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Socio-spatial organization of Eurasian badgers in low-density population in central Europe

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Canadian Journal of Zoology, Volume 85, Number 9, 1 September 2007, pp. 973-984(12)


Do Linh San, EmmanuelFerrari, NicolaWeber, Jean-Marc


We studied the socio-spatial organization of Eurasian badgers (or European badgers), Meles meles (L., 1758), in a low-density population (estimate 1.8 badgers/km2) inhabiting a semi-rural area of western Switzerland. For this purpose, 8 badgers (5 males and 3 females) were caught at 5 different main setts and were radio-tracked between May 1994 and November 1996. The size of individual home ranges varied from 0.27 to 3.74km2 (1.69± 1.33km2 (mean± SD), n = 8, 100% MCP), seemingly according to local variations in habitat productivity. Individual home ranges were spatially stable, but their size decreased significantly during winter (0.26± 0.42km2, n = 7, 100% MCP). Badger social units consisted of 1–5 adults and (or) subadults (2.2± 1.5 animals, n = 9) and their yearly offspring. Group-range size varied from 0.57 to 3.74km2 (2.12± 1.30km2, n = 4) and seemed to be influenced by the spatial distribution pattern of food resources. Indeed, each group range encompassed approximately the same surface of agricultural land (about 0.60km2). Territories were not well marked, some group ranges partly overlapped. Latrines, which were not numerous and principally located inside rather than along borders of group ranges, were only used irregularly or sporadically. This prompts us to encourage the reconsideration of the role of territorial behaviour in promoting group formation in Eurasian badgers.



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