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What do European badgers (Meles meles) know about the spatial organisation of neighbouring groups?

Behavioural Processes
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.beproc.2006.01.001
  • European Badger
  • Homing
  • Home Range
  • Cognitive Mapping
  • Neighbourhood


Abstract European badgers ( Meles meles) live in groups. Although they can distinguish between a member of their own group, a member of a neighbouring group and a stranger, their ability to understand that neighbouring individuals belong to different groups inhabiting different places, and possibly to build up some representation of the spatial organisation of neighbouring groups remains to be shown. In this study, we conducted a pilot homing experiment to test such ability. Radio-collared badgers were displaced to the home ranges of neighbouring groups and their homing performances were compared to those of badgers displaced either to the periphery of their own group's home range or beyond the neighbouring home ranges. When released in their own home range, badgers homed rapidly and efficiently, whereas when released beyond the neighbouring groups’ home ranges (whatever the distance) they did not home. In contrast, badgers released in the home range of a neighbouring group performed some random search there, before returning to their setts quite efficiently. These results suggest that badgers may consider their neighbours as members of different groups inhabiting different places close to their own home range, but their ability to build up some spatial representation of neighbourhood relationships could not be demonstrated.

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