Squirrel Populations (squirrel + population)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Patch occupancy, population density and dynamics in a fragmented red squirrel Sciurusvulgaris population

ECOGRAPHY, Issue 1 2003
Goedele Verbeylen
We studied population dynamics of red squirrels in a group of small forest fragments, that cover only 6.5% of the total study area (4664 ha) and where distances to the nearest source population were up to 2.2 km. We tested effects of patch size, quality and isolation and supplementary feeding on patch occupation during 1995,99. Larger patches and patches with supplementary feeding had a higher probability of being occupied. No patch <3.5 ha was ever occupied. No effects of isolation were found, suggesting that the forest habitat in the study area is not sufficiently fragmented to influence red squirrel distribution across patches. For medium sized patches (3.7,21 ha), that were occupied some years, there was an increase in patch occupation over the years, even though overall population size tended to decrease. These patches had a high turnover, especially of males. Patches in which the squirrel population went extinct were recolonized within a year. For patches that were at least some years occupied, squirrel density depended on patch quality only. No effects of patch size, isolation and winter temperature on population density were found. These data suggest that in our study area habitat fragmentation has no effect on local squirrel density and that the random sample hypothesis explains the distribution pattern across patches. [source]

Being high is better: effects of elevation and habitat on arctic ground squirrel demography

OIKOS, Issue 2 2005
Elizabeth A. Gillis
We investigated the effect of local environment on the demography and population dynamics of arctic ground squirrels (Spermophilus parryii plesius) by comparing reproduction, survival, and population trends of squirrels living in low elevation boreal forest and high elevation alpine tundra sites in southwestern Yukon Territory, Canada. Contrary to the trend for most birds and mammals, reproduction was significantly lower at the lower elevation and females living at higher elevation did not delay the age at which they first reproduced. Even though survival in the boreal forest was lower in summer than in the alpine, it was higher over winter so annual adult female survival was similar between sites. Sensitivity analysis of model parameters revealed that in the forest, population growth rate (,) was most sensitive to small changes in adult active season survival whereas for the alpine population, , was most sensitive to changes in juvenile winter survival. In their respective habitats, these parameters also showed high year to year variation and thus contributed greatly to the population trends observed. Even though ground squirrels persisted in the boreal forest, the measured demographic rates indicate the forest was sink habitat (,<1) and may have relied on nearby grassy meadows for immigrants. In contrast, the alpine habitat maintained a ground squirrel population in the absence of immigration (,=1). The variation in demographic rates between ground squirrels living at high and low elevation may arise from phenotypic responses of squirrels to different habitat structure. Arctic ground squirrels rely on sight to detect predators from a safe distance, and the boreal forest, with its lower visibility and higher predator density, appears to be suboptimal habitat. [source]

Contrasting seasonal dynamics in fleas of the Siberian flying squirrel (Pteromys volans) in Finland

Abstract 1.,The seasonal and spatial variation of the adult flea fauna (Siphonaptera) was examined in connection with live-trapping studies of the Siberian flying squirrel (Pteromys volans) in three study areas in southern Finland between 1997 and 2005. 2.,The numerically dominant flea species of the Siberian flying squirrel were Tarsopsylla octodecimdentata octodecimdentata and Ceratophyllus (Monopsyllus) indages indages (Ceratophyllidae); the latter being a host specialist of the Siberian flying squirrel. Tarsopsylla octodecimdentata, which also commonly occurs on the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), infected a large proportion of the host population throughout the winter, whereas C. indages occurred predominantly during the summer and autumn, being practically the only flea species in nests during the flying squirrels' breeding season and on juveniles still inhabiting their natal nest. 3.,The use of nest boxes by flying squirrels did not have any positive effects on flea populations, but it may have had a negative impact on T. octodecimdentata. 4.,The potentially vulnerable C. i. indages is a predictable, widespread component in the flea fauna of the Siberian flying squirrel at various spatial scales, and it is likely to occur in most of the permanent flying squirrel populations in Finland. [source]

Using GIS to relate small mammal abundance and landscape structure at multiple spatial extents: the northern flying squirrel in Alberta, Canada

Summary 1It is common practice to evaluate the potential effects of management scenarios on animal populations using geographical information systems (GIS) that relate proximate landscape structure or general habitat types to indices of animal abundance. Implicit in this approach is that the animal population responds to landscape features at the spatial grain and extent represented in available digital map inventories. 2The northern flying squirrel Glaucomys sabrinus is of particular interest in North American forest management because it is known from the Pacific North-West as a habitat specialist, a keystone species of old-growth coniferous forest and an important disperser of hypogeous, mycorrhizal fungal spores. Using a GIS approach we tested whether the relative abundance of flying squirrel in northern Alberta, Canada, is related to old forest, conifer forest and relevant landscape features as quantified from management-based digital forest inventories. 3We related squirrel abundance, estimated through live trapping, to habitat type (forest composition: conifer, mixed-wood and deciduous) and landscape structure (stand height, stand age, stand heterogeneity and anthropogenic disturbance) at three spatial extents (50 m, 150 m and 300 m) around each site. 4Relative abundances of northern flying squirrel populations in northern and western Alberta were similar to those previously reported from other regions of North America. Capture rates were variable among sites, but showed no trends with respect to year or provincial natural region (foothills vs. boreal). 5Average flying squirrel abundance was similar in all habitats, with increased values within mixed-wood stands at large spatial extents (300 m) and within deciduous-dominated stands at smaller spatial extents (50 m). No relationship was found between squirrel abundance and conifer composition or stand age at any spatial extent. 6None of the landscape variables calculated from GIS forest inventories predicted squirrel abundance at the 50-m or 150-m spatial extents. However, at the 300-m spatial extent we found a negative, significant relationship between average stand height and squirrel abundance. 7Synthesis and applications. Boreal and foothill populations of northern flying squirrel in Canada appear unrelated to landscape composition at the relatively large spatial resolutions characteristic of resource inventory data commonly used for management and planning in these regions. Flying squirrel populations do not appear clearly associated with old-aged or conifer forests; rather, they appear as habitat generalists. This study suggests that northern, interior populations of northern flying squirrel are probably more related to stand-level components of forest structure, such as food, microclimate (e.g. moisture) and understorey complexity, variables not commonly available in large-scale digital map inventories. We conclude that the available digital habitat data potentially exclude relevant, spatially dependent information and could be used inappropriately for predicting the abundance of some species in management decision making. [source]

Can niche use in red and grey squirrels offer clues for their apparent coexistence?

Jenny Bryce
Summary 1Introduced species are, world-wide, one of the most serious threats to biodiversity. Grey squirrels Sciurus carolinensis are one of many introduced species to have threatened a native congener; they are thought to have replaced red squirrels Sciurus vulgaris throughout much of the UK as a result of competition. The rate of competitive replacement may be influenced by habitat composition, with some red squirrel populations persisting for prolonged periods in the presence of greys in predominantly coniferous forest. 2Here the similarity of red and grey squirrels' pattern of habitat use was investigated in Craigvinean forest in Scotland, UK, a site that has experienced apparent coexistence for up to 30 years. Overlap was examined in several dimensions: spatial overlap of home ranges, dynamic association and niche overlap. Habitat selection was examined at three levels: selection of core home range areas, selection of tree species within the home range, and the characteristics of patches used intensively by each squirrel species in comparison with random locations within their home range. 3Although there was overlap between red and grey squirrel ranges, there were clear differences in the macrohabitats utilized, with red squirrels selecting areas of Norway spruce Picea abies and grey squirrels selecting riparian corridors of mixed woodland for their home ranges. Within their home ranges, habitat selection by individual red and grey squirrels was similar, but again with reds selecting Norway spruce and greys selecting patches of mixed conifers and broad-leaved trees. As no habitat variables consistently affected the microdistribution of red and grey squirrels within blocks or ,stands' of trees, stands that were used were thought to constitute good and relatively homogeneous habitats for squirrels of either species. 4There was no evidence to suggest that red and grey squirrels avoided using the same areas at the same time, and potential niche overlap was considerable (077). However, partitioning of habitats may have reduced competition between red and grey squirrels and hence have contributed to red squirrel persistence at this site. 5This work (i) reinforces earlier proposals that forest management offers a promising tool to assist the conservation of red squirrels; (ii) raises the issue of determining the spatial scale at which coexistence operates; and (iii) offers an illustration of how the management of invasive species can be mediated through the manipulation of niche availability. [source]

Modelling the spatial dynamics of parapoxvirus disease in red and grey squirrels: a possible cause of the decline in the red squirrel in the UK?

S.P. Rushton
Summary 1. ,A stochastic individual-based model for simulating the dynamics of an infectious disease in sympatric red and grey squirrel populations is described. The model simulates the spread of parapoxvirus between squirrels in fragmented populations based on the dispersal of infected animals, the probability of encounters between individuals, exposure to the virus and subsequent mortality. 2. ,The disease model was integrated with a spatially explicit population dynamics model that simulated red and grey squirrel populations in real landscapes, using habitat information held in a geographical information system. Latin hypercube sampling was used to create a range of realistic life-history and infection scenarios and the model was used to investigate the dynamics of red and grey squirrels in Norfolk between 1966 and 1980. 3. ,The model predicted that parapoxvirus, like interspecific competition, could have led to the extinction of the red squirrel in Norfolk. The results suggest that the red squirrel,grey squirrel,parapoxvirus interaction represents a system of apparent competition mediated by an infectious agent, as seen in other interactions between resident and exotic species. 4. ,The need for further epidemiological research on the virus is emphasized. We believe that the combined effects on disease transmission of habitat, behaviour and grey squirrels acting as reservoir hosts will lead to a patchy prevalence and sporadic incidence of parapoxvirus disease in red squirrels and a more rapid local replacement by grey squirrels. 5. ,These results have implications for conservation management of the red squirrel in the UK. Schemes in which animals are translocated or given supplementary feeding may enhance disease spread by bringing infected animals into contact with others. [source]