Research Ideas 11 to 15
Here are some research or discussion ideas for further study.
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11. Targeting for TB reduction
Research has shown that most mammals with
tuberculosis vary in their level of infectivity. The animals are not very
infective in the early stages of the disease. However, as the disease
takes hold, it is believed that their level of infectivity slowly rises.
12. Organic Immunity
Anecdotal evidence suggests that cattle herds which
are organic (or those which are very close to gaining true organic
status), have a lower level of bovine tuberculosis.
13. Cheap Badger Deterrents?
It has been suggested that badgers are very reluctant
to enter into a garden if they come across the smell of human male urine
around the area where they normally enter the garden. Potentially, this
might be a cheap way of preventing badgers from wrecking people's
14. Climate Change
It is generally believed that the climate is slowly becoming warmer,
with hotter summers, warmer winters and more extreme storms.
Conditions of extreme cold can prove fatal for skin and fur-based
parasites (like fleas, lice and ticks). Sadly, too extreme cold periods
can also reduce the numbers of badgers which survive through the winter.
This can be especially bad for cubs, who may not have had enough time to
achieve a viable body-weight to survive the lean winter months.
In some species (like egg-laying turtles and crocodiles/alligators),
the proportion of male to female hatchlings alters as the temperature
varies during conception and development.
If too few badgers die, then their numbers can rise to meet the maximum
number that can be fed from a particular territory. If numbers rise
further still, is it likely that some badgers will die through starvation
or internal squabbling for food, or is it more likely that the badgers
will slowly reduce in size and weight, in line with the reduced food per
head that is available as badger numbers increase.
Of course, long periods of high temperatures or low rainfall, can make
earthworms, the badgers' staple food source, very scarce; which causes
reductions in the numbers of surviving badgers and their cubs.
What effect is the increasingly warm climate likely to have on badger
populations, in terms of basic survivability, general health and
aggressiveness towards one another as food sources become relatively more
How would you test whether the proportions of male and female badgers
is changing as the climate grows warmer.
15. Genetic Differences
Geneticists have suggested that in order to avoid damaging inbreeding
or too small a gene pool, communal living animals, such as badgers need to
eject key specimens and allow new "blood" to enter their gene
- How might you assess the extent to which a particular clan was more
or less inbred than neighbouring clans?
- Assess how you might track the genetic influence of a single
individual badger, to see how often its genetic material turns up in
descendants in its own and adjacent clans, as well as those further
- Assess the extent to which traits, such as an enhanced immunity to
TB, might become dominant or recessive throughout the badger
- Assess the extent to which the sterilization of infected individual
badgers might result in a reduction in the overall level of TB
infectivity in the badger population. Would this make any difference,
if you only sterilised infected females?
- Assess the speed at which particular traits might transfer across
- Form a view on whether introducing so-called TB-immune badgers into
a badger-population might have a beneficial effect on reducing the
incidence of TB in badgers.