The Japanese badger (Meles anakuma) is an endemic species in Japan. Although it has been considered a forest-dwelling species, a recent study has shown that badgers use pastures intensively to feed on earthworms, suggesting that pastures comprise an important habitat for them. Therefore, this study investigated the distribution of this species’ setts (≥ 1 m deep) and couches (< 1 m deep) in a mosaic habitat composed of grasslands and forests. A significantly higher number of setts and couches were located at the forest edge neighboring to grassland than within the grassland or the inner part of the forest. This suggests that Japanese badgers preferentially construct their setts and couches near grasslands for easier access while avoiding various disturbances. This study found that significantly more setts and couches were situated on the north-facing slope, suggesting that this location avoids the trampling disturbances caused by the sika deer’s (Cervus nippon) feeding activities, due to slow snow thawing. The proper conservation of Japanese badgers would require recognizing the grasslands’ neighboring forest edge as an important sett or couch site.
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We appreciate the assistance of the Kouzu Dairy Farm staff, the field work assistance by Nanami Kouso, Tomomi Harada, and Yujiro Tomita, and the assistance of members of the Laboratory of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Department of Animal Science and Biotechnology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Azabu University.
This study was partly supported by the JSPS KAKENHI Grant No. 17K8189 and by the research fund of Shimonita Geopark.
Communicated by: Rafał Kowalczyk
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Tsukada, H., Kawaguchi, Y., Hijikata, K. et al. Sett site selection by the Japanese badger Meles anakuma in a grassland/forest mosaic. Mamm Res 65, 517–522 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13364-020-00500-3