Sheila Miara ACF Abstract FY12

"Winter habitat characteristics and behavior of southern flying squirrels in Southwest Michigan"

Conference Name: 18th Annual Conference of the Wildlife Society

Miara, Sheila (primary author); Colyer, Andrew; Keenlance, Paul; Jacquot, Joseph; Larsen, Angela; Canaan, Melissa

Although southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) are present throughout the Great Lakes region, there are limited studies on the winter ecology and behavior of this species. The objective of this study is to describe winter activity patterns and habitat characteristics for a population of southern flying squirrels in Southwest Michigan. This study specifically examines (1) home range size and microhabitat attributes, (2) group dynamics and relatedness, and (3) characteristics of den tree selection. Flying squirrels were captured using live-traps from October-November, 2010 and monitored daily from November, 2010-February, 2011 using radiotelemetry techniques. Den trees were located daily to determine exact dates of movement to different trees by squirrels. Samples of DNA were derived from ear tissue and epithelial cells. A total of 13 squirrels (6 males, 7 females) were monitored from October 2010 through March 2011. A total of 19 den trees were identified. Preliminary results suggest that squirrels used an average of 3.53 den trees throughout the winter. Den trees had an average DBH of 48.58in and were predominately sugar maple (Acer saccharum). Den trees for males and females averaged 3.17 and 4.57, respectively. Home range size of males and females averaged, 2.2 + 0.41 and 1.99 + 0.18ha, respectively and were calculated using minimum convex polygon. Findings of this study should demonstrate seasonal differences in the ecology and behavior of southern flying squirrels in their northern range during winter months. Furthermore, the information gathered may be useful in managing forested habitats where this species persists.