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Keywords:

  • badger;
  • territoriality;
  • spatial ecology;
  • habitat effects;
  • badger surveys

Abstract

This study investigates how habitat variation affects sett density, the number of animals per social group and group territory size in the badger (Meles meles). Identical methods were applied in three habitat types: lowland parkland with mixed woodland, pastoral farmland and upland rough pasture with moorland, representing areas of presumed good, medium and poor badger habitat, respectively. Contiguous main setts were identified and bait-marking was used to estimate territory size. Group size was estimated by direct enumeration. Variation in sett density, group size and territory size supported the hypothesis that badger group and territory size are influenced by habitat type. This was further supported by analyses of data from other studies in the British Isles. The implications for badger spatial ecology, badger survey techniques and the badger's role in the epidemiology of TB are discussed.