An examination of the habitat requirements of the endangered Virginia northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus) by assessing nesting sites, habitat use and the development of a habitat model.
Date of Graduation
Little is known about nest tree use of the endangered Virginia northern flying squirrel. I compared characteristics of nest trees used by Virginia northern flying squirrels with randomly selected trees during summer and fall of 2000 and 2001. I tracked 13 squirrels to 59 nest trees. Sixty-nine percent of the nests were in cavities and 31% were leaf nests. Yellow birch, black birch and American beech were selected for nest trees more than expected. Nest trees were in larger and taller trees than trees in the surrounding area. There were a significant number of trees located near skidder and hiking trails. Although a large number of nest trees were similar across sites, there was variation in the characteristics of nest trees used, suggesting that Virginia northern flying squirrels may not be as specialized in nest tree selection as indicated by previous studies. Northern flying squirrels have long been associated with boreal conifer forests. No studies have quantitatively examined habitat use of the Virginia northern flying squirrel in West Virginia to determine how important high elevation forests are to the survival of this endangered subspecies. I used radiotelemetry and GIS analysis to determine the home range size and habitats utilized by northern flying squirrels at three spatial scales in West Virginia. Male squirrels had a mean home-range size of 64.1 ha using the adaptive kernal method and 66.8 ha using the minimal convex polygon method. Female squirrels had a mean home-range size of 17.0 ha using the adaptive kernal method and 17.6 ha using the minimal convex polygon method. Using compositional analysis, I determined that in West Virginia, northern flying squirrels prefer spruce, cherry-yellow-poplar and spruce-mixed hardwood forests. I developed a GIS-based habitat model for the Virginia northern flying squirrel in West Virginia using habitat relations of the squirrel to model habitat in West Virginia. These characteristics were obtained from radiocollared squirrels. Characteristics that were significant in predicting the presence of northern flying squirrels included: (1) elevation over 1036 meters, (2) northern aspects, and (3) spruce and mixed hardwood spruce stands. These characteristics were used to build a habitat model that attempts to describe areas of optimal Virginia northern flying squirrel habitat in West Virginia.
Menzel, Jennifer M., "An examination of the habitat requirements of the endangered Virginia northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus) by assessing nesting sites, habitat use and the development of a habitat model." (2003). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9411.