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Seasonal habitat use in Eurasian red squirrels residing in Iberian hedgerows

Hystrix-Italian Journal of Mammalogy

Abstract

Hedgerows are considered habitat corridors for Eurasian red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris). However, in north Iberia, a red squirrel population resides in hedgerows separating meadows. This study assesses seasonal microhabitat selection in this peculiar squirrel population. The detection rate was higher in winter and autumn than in spring and summer because of the confluence of different biological and environmental factors. Red squirrels were mainly arboreal, though they used the ground to some degree throughout the year. The height at which individuals were seen in shrubs/trees was maximum in spring related to intensive use of high poplars. A seasonal variation in plant selection was found. Red squirrels selected oaks, ivy and poplars positively in winter, poplars, ashes and willows in spring, hazels, wild cherries and willows in summer, and hazels, ashes and willows in autumn, linked with shelter, nest-site and food requirements. Conservation of dense hedgerow networks with a high diversity of shrub and tree species is encouraged.

Author(s): Hernandez, A

Journal: Hystrix-Italian Journal of Mammalogy

Year: 2014

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