Presentation Title

Understanding the Survival and Success of Red Squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) in Kamloops Within the Context of Diet and Behavioural Energetics, Comparing the Past and Present

Format of Presentation

Poster to be presented the Friday of the conference

Abstract

Existing literature on Red Squirrels highlights quite extensively the ecology of how these animals make their living mostly as cone hoarders, but also through diet supplementation with fungal fruiting bodies among other things. This study is designed to see how this life strategy affects the maintenance of body condition and survival of Red Squirrels through winter in the Kamloops region. Success will be measured through body condition and survival. Primary body condition metrics will be body weight, coat condition, and post-zygomatic breadth (jaw width). I will utilize mark and recapture as a measure of survival, as the territorial nature of Red Squirrels results in a notedly high trap fidelity. I will determine what extent they are using fungi as supplemental food by analyzing feces for presence of fungal spores. I am also using radio-telemetry to analyze the daily behaviours of Red Squirrels throughout the winter to determine what may be driving these behaviours. This study also aims to determine if overwinter success has changed in the past two decades when compared to the results of an honours thesis completed in 1999.

I am currently still in the process of collecting and analyzing data and will be finished in the month of March. Current trends are showing mostly good success over winter with very little deviation in body weight and coat condition. Preliminary observations of fungal fruiting bodies located at squirrel middens are pointing to conclusive use of mycophagy to supplement primary food consumption of cones.

Department

Natural Resource Science

Faculty Advisor

Karl Larsen

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Understanding the Survival and Success of Red Squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) in Kamloops Within the Context of Diet and Behavioural Energetics, Comparing the Past and Present

Existing literature on Red Squirrels highlights quite extensively the ecology of how these animals make their living mostly as cone hoarders, but also through diet supplementation with fungal fruiting bodies among other things. This study is designed to see how this life strategy affects the maintenance of body condition and survival of Red Squirrels through winter in the Kamloops region. Success will be measured through body condition and survival. Primary body condition metrics will be body weight, coat condition, and post-zygomatic breadth (jaw width). I will utilize mark and recapture as a measure of survival, as the territorial nature of Red Squirrels results in a notedly high trap fidelity. I will determine what extent they are using fungi as supplemental food by analyzing feces for presence of fungal spores. I am also using radio-telemetry to analyze the daily behaviours of Red Squirrels throughout the winter to determine what may be driving these behaviours. This study also aims to determine if overwinter success has changed in the past two decades when compared to the results of an honours thesis completed in 1999.

I am currently still in the process of collecting and analyzing data and will be finished in the month of March. Current trends are showing mostly good success over winter with very little deviation in body weight and coat condition. Preliminary observations of fungal fruiting bodies located at squirrel middens are pointing to conclusive use of mycophagy to supplement primary food consumption of cones.