Type

Journal Article

Authors

Chris Newman
James O'Keeffe
Ursula Fogarty
Andrew W. Byrne

Subjects

Biology

Topics
habitat quality climate change post mortem spatial variation hierarchical model temporal response european badger meles meles body weight

In-situ adaptive response to climate and habitat quality variation: spatial and temporal variation in European badger (Meles meles) body-weight. (2015)

Abstract Variation in climatic and habitat conditions can affect populations through a variety of mechanisms, and these relationships can act at different temporal and spatial scales. Using post-mortem badger body-weight records from 15,878 individuals captured across the Republic of Ireland (7,224 setts across ca.15,000 km(2) ; 2009-2012), we employed a hierarchical multi-level mixed model to evaluate the effects of climate (rainfall and temperature) and habitat quality (landscape suitability), while controlling for local abundance (unique badgers caught/sett/year). Body-weight was affected strongly by temperature across a number of temporal scales (preceding month or season), with badgers being heavier if preceding temperatures (particularly during winter/spring) were warmer than the long-term seasonal mean. There was less support for rainfall across different temporal scales; although badgers did exhibit heavier weights when greater rainfall occurred one or two months prior to capture. Badgers were also heavier in areas with higher landscape habitat quality; modulated by the number of individuals captured per sett, consistent with density-dependent effects reducing weights. Overall, the mean badger body-weight of culled individuals rose during the study period (2009-2012); more so for males than for females. With predicted increases in temperature, and rainfall, augmented by on-going agricultural land conversion in this region, we project heavier individual badger body-weights in the future. Increased body-weight has been associated with higher fecundity, recruitment and survival rates in badgers, due to improved food availability and energetic budgets. We thus predict that climate change could increase the badger population across the Republic of Ireland. Nevertheless, we emphasise that, locally, populations could still be vulnerable to extreme weather variability coupled with detrimental agricultural practice, including population management. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Collections Ireland -> University College Dublin -> PubMed

Full list of authors on original publication

Chris Newman, James O'Keeffe, Ursula Fogarty, Andrew W. Byrne

Experts in our system

1
James O'Keeffe
University College Dublin
Total Publications: 48
 
2
Andrew W. Byrne
University College Dublin
Total Publications: 16