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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/470

Title: The impact of predation on burrow use by arctic ground squirrels in the boreal forest
Authors: Karels, Tim
Boonstra, Rudy
Keywords: Arctic ground squirrels; burrow; boreal forest; predation; habitat use; discriminant function analysis
Issue Date: 1999
Publisher: The Royal Society
Citation: Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B (1999) 266. 2117-2123
Abstract: In sedentary animals, the choice of a suitable home site is critical to survival and reproductive fitness. However, habitat suitability may vary with predation risk. We compared habitat use of Arctic ground squirrels (Spermophilus parryii plesius) living in the boreal forest under conditions of fluctuating predation pressure. In our study area, predators show ten-year cycles in numbers that track that of their primary prey, the snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus). In 1993, we compared burrows that continued to be occupied following the period of intense predation during the hare decline of 1990 to 1992 with those that became vacant, and with random locations. We contrasted these sites to those in a predator exclosure where predation pressure was minimized. Burrows on control sites were located on sloped sites with high visibility. Burrows that remained occupied during the period of intense predation were more likely to be in open areas with fewer fallen trees than burrows that became vacant. We used discriminant functions derived from the control sites and found that 89% of the burrows on the predator exclosure were classified as being similar to the random locations on control sites. We conclude that the distribution of Arctic ground squirrels in the boreal forest is a direct function of predator presence.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/470
Appears in Collections:Biology

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