Continuing influences of introduced hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus as a predator of wader (Charadrii) eggs four decades after their release on the Outer Hebrides, Scotland.
Non-native predators can cause major declines or even localised extinctions in prey populations across the globe, especially on islands. The removal of non-native predators can, therefore, be a crucial conservation management tool but there can be challenges when they are viewed as charismatic in their own right. Four decades after their introduction to islands in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland, European hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus continue to be an important nest predator for a declining population of breeding waders. Where hedgehogs were rare, clutch survival rates (assessed using nest temperature loggers) of five species of waders (dunlin Calidris alpina, lapwing Vanellus vanellus, redshank Tringa totanus, snipe Gallinago gallinago and ringed plover Charadrius hiaticula) were higher than where hedgehogs were relatively more abundant. Hedgehogs were the most frequent nest predator identified using cameras. However, factors influencing population sizes of breeding waders are complex and unlikely to be attributable to a single species of predator. The interactions between predation, land use, habitat and the changes in each deserve further attention.