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Title: Energy expenditure and behaviour of the European badger (Meles meles)
Author: McClune, David William
ISNI:       0000 0004 6057 1956
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis begins by examining the factors that affect metabolic rate, before turning to the measurement of energy expenditure and the quantification of behaviour in the European badger (Meles meles). Resting metabolic rate and daily energy expenditure (DEE) were measured (by respirometry and doubly labelled water, respectively) in a population of free-ranging badgers and analysed in terms of age, sex, season, and bovine tuberculosis (bTB) disease status. In a pilot study with a captive tame badger, a tri-axial accelerometer equipped collar was used to gather data on badger movement. Custom software was also developed to classify badger behaviour. This software was then applied to accelerometer data collected on a wild badger (along with global positioning system (GPS) information) to construct a detailed behaviour-time budget and elucidate habitat use. Resting metabolic rate was found to be significantly lower during the winter (1845±109 kJ d-1) compared to the summer (2366±70 kJ-d-1). Measurements during the summer were significantly higher than mustelid specific basal metabolic rate allometric predictions. Evidence was also found for seasonal variation in DEE, with values during the winter (2309±736 kJ-d-1) being significantly lower than both summer (2566±1011 kJ-d-1) and autumn (3070±780 kJ d-1). Based on the available data, there was no detectable effect of bTB disease status on DEE. In the captive badger accelerometer study, behavioural classification had an accuracy of 99.4% for resting, 78.7% for trotting, 77.5% for snuffling, and 77.4% for walking. When applied to accelerometer and GPS data collected on a free-ranging badger, resting was the most commonly identified behaviour (67.4%) followed by walking (20.9%), snuffling (9.5%) and trotting (2.3%). An acceleration based proxy for energy expenditure was derived for each behaviour. Variation in badger behaviour with habitat type was also investigated. This work provides new insights into the energy expenditure and behaviour of the European badger, as well as the development of techniques that have potential to be applied to a range of other species.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available