Daily energy expenditure in the face of predation: hedgehog energetics in rural landscapes

Carly E Pettett, Paul J Johnson, Tom P Moorhouse, Catherine Hambly, John R Speakman, David W Macdonald

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18 Citations (Scopus)
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Failure to balance daily energy expenditure (DEE) with energy intake can have an impact on survival and reproduction, and therefore on the persistence of populations. Here we study the DEE of the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), which is declining in the UK. We hypothesise that there is a gradient of suitable habitat for hedgehogs in rural areas, which is a result of fewer food resources, a higher risk from predation by badgers (Meles meles) and colder ambient temperatures, as distance to the nearest building increases. We used the doubly labelled water method to obtain 44 measurements of DEE from hedgehogs on four predominately arable sites, to determine the energetic costs associated with proximity to buildings, on sites with and without badgers. The mean±s.e.m. DEE was 508.9±34.8 kJ day(-1) DEE increased the further a hedgehog was from buildings during the study, possibly as they ranged larger distances on arable land, supporting the hypothesis that hedgehogs select villages owing to the lower energy demands in comparison to arable farmland. Hedgehogs had an approximately 30% lower DEE on sites with badgers. We speculate that on badger-occupied sites, hedgehogs may restrict movement and foraging in response to a threat from predation and thus have reduced DEE. Therefore, hedgehogs may also seek refuge in villages where the perceived threat of predation is lower and foraging is unrestricted. In a broader context, we demonstrate that individual differences in DEE can aid in understanding habitat selection in a patchily distributed species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)460-468
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number3
Early online date1 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • arable farmland
  • doubly labelled water
  • landscape of fear
  • meles meles
  • predation risk


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