Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Southern Flying Squirrels Do Not Read Literature: Over Wintering Non-Aggregation




College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Winter ecology of any species is generally less well known than summer ecology for practical reasons. Over the winter of 2010-2011 we radio collared 15 southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) in southwest Michigan. One research goal was to better understand the dynamics of SFS over wintering social behavior (i.e., communal nesting). Den sites were identified almost every day from November through February (i.e., 108 of 121 possible days). Contrary to past reports of SFS forming large winter aggregations we found it most common for spatially close individuals to select individual den sites during this timeframe (440/661 observations, 67%). Mean group size was 1.59 ± 0.02 (se) squirrels. The largest group sizes noted were five and six individuals, however throughout the four month monitoring period these were documented 9 and 5 times, respectively (combined < 2% of observations). Individual squirrels switched nests periodically duri ng winter, occupying 3.47 ± 0.60 (se) different den sites over the four month monitoring period (range 1 8). Although all 15 individuals were in close spatial proximity (i.e., all were captured within a 100 m radius) we can not guarantee all local squirrels were captured, so our estimates should be interpreted conservatively. Our results suggest the over wintering social behavior of SFS is more dynamic and variable than previously recognized.

Conference Name

The 92nd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists

Conference Location

Reno, Nevada

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