Suburban gardens, parks and allotments key for hedgehogs’ survival in Greater London - Zoological Society London

hedgehog © Christopher Morgan
© Christopher Morgan

Citizen scientists contribute to ZSL-led study on London hedgehogs which reveals the prickly creatures' residential preferences.

Conservation scientists at ZSL (Zoological Society London) have used data collected by the general public in Greater London to map out the best places for hedgehogs to live in the capital.

Due to loss of natural habitat, the west European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), once common across the British Isles, is now vulnerable to extinction in the UK. Cities and towns are especially important for conservationists to consider in any action plans, hedgehogs are found in almost 73% of major cities located within the hedgehog’s range in Europe - a figure illustrated by the number of the small mammals living in England's capital.

The new study, which was published today (Tuesday 14 Dec) in Mammal Review shows that public and private green spaces are key for urban hedgehogs, suggesting that the loss of connected wild spaces replaced with driveways, pavements and roads significantly lessens their chances of survival.

Lead author and PhD student at ZSL’s Institute of Zoology, Jessica Turner said: “To successfully protect and restore hedgehog numbers, it is important to understand where and how they use the built-up environment. We have been able to use the large amounts of data generated by citizen scientists to look at where hedgehogs may be found and identify key habitat features for them within the entire city. This also shows the value of using records reported through citizen science, as it would not have been possible without the public’s efforts to report their sightings of hedgehogs and other mammals in London.”

Using the data of 3012 hedgehog occurrence records collected by citizen scientists across 32 boroughs in Greater London, the team created a predictive map of suitable habitats across the capital.

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Posted On: 14/12/2021

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