Date of Award

8-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Biology (M.S.)

Department

Biology

Abstract

Few studies have examined winter habitat selection for southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) in northern latitudes where winter conditions are harsher than southern latitudes and resource availability is particularly limiting. Winter den tree characteristics and use by 19 southern flying squirrels (10 females and 9 males) were investigated from November through February in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012. The mean home range size using 100% minimum convex polygon for 18 individuals was 3.40 ha (±0.46 0.46 SE) and there was no significant difference between genders (P= 0.56) or ages (P=0.50). The mean 95% fixed kernel home range size was 0.15 ha (±0.46 0.02 SE). The mean number of den trees used was 3.7 (±0.45 SE) over winter months. There were no significant differences detected between genders (P = 0.68) or ages (P = 0.69) for total number of den trees used. Individuals primarily selected sugar maple (Acer saccharum) as den trees over other tree species. Results indicated that den trees (n=26) were taller, had larger diameters and higher decay levels than other available trees in the immediate vicinity (n=52). Genetic relatedness of winter aggregations revealed low relatedness -0.22 (95%CI: ±0.17) and no evidence of southern flying squirrels preferentially nesting with kin was detected. Southern flying squirrels require mature stand characteristics during winter months and, late-successional forest conditions should be retained for the persistence of the species in its northern range. The study also provides baseline data for analyzing genetic relatedness of G.volans winter aggregations in the northern range of the species.

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Biology Commons

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