Away from the city: habitat selection of badgers in mountainous area around Beijing

Abstract

The habitat selection of wild animals residing in suburban area reflects their behavioral adaptation strategies to urbanization and socio-economic development, affecting individual’s fitness and population development. Despite declining population of Asian badgers (Meles leucurus) in China, there are increasing cases in human badger conflict with only few studies examining their potential causes and impacts. In this study we compared and analyzed 19 ecological parameters from 212 blank available plots and 45 active plots conducted through transect survey in the surrounding mountainous area of Beijing. Additionally, we assessed summer habitat selection and use patterns of Asian badgers and the interactions with human activities. In summer, active plots of badgers were in higher elevation (867.86 ± 49.49 m a.s.l.) compared with the available plots, and lower ground-plants coverage (42.00 ± 5.00%). To ensure the high food availability in hot summer, badgers preferred gentle upper slope with moist soil and good lee condition (p < 0.05), far (> 1500 m) from the community and road avoiding the anthropogenic disturbances. Further, our study showed that they tended to select habitats close to cropland (< 500 m; p = 0.053) in the higher elevation of the mountainous area. The habitat selection of badgers around Beijing is a comprehensive tradeoff of their ecological needs in summer, including food availability, security, hydrothermal suitability. Therefore, changing the interference and type of human activities in low-altitude and protecting forest edges in high-altitude are conducive to mitigate human badger conflicts and thus maintain the biodiversity conservation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

Data Availability

The information of all data used in the study is available in Ecology Department, School of Environment and Natural Resources, Renmin University of China.

References

  1. Abduriyim S, Nishita Y, Abramov AV, Solovyev VA, Saveljev AP, Kosintsev PA, Raichev E, Väinölä R, Kaneko Y, Masuda R (2019) Variation in pancreatic amylase gene copy number among Eurasian badgers (Carnivora, Mustelidae, Meles) and its relationship to diet. J Zool 308:28–36. https://doi.org/10.1111/jzo.12649

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Brøseth H, Knutsen B, Bevanger K (1997) Spatial organization and habitat utilization of badgers Meles meles: effects of food patch dispersion in the boreal forest of Central Norway. Z Säugetierkunde 62:12–22

    Google Scholar 

  3. Buesching CD, Macdonald DW (2001) Scent-marking behaviour of the European badger (Meles meles): resource defence or individual advertisement? Chem Signals Vertebr 9:321–327. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4615-0671-3_43

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Cresswell WJ, Harris S (1988) The effects of weather conditions on the movements and activity of badgers (Meles meles) in a suburban environment. Proc Zool Soc London 216:187–194. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.1988.tb02424.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Delahay RJ, Frölich K (2000) Absence of antibodies against canine distemper virus in free-ranging populations of the Eurasian badger in great Britain. J Wildl Dis 36:576–579. https://doi.org/10.7589/0090-3558-36.3.576

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Di Sabatino D, Di Francesco G, Zaccaria G, Malatesta D, Brugnola L, Marcacci M, Portanti O, De Massis F, Savini G, Teodori L, Ruggieri E, Mangone I, Badagliacca P, Lorusso A (2016) Lethal distemper in badgers (Meles meles) following epidemic in dogs and wolves. Infect Genet Evol 46:130–137. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.meegid.2016.10.020

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Ethier DM, Sayers JB, Christopher JK, Nocera JJ, Ojkic D, Campbell D (2017) The occurrence of pathogens in an endangered population of Amercian badgers (Taxidea taxus jacksoni) in Ontario, Canada. J Wildl Dis 53:73–80. https://doi.org/10.7589/2016-02-040

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Filla M, Premier J, Magg N, Dupke C, Khorozyan I, Waltert M, Bufka L, Heurich M (2017) Habitat selection by Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) is primarily driven by avoidance of human activity during day and prey availability during night. Ecol Evol 7:6367–6381. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.3204

  9. Frąckowiak W, Theuerkauf J, Pirga B, Gula R (2014) Brown bear habitat selection in relation to anthropogenic structures in the Bieszczady Mountains, Poland. Biologia 69:926–930. https://doi.org/10.2478/s11756-014-0386-4

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Garnett BT, Delahay RJ, Roper TJ (2002) Use of cattle farm resources by badgers (Meles meles) and risk of bovine tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis) transmission to cattle. Proc R Soc Lond B 269:1487–1491. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2002.2072

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Hammer AS, Dietz HH, Andersen TH, Nielsen L, Blixenkrone-Moeller M (2004) Distemper virus as a cause of central nervous disease and death in badgers (Meles meles) in Denmark. Vet Rec 154:527–530. https://doi.org/10.1136/vr.154.17.527

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Harris S (1984) Ecology of urban badgers Meles meles: distribution in Britain and habitat selection, persecution, food and damage in the city of Bristol. Biol Conserv 28:349–375. https://doi.org/10.1016/0006-3207(84)90041-7

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Hodgson ID, Redpath SM, Sandström C, Biggs D (2020) The state of knowledge and practice on human-wildlife conflicts. Luc Hoffmann Institute, Gland, pp 13–16

    Google Scholar 

  14. Jenkinson S, Wheater CP (1998) The influence of public access and sett visibility on badger (Meles meles) sett disturbance and persistence. J Zool 246:478–482. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2004.01.006

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Kamenišťák J, Baláž I, Tulis F, Jakab I, Ševčík M, Poláčiková Z, Klimant P, Ambros M, Rychlik L (2020) Changes of small mammal communities with the altitude gradient. Biologia 75:713–722. https://doi.org/10.2478/s11756-019-00339-3

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Kaneko Y, Maruyama N, Macdonald DW (2006) Food habits and habitat selection of suburban badgers (Meles meles) in Japan. J Zool 270:78–89. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2006.00063.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Kinley TA, Newhouse HJ (2008) Ecology and translocation-aided recovery of an endangered badger population. J Wildl Manag 72:113–122. https://doi.org/10.2193/2006-406

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Klimant P, Baláž I, Krumpálová Z (2015) Communities of small mammals (Soricomorpha, Rodentia) in urbanized environment. Biologia 70:839–845. https://doi.org/10.1515/biolog-2015-0088

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Kolowski JM, Nielsen CK (2008) Using Penrose distance to identify potential risk of wildlife-vehicle collisions. Biol Conserv 141:1119–1128. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2008.02.011

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Kruuk H (1989) The social badger: ecology and behaviour of a group living carnivore (Meles meles). Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  21. Lara-Romero C, Virgós E, Escribano-Ávila G, Mangas JG, Barja I, Pardavila X (2012) Habitat selection by European badgers in Mediterranean semi-arid ecosystems. J Arid Environ 76:43–48. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaridenv.2011.08.004

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Li F, Luo ZH, Li CL, Li CW, Jiang ZG (2013) Biogeographical patterns of the diet of palearctic badger: is badger an earthworm specialist predator? Chin Sci Bull 58:2255–2261. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11434-012-5650-9

  23. Li L, Yang H, Teng L, Liu Z (2015) Habitat selection of Asian badgers (Meles leucurus) setts in Zhangguangcailing, Heilongjiang Province, China. Acta Ecol Sin 35:4836–4842. https://doi.org/10.5846/stxb201311052676 (in Chinese with English abstract)

  24. Liu GH, Wan J, Zhang HY, Cai LJ (2008) Eco-compensation policies and mechanisms in China. Rev Eur Comm Int Env Law 17:234–242. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9388.2008.00600.x

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Liu X, Yang M, Song S, Liu G, Zhao S, Liu G, Sándor H, Wang Y, Jiang H (2020) Brucella melitensis in Asian badgers, northwestern China. Emerg Infect Dis 26:804–806. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2604.190833

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  26. Long RA, Wambua A, Goheen JR, Palmer TM, Pringle RM (2017) Climatic variation modulates the indirect effects of large herbivores on small mammal habitat use. J Anim Ecol 86:739–748. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12669

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. Macdonald DW, Newman C, Dean J, Buesching CD, Johnson PJ (2004) The distribution of Eurasian badger Meles meles setts in a high-density area: field observations contradict the sett dispersion hypothesis. Oikos 106:295–307. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0030-1299.2004.12879.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. McCollister MF, van Manen FT (2010) Effectiveness of wildlife underpasses and fencing to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions. J Wildl Manag 74:1722–1731. https://doi.org/10.2193/2009-535

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Myslajek RW, Nowak S, Jedrzejewska B (2012) Distribution, characteristics and use of shelters by the Eurasian badger Meles meles along an altitudinal gradient in the Western Carpathians, S Poland. Folia Zool 61:152-160. https://doi.org/10.25225/fozo.v61.i2.a8.2012

  30. Neal EG, Harbison RJ (2010) Reproduction in the European badger (Meles meles l.). Proc Zool Soc London 29:67–130. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1096-3642.1958.tb00219.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. O'Brien J, Elliott S, Hayden TJ (2016) Use of hedgerows as a key element of badger (Meles meles) behaviour in Ireland. Mamm Biol 81:104–110. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mambio.2015.10.004

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Pita R, Morgado R, Moreira F, Mira A, Beja P (2020) Roads, forestry plantations and hedgerows affect badger occupancy in intensive Mediterranean farmland. Agric Ecosyst Environ 289:106721. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2019.106721

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Prigioni C, Deflorian MC (2005) Sett site selection by the Eurasian badger (Meles meles) in an Italian alpine area. Ital J Zool 72:43–48. https://doi.org/10.1080/11250000509356651

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Revilla E, Palomares F (2002) Spatial organization, group living and ecological correlates in low-density populations of Eurasian badgers, Meles meles. J Anim Ecol 71:497–512. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2656.2002.00617.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Rosalino LM, MacDonald DW, Santos-Reis M (2004) Spatial structure and land-cover use in a low-density Mediterranean population of Eurasian badgers. Can J Zool 82:1493–1502. https://doi.org/10.1139/z04-130

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Santos MJ, Beier P (2008) Habitat selection by European badgers at multiple spatial scales in Portuguese Mediterranean ecosystems. Wildl Res 35:835–843. https://doi.org/10.1071/WR08009

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Silva AP, Curveira-Santos G, Kilshaw K, Newman C, Macdonald DW, Simões LG, Rosalino LM (2017) Climate and anthropogenic factors determine site occupancy in Scotland's northern-range badger population: implications of context-dependent responses under environmental change. Divers Distrib 23:627–639. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.12564

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Skinner C, Skinner P, Harris S (1991) An analysis of some of the factors affecting the current distribution of badger Meles meles setts in Essex. Mammal Rev 21:51–65. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2907.1991.tb00287.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Stewart PD, Macdonald DW (2003) Badgers and badger fleas: strategies and counter-strategies. Ethology 109:751–764. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1439-0310.2003.00910.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Stewart PD, Macdonald DW, Newman C, Cheeseman CL (2001) Boundary faeces and matched advertisement in the European badger (Meles meles): a potential role in range exclusion. J Zool 255:191–198. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0952836901001261

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Sunga J, Sayers J, Cottenie K, Kyle CJ, Ethier DM (2017) The effects of roads on habitat selection and movement patterns of American badgers (Taxidea taxus jacksoni) in Ontario, Canada. Can J Zool 95:821–828. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjz-2016-0286

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Virgós E (2002) Are habitat generalists affected by forest fragmentation? A test with Eurasian badgers (Meles meles) in coarse-grained fragmented landscapes of Central Spain. J Zool 258:313–318. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0952836902001449

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Wright A, Fielding AH, Wheater CP (2000) Predicting the distribution of Eurasian badger (Meles meles) setts over an urbanized landscape: a GIS approach. Photogramm Eng Remote Sens 66:423–428

    Google Scholar 

  44. Yang H, Liu Z, Xu K, Song C, Wu M, Sun J (2010) Autumn habitat selection of eurasian badgers (Meles meles amurensis) a case of Fangzheng forestry bureau, Heilongjiang Province, China. Acta Ecol Sin 30:1875–1881 (in Chinese with English abstract)

    Google Scholar 

  45. Yao Z, Liu Z, Teng L, Yang H (2012) Asian badger (Meles leucurus, Mustelidae, Carnivora) habitat selection in the Xiaoxing’anling mountains, Heilongjiang Province, China. Mammalia 77:157–162. https://doi.org/10.1515/mammalia-2011-0116

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Zagainova O, Markov N (2011) The diet of Asian badger, Meles leucurus Hodgson, 1847, in Samarovskii Chugas Nature Park, Western Siberia. Russ J Ecol 42:414–420. https://doi.org/10.1134/S1067413611050158

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Zhou X, Jiao H, Dou Y, Aryal A, Hu J, Hu JC, Meng XX (2013) The winter habitat selection of red panda (Ailurus fulgens) in the Meigu Dafengding National Nature Reserve, China. Curr Sci 105:1425–1429

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by The Biodiversity Survey and Assessment Project of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, China (2019HJ2096001006) and the Nature Science Foundation of China (31672300). The authors wish to acknowledge Yinghong Hao, Shaopeng Cui, Qingbin Lu, Nengwen Xiao, Zhiping Zhao, Yijuan Deng, Yuhong Qin, Naixiu Yuan, Mengzhen Chu, Yangzhe Li, Taifu Sun, for the hard work in field investigation.

Funding

This research was supported by The Biodiversity Survey and Assessment Project of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, China (2019HJ2096001006) and the Nature Science Foundation of China (31672300).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Xiuxiang Meng.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

The study received approval from the institutional review board of Renmin University of China.

Consent for publication

Written informed consent for publication was obtained from all participants.

Code availability

Not applicable.

Ethical approval

This study was carried out in accordance with the local ethical committee and complied with the current Chinese law.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wang, J., Ji, S., Wu, J. et al. Away from the city: habitat selection of badgers in mountainous area around Beijing. Biologia (2021). https://doi.org/10.2478/s11756-020-00673-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Badger (Meles leucurus)
  • Beijing
  • Habitat selection
  • Summer
  • Human badger conflicts