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Low genetic variability, female-biased dispersal and high movement rates in an urban population of Eurasian badgersMeles meles

Huck, M., Frantz, A.C., Dawson, D.A., Burke, T. and Roper, T.J. (2008) Low genetic variability, female-biased dispersal and high movement rates in an urban population of Eurasian badgersMeles meles. Journal of Animal Ecology, 77 (5). pp. 905-915. ISSN 00218790

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Abstract

1. Urban and rural populations of animals can differ in their behaviour, both in order to meet their ecological requirements and due to the constraints imposed by different environments. The study of urban populations can therefore offer useful insights into the behavioural flexibility of a species as a whole, as well as indicating how the species in question adapts to a specifically urban environment. 2. The genetic structure of a population can provide information about social structure and movement patterns that is difficult to obtain by other means. Using non-invasively collected hair samples, we estimated the population size of Eurasian badgers Meles meles in the city of Brighton, England, and calculated population-specific parameters of genetic variability and sex-specific rates of outbreeding and dispersal. 3. Population density was high in the context of badger densities reported throughout their range. This was due to a high density of social groups rather than large numbers of individuals per group. 4. The allelic richness of the population was low compared with other British populations. However, the rate of extra-group paternity and the relatively frequent (mainly temporary) intergroup movements suggest that, on a local scale, the population was outbred. Although members of both sexes visited other groups, there was a trend for more females to make intergroup movements. 5. The results reveal that urban badgers can achieve high densities and suggest that while some population parameters are similar between urban and rural populations, the frequency of intergroup movements is higher among urban badgers. In a wider context, these results demonstrate the ability of non-invasive genetic sampling to provide information about the population density, social structure and behaviour of urban wildlife.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 British Ecological Society. This is an author produced version of a paper published in 'Journal of Animal Ecology'. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Keywords: group size, outbreeding, population density, sex-biased dispersal, spatial genetic structure, sex typing
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Biological Sciences (Sheffield) > Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 18 Oct 2010 14:08
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2013 17:29
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2656.2008.01415.x
Status: Published
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2008.01415.x
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/42574

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