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Daily movement and territory use by badgers Meles meles in Białłowieża Primeval Forest, Poland

Kowalczyk, Rafałł, Zalewski, Andrzej, Bogumiłła, Jęędrzejewska
Wildlife biology 2006 v.12 no.4 pp. 385-391
Carpinus betulus, Meles meles, Quercus robur, Tilia cordata, adults, badgers, correlation, deciduous forests, earthworms, food availability, foraging, habitats, home range, radio telemetry, seasonal variation, summer, territoriality, woodlands, England, Poland, Spain, Switzerland
We used radio-telemetry to study movement and territory use by 13 Eurasian badgers Meles meles in a well-preserved continuous woodland of Białłowieża Primeval Forest (BPF), Poland. Daily movement distance (DMD) of badgers averaged 7 km, and daily range (DR) covered 2.1 km², i.e. 19%% of their total home-range size. DMD and DR varied seasonally, being largest in summer when the availability of food resources was lowest. DMD was positively correlated with home-range size of badgers and the duration of their daily activity. Badgers moved with an average speed of 0.9 km/hour (maximum 7.1 km/hour). Nevertheless, travel speed was more than twice as fast after the emergence and before the return to the sett than during the peak of badger activity. This behaviour suggests that badgers moved directly to well-known and well-defined feeding patches. Indeed, we also found that the lengths of daily foraging routes was positively correlated with the number of patches of oak Quercus robur-lime Tilia cordata-hornbeam Carpinus betulus forests in a territory (ranging within 1––11), habitat which presents the highest earthworm abundance in BPF. Adult badgers of both sexes visited territory boundaries significantly more often than subadult individuals. Consecutive nightly ranges of badgers overlapped by 24%%, which may indicate a rotational way of area use in order to defend large territories. Review of available data on mobility of badgers showed that mean daily movement ranged from 1.2 km in England to 7.0 km in our study. DMDs were positively correlated with home-range size. Average speed of badger movement varied from 0.3 km/hour in Spanish badgers to 1.1 km/hour in Swiss badgers. Our local data as well as the review of other European studies suggest that it is the length of the daily foraging routes that links food resources and home-range size. In areas with low abundance of earthworms and/or widely dispersed foraging patches, badgers move longer distances, cover larger daily ranges and defend large territories.