Hugging the hedges: Might agri-environment manipulations affect landscape permeability for hedgehogs?

Tom P. Moorhouse*, Stephen C. F. Palmer, Justin M. J. Travis, David W. Macdonald

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Semi-natural agricultural habitats have declined in northern Europe since the 1950s, to the detriment of habitat connectivity and biodiversity. European agri-environmental schemes to restore them should target the habitats most likely to remedy these impacts. We employed a stochastic individual-based simulation model to predict movements of a model species, the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), across a series of virtual landscapes - digitised from a typical UK lowland agricultural area - in which the abundance of hedgerow, pasture fields and field margin had been manipulated according to a factorial design. The primary landscape determinant of distances that model hedgehogs travelled was the percentage of field boundaries that were hedgerow: doubling this from the status quo resulted in an additional 13% of individuals moving 500 m, 25% 1000 m, 35% 1500 m and 51% 2000 m. Trebling the percentage of hedge yielded no additional benefit over doubling it (mean additional percentage 0.6%). Doubling the landscape percentage of pastures resulted in a 1% increase in model individuals moving 500 m and 1000 m, but decreases for 1500 m and 2000 m (-2% and -4%, respectively). Increasing the percentage of hedged fields that also had field margins led to decreases of -1% to -8% in individuals moving any distance. Agri-environmental scheme options to reinstate or repair hedges that double their percentage in lowland farmland would enhance population connectivity for European hedgehogs. Further work should extend these individual-based models to representative sets of species to explore the extent to which management for one species may benefit others. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-116
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Conservation
Early online date11 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014


  • Erinaceus europaeus
  • individual-based modelling
  • stochastic movement simulator
  • landscape permeability
  • agri-environment scheme
  • hedge
  • pasture
  • field margin
  • erinaceus-Europaeus
  • connectivity
  • conservation
  • dispersal
  • farmland
  • habitat
  • survival
  • impacts
  • Britain


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