University of Brighton mammalian biologist is calling on the public for ‘animal stories from the garden’ for research and a special feature for BBC Two’s forthcoming Springwatch series.
Dr Dawn Scott and her team are studying interactions between foxes, hedgehogs, badgers, cats and dogs in the presence or absence of food in people’s gardens.
Dr Scott, Principal Lecturer in the university’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, said: “Many people support wildlife in their gardens by providing food for them. However, we don’t yet fully understand how providing food can affect the interactions between wildlife.
“It is not always known what animals actually end up eating this extra food or if the animals compete to get access to it. Foxes and hedgehogs have been seen to feed from the same bowl but we have also seen animals come into conflict over the food provided.
“The project will be focused on interactions between foxes, badgers and hedgehogs, but we are also interested in interactions between the same species, i.e. fox and another fox, and also between pets.”
Findings from the research will feature in BBCs Two’s Springwatch which is scheduled to air from 29 May to 15 June.
Dr Scott, who has appeared on several BBC ‘watch’ programmes with presenter Chris Packham, is appealing to the public: “Please help us to find out how extra food provided in gardens may influence the interactions between garden mammals by sharing with us any interactions you have seen or recorded between the mammals in your garden.
“You can do this by uploading videos, photos or descriptions of what you have seen and answer a few anonymous questions about if you provide food in your garden or not. This will help us understand how feeding might be affecting interactions between garden mammals.
“Whether you provide food in your garden or not, we are keen for us to share the tales from your garden.”
Researchers trained in behaviour analysis will look at video/images and stories and will analyse the interaction between the animals. Researchers will be able to determine the types and extent of interactions between different garden mammals.
Videos and photos which have interesting examples of interactions will be shared using social media. For details on how to send in your stories and videos, go to https://www.brighton.ac.uk/springtails
For more about Dr Scott’s research, go to: https://cms-preview.brighton.ac.uk/research-and-enterprise/research/life-health-and-physical-sciences/research-groups/ecosystems-and-environmental-mngmt/urban-mammals.aspx