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Project to explore climate’s impact on hedgehogs
hedgehog tunnel
The inside of a footprint tracking tunnel, being used to monitor hedgehog activity.
Researchers will look at winter food sources and hedgehog activity
 
Leicester researchers are set to explore how the changing climate is affecting British hedgehog survival during winter waking.

Led by Saadia Khan at the University of Leicester, the project will investigate whether warmer wetter winters are impacting invertebrate food sources for hedgehogs, which would have a detrimental impact on their ability to survive.

Hedgehogs wake up periodically during hibernation to forage for food in warm winter spells. Khan said: “With warmer winters, these periods of winter waking may be increasing. This poses problems if the energy lost during winter waking is not replaced due to the lack of food sources available in the winter.”

University of Leicester research on hedgehog activity is already underway at 12 sites and has previously looked at food availability and hedgehog activity in autumn.

Khan, who is being supervised by Dr Moya Burns from the university’s geography department, will build on this research by using footprint tracking tunnels to monitor hedgehog activity and putting out data loggers to explore whether there is a link between how often hedgehogs forage over winter, and ambient temperature. Food availability will be assessed by sampling for ground beetles, earthworms and slugs.

A previous study by Leicester City Council found several population clusters around Leicester and has helped to inform some of the sites in the current project.

Richard Kelly, natural conservation officer at the city council said: “It is hoped that the findings may indicate where extra conservation efforts could be focused in helping to reduce the decline of the hedgehog.”

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Mission Rabies 2017 off to a great start

News Story 1
 More than 4,500 dogs have been vaccinated against rabies in one of the first major drives of 2017.

It took just two weeks in January for Mission Rabies to vaccinate 4,575 dogs in the Meru district of Tanzania.

The team set-up vaccination points across the district and followed-up with door-to-door work, checking vaccination cards and giving vaccines to any dogs that had been missed.

Overall, the charity reached 75 per cent of the local dog population, smashing last year's total and comfortably above the required 70 per cent.  

News Shorts
US science association honours leading Pirbright scientist

A leading scientist at The Pirbright Institute has been honoured by the American Association for the Advancement of Science as a 2017-2018 AAAS Alan I. Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement Fellow.

Dr Anthony Wilson, group leader for integrative entomology at Pirbright, was chosen from a large number of international applicants, together with 14 other infectious disease researchers from around the world.

In selecting the new Public Engagement Fellows, the AAAS said they had demonstrated, "...leadership and excellence in their research careers and interest in promoting meaningful dialogue between science and society".