Does caching strategy vary with microclimate in endangered Mt. Graham red squirrels?

Calebe Pereira Mendes, John Koprowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Food hoarding is a common behavior used by a variety of animals to cope with periods of low food availability. At the retreating edge of species’ distribution, the stressful environment and unfavourable climate conditions may impose severe costs on hoarding behavior. Since relict populations are hotspots for evolution and adaptation, and considering that food hoarding behavior has a strong evolutionary basis, we decided to evaluate the occurrence of behavioral variability in the amount of food cached by the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel (Tamiasciurus fremonti grahamensis). We tested the variation in cache size in response to microclimate, soil relief, vegetation, food availability and squirrel sex. The number of pits excavated by squirrels to cache cones was used as a proxy of cache size and was affected by mountain slope aspect and density of trees. More pits were excavated in the northeast facing slopes. The density of trees negatively affects the cache volume on southwest slopes, but not on northeast slopes. The sex of the resident squirrel also affects the number of pits in the squirrel midden, with males excavating 47% more pits than females. Males and females also presented different responses to the mountain slope aspect, with females excavating more pits on northeastern slopes than on southwestern slopes, whereas male cache size did not vary with the slope aspect. Finally, the squirrel’s caching behavior did not vary in response to midden microclimate variation, a result with possible implications for the survival of the Mt Graham red squirrels, given the predicted temperature increases in the region due to climate change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0224947
JournalPloS one
Volume14
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Fingerprint

Microclimate
Sciuridae
squirrels
microclimate
Food
food availability
Tamiasciurus
mountains
Availability
seed cones
gender
Climate Change
Proxy
Climate
Climate change
Cones
Animals
Soil
biogeography
climate change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Cite this

Does caching strategy vary with microclimate in endangered Mt. Graham red squirrels? / Mendes, Calebe Pereira; Koprowski, John.

In: PloS one, Vol. 14, No. 11, e0224947, 01.01.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{5704c4dab9af48b1ae42d5cdb6446017,
title = "Does caching strategy vary with microclimate in endangered Mt. Graham red squirrels?",
abstract = "Food hoarding is a common behavior used by a variety of animals to cope with periods of low food availability. At the retreating edge of species’ distribution, the stressful environment and unfavourable climate conditions may impose severe costs on hoarding behavior. Since relict populations are hotspots for evolution and adaptation, and considering that food hoarding behavior has a strong evolutionary basis, we decided to evaluate the occurrence of behavioral variability in the amount of food cached by the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel (Tamiasciurus fremonti grahamensis). We tested the variation in cache size in response to microclimate, soil relief, vegetation, food availability and squirrel sex. The number of pits excavated by squirrels to cache cones was used as a proxy of cache size and was affected by mountain slope aspect and density of trees. More pits were excavated in the northeast facing slopes. The density of trees negatively affects the cache volume on southwest slopes, but not on northeast slopes. The sex of the resident squirrel also affects the number of pits in the squirrel midden, with males excavating 47{\%} more pits than females. Males and females also presented different responses to the mountain slope aspect, with females excavating more pits on northeastern slopes than on southwestern slopes, whereas male cache size did not vary with the slope aspect. Finally, the squirrel’s caching behavior did not vary in response to midden microclimate variation, a result with possible implications for the survival of the Mt Graham red squirrels, given the predicted temperature increases in the region due to climate change.",
author = "Mendes, {Calebe Pereira} and John Koprowski",
year = "2019",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1371/journal.pone.0224947",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "14",
journal = "PLoS One",
issn = "1932-6203",
publisher = "Public Library of Science",
number = "11",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Does caching strategy vary with microclimate in endangered Mt. Graham red squirrels?

AU - Mendes, Calebe Pereira

AU - Koprowski, John

PY - 2019/1/1

Y1 - 2019/1/1

N2 - Food hoarding is a common behavior used by a variety of animals to cope with periods of low food availability. At the retreating edge of species’ distribution, the stressful environment and unfavourable climate conditions may impose severe costs on hoarding behavior. Since relict populations are hotspots for evolution and adaptation, and considering that food hoarding behavior has a strong evolutionary basis, we decided to evaluate the occurrence of behavioral variability in the amount of food cached by the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel (Tamiasciurus fremonti grahamensis). We tested the variation in cache size in response to microclimate, soil relief, vegetation, food availability and squirrel sex. The number of pits excavated by squirrels to cache cones was used as a proxy of cache size and was affected by mountain slope aspect and density of trees. More pits were excavated in the northeast facing slopes. The density of trees negatively affects the cache volume on southwest slopes, but not on northeast slopes. The sex of the resident squirrel also affects the number of pits in the squirrel midden, with males excavating 47% more pits than females. Males and females also presented different responses to the mountain slope aspect, with females excavating more pits on northeastern slopes than on southwestern slopes, whereas male cache size did not vary with the slope aspect. Finally, the squirrel’s caching behavior did not vary in response to midden microclimate variation, a result with possible implications for the survival of the Mt Graham red squirrels, given the predicted temperature increases in the region due to climate change.

AB - Food hoarding is a common behavior used by a variety of animals to cope with periods of low food availability. At the retreating edge of species’ distribution, the stressful environment and unfavourable climate conditions may impose severe costs on hoarding behavior. Since relict populations are hotspots for evolution and adaptation, and considering that food hoarding behavior has a strong evolutionary basis, we decided to evaluate the occurrence of behavioral variability in the amount of food cached by the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel (Tamiasciurus fremonti grahamensis). We tested the variation in cache size in response to microclimate, soil relief, vegetation, food availability and squirrel sex. The number of pits excavated by squirrels to cache cones was used as a proxy of cache size and was affected by mountain slope aspect and density of trees. More pits were excavated in the northeast facing slopes. The density of trees negatively affects the cache volume on southwest slopes, but not on northeast slopes. The sex of the resident squirrel also affects the number of pits in the squirrel midden, with males excavating 47% more pits than females. Males and females also presented different responses to the mountain slope aspect, with females excavating more pits on northeastern slopes than on southwestern slopes, whereas male cache size did not vary with the slope aspect. Finally, the squirrel’s caching behavior did not vary in response to midden microclimate variation, a result with possible implications for the survival of the Mt Graham red squirrels, given the predicted temperature increases in the region due to climate change.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85074878055&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85074878055&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1371/journal.pone.0224947

DO - 10.1371/journal.pone.0224947

M3 - Article

C2 - 31714949

AN - SCOPUS:85074878055

VL - 14

JO - PLoS One

JF - PLoS One

SN - 1932-6203

IS - 11

M1 - e0224947

ER -