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Tuesday, January 30 • 2:20pm - 2:40pm
SMALL MAMMALS: Nest Tree Use by Southern Flying Squirrels in Fragmented Midwestern Landscapes

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AUTHORS. Christopher N. Jacques, Western Illinois University; Robert W. Klaver, U.S. Geological Survey; James S. Zweep, Western Illinois University; Shelli A. Dubay, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

ABSTRACT. Southern flying squirrels (SFS; Glaucomys volans) nest in naturally–formed cavities in snags and hardwoods found in mature, undisturbed forests. Intensive forest fragmentation of the Midwest United States limits the number of available nesting trees. We studied annual nest site selection patterns of SFS across fragmented landscapes of west-central Illinois. We used radio telemetry to examine nest tree use by 55 SFS (30 males, 25 females) captured during 2014–2016. Of 105 nest trees used by SFS, live trees and snags comprised 75% and 25%, respectively. Probability of diurnal nest tree use increased 1.08 (odds ratio = 1.075, 95% CI = 1.045–1.1061)/1 cm increase in DBH and by 1.50 (odds ratio = 1.496, 95% CI = 1.138–1.966)/1 unit increase in the number of overstory mast trees between random and nest tree habitat areas (i.e., 300 m2 circular plots). Similarly, probability of diurnal nest tree use increased 1.29 (odds ratio = 1.289, 95% CI = 1.075–1.544)/1 unit increase in the number of snags between random and nest tree habitat areas. Our results revealed no intersexual differences in patterns of nest site selection, which may reflect the tendency for SFS to compensate for reduced availability of key structural attributes (i.e., snags, overstory trees) across fragmented forests by exhibiting similar intersexual patterns of nest tree use. Additionally, patterns of diurnal nest tree use revealed near exclusive use of natural cavities located primarily in live trees, which may be attributed to a propensity of SFS to select cavities with small entrances and avoid cavities that have been enlarged by other species. Use of natural cavities for denning is encouraging, but also underscores the importance of unharvested hardwood forests in contributing essential habitat to SFS populations in fragmented forested landscapes.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 2:20pm - 2:40pm CST