Dr Sophie Lund Rasmussen
Who doesn’t love hedgehogs? Well, at least I absolutely adore European hedgehogs! Therefore, I have decided that my goal in life is to improve the conservation of this fascinating and popular species through my research and the collaboration with, and communication of my research, to the public and the dedicated people working with hedgehog rehabilitation.
Unfortunately, scientific research from several European countries indicate that the population of European hedgehogs is in decline all over Europe. It is therefore essential to investigate the causes for the decline and enhance the understanding of the challenges hedgehogs face in the wild in order to improve the conservation initiatives directed at this species.
I am very grateful to be affiliated with WildCRU, and I am certain my work will benefit from the long tradition and expertise in hedgehog research and conservation which WildCRU has gained over the years.
I have worked with scientific research on hedgehogs since 2011, where I volunteered at a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Denmark and decided the focus of my Master’s thesis in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation should be on hedgehog ecology. I have worked wholeheartedly on my research on hedgehogs ever since, and have even earned the nickname “Dr Hedgehog” (“Dr Pindsvin” in Danish) in the media.
My PhD project, “The Danish Hedgehog Project” (2016-2019), which I carried out at University of Southern Denmark and Naturama, was based on citizen science. I used the media to encourage volunteering citizens to collect dead hedgehogs for my research. There was an enormous support for the project, and with the participation of over 400 volunteers I received 697 dead hedgehogs from all over Denmark! The 697 hedgehogs have now been necropsied and the samples from these hedgehogs have allowed me to investigate their general health, with research into their genetics and inbreeding, parasitology, age distribution, MRSA prevalence and dental health. The current and planned future research based on these samples include studies of infectious diseases, cancer, the general composition of their microbiomes (the collection of microorganisms including bacteria, archaea, and fungi living in and on the bodies of the hedgehogs), their food choice, and lastly, which poisons accumulate in the hedgehogs.
I have also recently investigated the effects and dangers of robotic lawn mowers on hedgehogs.
Hopefully my research will provide an important and detailed insight into the general health and survival challenges of the hedgehogs, enabling us to improve the conservation of this fascinating species so that future generations will also be able to enjoy the unique nature experience of encountering a hedgehog in their garden.
Facebook page for The Danish Hedgehog Project
Sophie Lund Rasmussen, Jeppe Lund Nielsen, Owen R. Jones, Thomas B. Berg, Cino Pertoldi 2020. Genetic structure of the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) in Denmark. PLOS ONE 15(1): e0227205. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0227205
Sophie Lund Rasmussen, Thomas B. Berg, Torben Dabelsteen and Owen R. Jones 2019. The ecology of suburban juvenile European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) in Denmark. Ecology and Evolution 9: 13174– 13187. Available at:https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.5764
Sophie Lund Rasmussen, Jesper Larsen, Rien van Wijk, Owen R. Jones, Thomas Bjørneboe Berg, Øystein Angen, Anders Rhod Larsen 2019. European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) as a natural reservoir of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus carrying mecC in Denmark. PLOS ONE 14(9): e0222031. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0222031
Sophie Lund Rasmussen, Erika Yashiro, Elsa Sverrisdóttir, Kåre Lehmann Nielsen, Mie Bech Lukassen, Jeppe Lund Nielsen, Torben Asp, Cino Pertoldi 2019. Applying the GBS technique for the genomic characterization of a Danish population of European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus). Genetics and Biodiversity Journal (GABJ) vol. 3(2): 78-86. Available at: http://ojs.univ-tlemcen.dz/index.php/GABJ/article/view/688
Sophie Lund Rasmussen, PhD thesis: The Danish Hedgehog Project: How Humans Influence Hedgehogs and How Hedgehogs May Affect Humans When Living Closely Together. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.18803.48167.
Sophie handling a juvenile European hedgehog which was ready for release into the wild after being hand-reared at a wildlife rehabilitation centre. Credits: Pia Burmøller Hansen
Juvenile European hedgehog. Credits: Pia Burmøller Hansen
Sophie counting the growth rings in a section from a hedgehog jaw to determine the age of the hedgehog. Credits: Thomas Degner