950s. Current methods used to monitor hedgehog populations are associated with factors which either limit their use for long-term monitoring and not all can be applied easily in all habitats, or are unable to yield population density estimates. This study aims to (1) assess the suitability of the Random Encounter Model (REM), a method that has been previously used to estimate population densities of species without natural markings; and (2) validate the REM results by comparing them to capture-mark-recapture. The study took place in 2016 in one rural and three urban locations across England, where 120 cameras were deployed following a randomised sampling design. In urban areas the cameras were located in private gardens with a very positive citizen involvement.  2016 results indicated REM was suitable for estimating population density of hedgehogs, providing a technique with clear animal welfare advantages. REM was time-consuming, as animal and camera parameters needed to be obtained specifically to each study are to avoid unbiased estimates. In 2017 another rural and two/three urban areas will be surveyed to further standardise the required parameters and improve the time required by researchers to implement the method, allowing the application of the REM to monitor long-term population changes.