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|Title: ||Why are arctic ground squirrels more stressed in the boreal forest than in alpine meadows?|
|Authors: ||Hik, David S.|
McColl, Carolyn J.
|Keywords: ||Arctic ground squirrels|
|Issue Date: ||2001|
|Citation: ||ÉcoSCIENCE 8 (3) : 275-288 (2001)|
|Abstract: ||Arctic ground squirrels (Spermophilus parryii plesius Richardson) in the southeastern Yukon live in both boreal
forest and alpine tundra habitats. We live-trapped young male and female squirrels in both habitat types and subjected them
to a standardized hormonal-challenge protocol to assess the responsiveness of their hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
Alpine squirrels had levels of free cortisol at the baseline (initial) bleed following their removal from traps that were 3 times
higher in males and 5 times higher in females compared with boreal forest squirrels. Females, but not males, from the boreal
forest were dexamethasone resistant, while neither sex from the alpine habitat was resistant. Free cortisol in alpine squirrels
also responded more dramatically after the injection of adrenocorticotropic hormone. Corticosteroid-binding globulin levels
were significantly lower in forest than alpine squirrels and these levels were not markedly affected by the challenge protocol.
Glucose levels were significantly higher in boreal than alpine squirrels and the pattern differed between the two sites in
response to the protocol. Hematocrits were significantly higher in alpine squirrels. Collectively, this evidence suggests that
Arctic ground squirrels were more chronically stressed in the boreal forest than in the alpine meadows. The most likely
explanation for our results is higher predation risk in the forest compared with alpine meadows, as forage availability and
population density were not significantly different between the two habitats.|
|Appears in Collections:||Biology|
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