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Climate Change means more badgers fewer hedgehogs

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: More badgers and fewer hedgehogs. Coincidence? I don't think so - Nature Studies - Nature - The Independent

In the wild, animal numbers naturally fluctuate. The marsh fritillary butterfly, for example, can virtually vanish from some of its colonies in certain years, only to be present two or three years later in numbers that are overwhelming (this is caused by cycles of parasite infestation, and something similar happens with red grouse).

Generally, though, animal numbers have evolved to be in balance, both with their food supply and with other species. Predators cannot eat all the prey, as they themselves would die out. So when an event comes along which disturbs this balance, it's worth examining. One such is the steep decline of one of our best-loved mammals, the hedgehog.

In the past 20 years or so, hedgehogs have disappeared from much of Britain. This has not really registered yet in the public consciousness, but it is an astounding phenomenon. There were an estimated 30 million hedgehogs in Britain in the 1950s, but by the 1990s this was thought to be down to about 1.5 million, and recently the rate of decline has grown even steeper....

....my own impression – not worth a row of beans, scientifically, of course – is that the link is obvious and direct, and I take this from my experience of my local patch, as birders would say, which happens to be the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew ...

Say what you like: one animal has come, the other has gone. I can't see a way round it. In terms of our startling hedgehog disappearance, badgers seems to be The Cause That Dare Not Speak Its Name.

Yes - he is on the right lines here... of course he could have looked up a scientific paper to bolster his case.


“The abundance of hedgehogs varied in direct relation to the density of badger setts as a single variable. Absence of hedgehogs from all but a few isolated pockets in a site was predicted at densities of =2.27 badger setts per 10 km2” - http://www.jstor.org/pss/5262

But then maybe science isn't really his thing...

Badger ... numbers have increased enormously, almost certainly because of the warmer winters brought about by climate change.

Or maybe because they are a protected species...

Comments

There was an item about hedgehogs on BBC Radio 4's Today programme yesterday, as apparently the public is "being urged to take part in a survey of hedgehogs to see if climate change is having an impact on their hibernation and survival"

The curious thing is that climate change (i.e. milder winters) is said to be good for hedgehogs, as they don't have to hibernate for so long, and can be up and about, thus having more time to make extra baby hedgehogs.

But therein lies a moral conundrum, as climate change, by definition (man-made, catastrophic, etc) is by nature evil. So how can this be?

Here's how the solution presents itself. If global warming means more badgers, and as more badgers means far fewer hedgehogs, climate change is now restored to its rightful place as the cause of all things bad in the natural world, and the narrative survives intact. QED.

Did someone say, "Badger"?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2C8TdLx3-xs

Or "Narwhals"?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykwqXuMPsoc&feature=related

(Be grateful I didn't link to the 10 hour version of Badgers.)

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