Applied hedgehog conservation research

This project aims to investigate how hedgehogs adapt to urban living conditions in order to develop improved protection measures for hedgehogs in close dialog with all interest groups and establish them in society.

Project details
Duration: since 10/2013
Third-party funded: yes (2016-2019)
Involved Department(s): Dept Evolutionary EcologyDept Evolutionary Genetics
Leibniz-IZW Project Leader(s): Anne Berger (Dept Evolutionary Ecology)
Leibniz-IZW Project Team: Jörns Fickel (Dept Evolutionary Genetics)
Consortium Partner(s): Berlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research (BBIB)
Current Funding Organisation: -
Research Foci:
Understanding traits and evolutionary adaptations
Unterstanding the environmental context
Improving population viability

Despite their protected status and widespread popularity, the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) is declining, especially in rural areas. This decline is caused by a number of different, mainly anthropogenic factors, including habitat loss and fragmentation, a reduction in the availability of invertebrate prey, and an increase in everyday threats to hedgehogs from cars, toxins, electric garden tools or litter. Urgent action is needed to stop this decline, but research is also needed to understand the causes of the decline and to investigate the effectiveness and potential for improvement of various conservation initiatives. The IZW project "Applied Hedgehog Conservation Research" aims to contribute to the development of improved conservation measures for the hedgehog and to establish them in society in close dialogue with all stakeholder groups. In addition to these highly applied research tasks, basic research studies are also being carried out, e.g. on the adaptability of the hedgehog to urban living conditions.

Selected Publications

Berger A (2024): Occurrence and Characteristics of Cut Injuries in Hedgehogs in Germany: A Collection of Individual Cases. Animals, 14, 57.

Rasmussen SL, Schrøder BT, Berger A, Macdonald DW, Pertoldi C, Briefer EF, Alstrup AKO (2024): Facing Danger: Exploring Personality and Reactions of European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) towards Robotic Lawn Mowers. Animals, 14, 2.

Rasmussen SL, Schrøder BT, Berger A, Sollmann R, Macdonald DW, Pertoldi C, Alstrup AKO (2024): Testing the Impact of Robotic Lawn Mowers on European Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) and Designing a Safety Test. Animals, 14, 122.

Berger A, Barthel LMF, Rast W, Hofer H, Gras P (2020): Urban Hedgehog Behavioural Responses to Temporary Habitat Disturbance versus Permanent Fragmentation. Animals, 10(11), 2109.

Barthel LMF, Werner D, Schmidt A, Berger A, Hofer H, Fickel J (2020): Unexpected Gene-Flow in Urban Environments:The Example of the European Hedgehog. Animals, 10(12), 2315;

Berger A, Lozano B, Barthel LMF, Schubert N (2020): Moving in the dark - Evidence for an influence of artificial light at night on the movement behaviour of European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus). Animals, 10(8), 1306.

Barthel LMF, Hofer H, Berger A (2019): An easy, flexible solution to attach devices to hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) enables long-term high-resolution studies. ECOL EVOL 9, 672–679.

Rast W, Barthel LMF, Berger A (2019): Music festival makes hedgehogs move: how individuals cope behaviorally in response to human-induced stressors. Animals 9(7), 455.