Vigilance in badgers Meles meles: The effects of group size and human persecution
Tuyttens FAM., Stapley N., Stewart PD., Macdonald DW.
Potential costs to badgers Meles meles (Linnaeus, 1758) of living in groups may be offset by the ability of a group to either improve predator detection, or reduce the time each individual must be vigilant to attain a certain likelihood of predator detection. Using an infra-red video-surveillance system, we show that badgers emerge later from their dens in a population that has been repeatedly subjected to lethal control by humans as compared to badgers from a nearby, undisturbed population. We further illustrate that, despite the apparent lack of a visual or vocal alarm signal to alert group members to a threat, corporate vigilance increases and individual vigilance levels decrease as badgers aggregate in groups (up to 4). These results highlight the possibility that the role of (human) predation in badger social evolution has not been sufficiently considered.