The effects of weather conditions on the movements and activity of badgers (Meles meles) in a suburban environment

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Abstract

This study provides quantitative data relating short-term fluctuations in local weather conditions to various measures of badger activity. These relationships were examined on a yearly, quarterly and monthly basis using behavioural data collected from 65 animals radio-tracked for a total of 518 nights in the suburbs of north-west Bristol. The yearly pattern of badger activity was reflected in a strong positive correlation between activity and daylength; in addition, moonlight and the absence of cloud cover were shown to restrict both the speed of travel and nightly range size, and to delay emergence. Looking at the data on a quarterly basis, activity increased with increasing temperature in the spring and autumn. Heavy rain reduced above-ground activity in the autumn, and in the winter speed of travel increased with wind speed. Nutritionally stressed adult females showed an increase in activity during the shorter summer nights. However, in general, changes in badger activity could not be readily predicted on the basis of the weather variables measured. The significance of these relationships is discussed in the light of the behaviour of badgers living in suburban Bristol.

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