Advertisement

Population Ecology

, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 527–536 | Cite as

Dispersal and habitat cuing of Eurasian red squirrels in fragmented habitats

  • Lucas Armand WautersEmail author
  • Goedele Verbeylen
  • Damiano Preatoni
  • Adriano Martinoli
  • Erik Matthysen
Original Article

Abstract

Animal dispersal and subsequent settlement is a key process in the life history of many organisms, when individuals use demographic and environmental cues to target post-dispersal habitats where fitness will be highest. To investigate the hypothesis that environmental disturbance (habitat fragmentation) may alter these cues, we compared dispersal patterns of 60 red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) in three study sites that differ in habitat composition and fragmentation. We determined dispersal distances, pre- and post-dispersal habitat types and survival using a combination of capture–mark–recapture, radio-tracking and genetic parentage assignment. Most (75%) squirrels emigrated from the natal home range with mean dispersal distance of 1,014 ± 925 m (range 51–4,118 m). There were no sex-related differences in dispersal patterns and no differences in average dispersal distance, and the proportion of dispersers did not differ between sites. In one of the sites, dispersers settled in patches where density was lower than in the natal patch. In the least fragmented site, 90% of animals settled in the natal habitat type (habitat cuing) against 44–54% in the more strongly fragmented sites. Overall, more squirrels settled in the natal habitat type than expected based on habitat availability, but this was mainly due to individuals remaining within the natal wood. In the highly fragmented landscape, habitat cuing among emigrants did not occur more frequently than expected. We concluded that increased habitat fragmentation seemed to reduce reliable cues for habitat choice, but that dispersing squirrels settled in patches with lower densities of same-sex animals than at the natal home range or patch, independent of degree of fragmentation.

Keywords

Dispersal distance Habitat quality Landscape composition Natal habitat-biased dispersal Parentage assignment Sciurus vulgaris 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank all forest owners for their permission to study squirrels on their estates. Constructive criticism by two anonymous referees greatly helped to improve the MS. This study was partly financed by VLINA-project 97.01 of the Flemish Ministry (ANIMAL) and by the European Community (EC-Step-0040 project). Capturing, handling and radio-tracking of squirrels was done in compliance with national regulations.

References

  1. Anderson PK (1989) Rodent dispersal. Spec Publ Am Soc Mammal 9:1–142Google Scholar
  2. Andrén H (1994) Effects of habitat fragmentation on birds and mammals in landscapes with different proportions of suitable habitat: a review. Oikos 71:355–363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bakker VJ, Van Vuren DH (2004) Gap-crossing decisions by the red squirrel, a forest-dependent small mammal. Conserv Biol 18:689–697CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Byrom AE (2002) Dispersal and survival of juvenile feral ferrets Mustela furo in New Zealand. J Appl Ecol 39:67–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Byrom AE, Krebs CJ (1999) Natal dispersal of juvenile arctic ground squirrels in the boreal forest. Can J Zool 78:1309–1319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clobert J, Danchin E, Dhondt AA, Nichols JD (2001) Dispersal. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  7. Clobert J, Gaillard JF, Cote J, Meylan S, Massot M (2009) Informed dispersal, heterogeneity in animal dispersal syndromes and the dynamics of spatially structured populations. Ecol Lett 12:197–209CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Coulon A, Fitzpatrick JW, Bowman R, Stith BM, Makarewich CA, Stenzler LM, Lovette IJ (2008) Congruent population structure inferred from dispersal behaviour and intensive genetic surveys of the threatened Florida scrub-jay (Aphelocoma cœrulescens). Mol Ecol 17:1685–1701CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Davis JM, Stamps JA (2004) The effect of natal experience on habitat preferences. Trends Ecol Evol 19:411–416CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Dobson FS, Jones WT (1985) Multiple causes of dispersal. Am Nat 126:855–858CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gaillard JM, Hewison AJM, Kjellander P, Pettorelli N, Bonenfant C, Van Moorter B, Liberg O, Andren H, Van Laere E, Klein F, Angibault JM, Coulon A, Vanpé C (2008) Population density and sex do not influence fine-scale natal dispersal in roe deer. Proc R Soc Lond B 275:2025–2030CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Garrett MG, Franklin WL (1988) Behavioral ecology of dispersal in the black-tailed prairie dogs. J Mammal 69:236–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Garshelis DL (2000) Delusions in habitat evaluation: measuring use, selection, and importance. In: Boitani L, Fuller TK (eds) Research techniques in animal ecology: controversies and consequences. Columbia University Press, New York, pp 111–164Google Scholar
  14. Greenwood PJ (1980) Mating system, philopatry and dispersal in birds and mammals. Anim Behav 28:1140–1162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hale ML, Bevan R, Wolff K (2001) New polymorphic microsatellite markers for the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) and their applicability to the grey squirrel (S. carolinensis). Mol Ecol Notes 1:47–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hanski IK, Selonen V (2009) Female-biased natal dispersal in the Siberian flying squirrel. Behav Ecol 20:60–67. doi: 10.1093/beheco/arn115 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Haughland DL, Larsen KW (2004a) Ecology of North American red squirrels across contrasting habitats: relating natal dispersal to habitat. J Mammal 85:225–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Haughland DL, Larsen KW (2004b) Exploration correlates with settlement: red squirrel dispersal in contrasting habitats. J Anim Ecol 73:1024–1034CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hosmer DW, Lemeshow S (1989) Applied logistic regression. Wiley, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Jenness J (2007) Nearest features (nearfeat.avx) estension for ArcView 3.x v. 3.8b. Jenness Enterprises. http://jennessent.com/arcview/nearest_features.htm
  21. Larsen KW, Boutin S (1994) Movements, survival, and settlement of red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) offspring. Ecology 75:214–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lima SL, Zollner PA (1996) Towards a behavioral ecology of ecological landscapes. Trends Ecol Evol 11:131–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Locey KJ, Stone PA (2008) Ontogenetic factors affecting diffusion dispersal in the introduced Mediterranean gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus. J Herpetol 42:593–599CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Marshall TC, Slate J, Kruuk LEB, Pemberton JM (1998) Statistical confidence for likelihood-based paternity inference in natural conditions. Mol Ecol 7:639–655CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Matthysen E (2005) Density-dependent dispersal in birds and mammals. Ecography 28:403–416CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Matthysen E, Currie D (1996) Habitat fragmentation reduces disperser success in juvenile nuthatches Sitta europaea: evidence from patterns of territory establishment. Ecography 19:67–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Matthysen E, Adriaensen F, Dhondt AA (1995) Dispersal distances of nuthatches, Sitta europaea, in a highly fragmented forest habitat. Oikos 72:375–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McGarigal K, Marks BJ (1994) Fragstats: spatial pattern analysis program for quantifying landscape structure. Version 2.0. Forest Science Department. Oregon State University, CorvallisGoogle Scholar
  29. Pulliam HR, Danielson BJ (1991) Sources, sinks, and habitat selection: a landscape perspective on population dynamics. Am Nat 137:S50–S66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Remeš V (2000) How can maladaptive habitat choice generate source–sink population dynamics? Oikos 91:579–582CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. SAS (1999) SAS/STAT user’s guide, version 8.2. SAS Institute, CaryGoogle Scholar
  32. Schiegg K, Daniels SJ, Walters JR, Priddy JA, Pasinelli G (2006) Inbreeding in red-cockaded woodpeckers: effects of natal dispersal distance and territory location. Biol Conserv 131:544–552. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2006.03.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schlaepfer MA, Runge MC, Sherman PW (2002) Ecological and evolutionary traps. Trends Ecol Evol 17:474–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Selonen V, Hanski IK, Desrochers A (2007) Natal habitat-biased dispersal in the Siberian flying squirrel. Proc R Soc Lond B 274:2063–2068CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sheperd BF, Swihart RK (1995) Spatial dynamics of fox squirrels (Sciurus niger) in fragmented landscapes. Can J Zool 73:2098–2105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Stamps JA (1987) The effect of familiarity with a neighborhood on territory acquisition. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 21:274–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Stenseth NC, Lidicker WZ (1992) Animal dispersal: small mammals as a model. Chapman & Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  38. Stuart-Smith AK, Boutin S (1995) Behavioral differences between surviving and depredated juvenile red squirrels. Ecoscience 2:34–40Google Scholar
  39. Szulkin M, Sheldon BC (2008) Dispersal as a means of inbreeding avoidance in a wild bird population. Proc R Soc Lond B 275:703–711. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2007.0989 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Todd R (2000) Microsatellite loci in the Eurasian red squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris L. Mol Ecol 9:2165–2166CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Travis JMJ, French DR (2000) Dispersal functions and spatial models: expanding our dispersal toolbox. Ecol Lett 3:163–165CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Trizio I, Crestanello B, Galbusera P, Wauters LA, Tosi G, Matthysen E, Hauffe HC (2005) Geographical distance and physical barriers shape the genetic structure of Eurasian red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) in the Italian Alps. Mol Ecol 14:469–481CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Turchin P (1998) Quantitative analysis of movement: measuring and modeling population redistribution in animals and plants. Sinauer, SunderlandGoogle Scholar
  44. Van Vuren D, Armitage KB (1994) Survival of dispersing and philopatric yellow-bellied marmots: what is the cost of dispersal? Oikos 69:179–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Verbeylen G, De Bruyn L, Mattysen E (2003) Patch occupancy, population density and dynamics in a fragmented red squirrel Sciurus vulgaris population. Ecography 26:118–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Verbeylen G, Wauters LA, De Bruyn L, Matthysen E (2009) Woodland fragmentation affect space use of Eurasian red squirrels. Acta Oecol 35:94–103. doi: 10.1016/j.actao.2008.08.005 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Vuilleumier S, Fontanillas P (2007) Landscape structure affects dispersal in the greater white-toothed shrew: inference between genetic and simulated ecological distances. Ecol Model 201:369–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wauters LA, Casale P (1996) Long-term scatterhoarding in the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris). J Zool 238:195–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Wauters LA, Dhondt AA (1992) Spacing behaviour of the red squirrel, Sciurus vulgaris: variation between habitats and the sexes. Anim Behav 43:297–311CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wauters LA, Dhondt AA (1993) Immigration patterns and success in red squirrels. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 33:159–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wauters LA, Dhondt AA (1995) Lifetime reproductive success and its correlates in female Eurasian red squirrels. Oikos 72:402–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wauters LA, De Vos R, Dhondt AA (1990) Factors affecting male mating success in red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris). Ethol Ecol Evol 2:195–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Wauters L, Hutchinson Y, Parkin DT, Dhondt AA (1994a) The effects of habitat fragmentation on demography and on the loss of genetic variation in the red squirrel. Proc R Soc Lond B 255:107–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Wauters L, Matthysen E, Dhondt AA (1994b) Survival and lifetime reproductive success in dispersing and resident red squirrels. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 34:197–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wauters LA, Casale P, Dhondt AA (1994c) Space use and dispersal of red squirrels in fragmented habitats. Oikos 69:140–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wauters LA, Lens L, Dhondt AA (1995) Variation in territory fidelity and territory shifts among red squirrels, Sciurus vulgaris, females. Anim Behav 49:187–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wauters LA, Matthysen E, Adriaensen F, Tosi G (2004) Within-sex density dependence and population dynamics of red squirrels Sciurus vulgaris. J Anim Ecol 73:11–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Wiens JA, Stenseth NC, Van Horne B, Ims RA (1993) Ecological mechanisms and landscape ecology. Oikos 66:369–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wolff JO (1994) More on juvenile dispersal in mammals. Oikos 71:349–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Society of Population Ecology and Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucas Armand Wauters
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Goedele Verbeylen
    • 2
    • 3
  • Damiano Preatoni
    • 1
  • Adriano Martinoli
    • 1
  • Erik Matthysen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Environment, Health and SafetyUniversity of InsubriaVareseItaly
  2. 2.Evolutionary Ecology Group, Deparment of BiologyUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  3. 3.Natuurpunt StudieMechelenBelgium

Personalised recommendations