Investigation of the Anthropogenic Effects on Sciurus niger Tree Squirrel Distribution and Abundance in Urban Residential Areas

Gabrielle Vinyard Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Carmen Salsbury Butler University
In this rapidly developing world, the relationship between humans and wildlife is becoming more strained. It is estimated that within less than 30 years, more than 50% of all humans will be concentrated in urban areas. Despite the challenges, some animals respond better than others to the additional pressures present in urban environments, such as altered and fragmented habitats, and squirrels are a prime example (McKinney, 2002). They are described as “urban adapters” and generalists because they capitalize on open areas near forests and can utilize the extra anthropogenic food sources (McCleery, 2009). Further research can provide additional information on the status of urban squirrel populations, and in turn, build a more comprehensive understanding of urban ecosystems and the anthropogenic effects on species living within them. Several studies have focused on the distribution and abundance of tree squirrels in urban landscapes, but more information is need to understand the connections between anthropogenic factors and population density, especially when considering food pressure (Shochat et al., 2006). This study was specifically built on the findings of previous research that examined leaf nest densities within residential neighborhoods and found a positive correlation between property value and nest density (Salsbury unpublished data). The biological explanation of this relationship was unclear, so a follow-up study was necessary to further investigate this connection. The potential anthropogenic effects on Sciurus niger tree squirrel distribution and abundance in urban residential areas was investigated using a combination of leaf nest surveys, observations of squirrel activity, and a citizen scientist questionnaire.
Oral Presentation

When & Where

11:00 AM
Gallahue Hall 101