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May 2, 2014 - Urban Ecosyst (2014) 17:969–978. DOI 10.1007/s11252-014-0371-2. T. S. Parker (*). Ecological Research Center, The University of Memphis, ...

Urban Ecosyst (2014) 17:969–978 DOI 10.1007/s11252-014-0371-2

Seasonal comparisons of daily activity budgets of gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) in urban areas Tommy S. Parker & Shinelle K. Gonzales & Charles H. Nilon

Published online: 2 May 2014 # Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Abstract Gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) use trees for various resource needs in urban and nonurban settings; particularly, mast producing trees which are the preferred and supplemental foods for the species. During periods of abundant mast availability, less time will be invested in foraging because of the higher success rate stemming from the increased ability to locate food items. Conversely, in periods of reduced mast availability, more time will be invested in foraging. However, correlations between food availability and foraging effort are only supported under the assumption that gray squirrels rely significantly on mast as a preferred or supplemental food source (Nixon et al, J Wildl Manag 39:1–25, 1975). Therefore, given the seasonal variation in the availability of mast, there should also be correlating seasonal variations in foraging effort. In this paper, we will examine daily and seasonal time-activity budgets of gray squirrels in urban areas. We studied the time-activity budgets of gray squirrels in six urban parks in Baltimore, MD. Seasonal frequencies of activities were expressed as percent occurrence and seasonal differences in activities were analyzed using a Tukey Studentized multiple range test for significance. We found that the activity with highest percent occurrence was forage (2003, summer: 23.8 %, fall: 25.9 %; 2004, summer: 23.1 %, fall: 25.2 %), followed by feed and store, all activities associated with food. Results of the Tukey Studentized multiple range test for seasonal differences of activities yielded significant results (P

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