Tamara Hillman

Impacts of timber harvest on Southern Flying Squirrel survival and habitat use

The Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans) (hereby after SFS) is a small, nocturnal, cavity nesting mammal commonly found in forests of the Eastern United States. Because this species requires mature trees and abundant mast, timber harvest can severely degrade SFS habitat and survival. The goal of this project is to investigate the impacts of a timber harvest on a SFS population in the Manistee National Forest of west central Michigan. The objectives are to determine habitat use, home range size and survival rates of radio collared SFS before harvest, determine the mortality rate of SFS caused by timber harvest, document dispersal distance and dispersal path characteristics of SFS leaving the area of timber harvest, and compare habitat use, home range size and survival of SFS which have relocated after harvest. The project began with establishing a study site in the Manistee National Forest which contained suitable SFS habitat, and was also scheduled to undergo timber harvest at some point during the summer. Live traps were attached to trees and baited to attract SFS in order to capture, ear tag, and fit with radio collars. To date we have four SFS fitted with collars and are working to track them during the day to find resting site locations, as well as at night to characterize habitat use during foraging. The goal is to have at least ten SFS fitted with radio collars by the time of the harvest, during which the squirrels will be monitored 24 hours per day and located every 30 minutes to confirm survival and document dispersal path. Dispersal paths will then be analyzed for habitat characteristics, and principle results will aim to include SFS home range size, survival and mortality rates, and dispersal distance and patterns. The results of this project will increase our understanding of the impacts of timber harvest on Southern Flying Squirrels, and in the future, promote the use of ecologically sound forest management practices.

Faculty Mentors: Paul Keenlance, Biology; Joe Jacquot, Biology

UPDATE:

Tamara presented at the Wildlife Society's 17th Annual Conference October 2-6, 2010 in Snowbird, UT.

Page last modified January 21, 2011