The ecology of the European badger (Meles meles) in Ireland: a review
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CitationAndrew W. Byrne, D. Paddy Sleeman, James O'Keeffe, John Davenport. The ecology of the European badger (Meles meles) in Ireland: a review. Biology & Environment: Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 2012, 112(1), 105-132. DOI 10.3318/BIOE.2012.02
AbstractThe badger is an ecologically and economically important species. Detailed knowledge of aspects of the ecology of this animal in Ireland has only emerged through research over recent decades. Here, we review what is known about the species' Irish populations and compare these findings with populations in Britain and Europe. Like populations elsewhere, setts are preferentially constructed on south or southeast facing sloping ground in well-drained soil types. Unlike in Britain, Irish badger main setts are less complex and most commonly found in hedgerows. Badgers utilise many habitat types, but greater badger densities have been associated with landscapes with high proportions of pasture and broadleaf woodlands. Badgers in Ireland tend to have seasonally varied diets, with less dependence on earthworms than some other populations in northwest Europe. Recent research suggests that females exhibit later onset and timing of reproductive events, smaller litter sizes and lower loss of blastocysts than populations studied in Britain. Adult social groups in Ireland tend to be smaller than in Britain, though significantly larger than social groups from continental Europe. Although progress has been made in estimating the distribution and density of badger populations, national population estimates have varied widely in the Republic of Ireland. Future research should concentrate on filling gaps in our knowledge, including population models and predictive spatial modelling that will contribute to vaccine delivery, management and conservation strategies.
FunderDepartment of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Ireland; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme