Habitat-specific distribution and abundance of arctic ground squirrels (urocitellus parryii plesius) in southwest yukon

Scott Donker, Charles Krebs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Arctic ground squirrels (Urocitellus parryii plesius (Osgood, 1900); formerly Spermophilus parryii plesius Osgood, 1900) were studied in three distinct habitat types (boreal forest, low-elevation meadows, and alpine meadows) in the Kluane region of the southwest Yukon Territory, Canada, from 2008 to 2010 to determine if populations in these different habitats provide evidence for habitat-specific distribution and abundance. Abundance in the boreal forest has been shown to be synchronous with the cycle of snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus Erxleben, 1777) in the region owing to shared predators. We predicted that populations in the boreal forest would be low because of the current low phase in the cycle of snowshoe hares, and that in low-altitude meadows and alpine meadows, ground squirrels would be relatively undant. Late-summer densities differed significantly between habitat types with 0.38 ± 0.13 squirrel/ha (mean ± 1 SE) in boreal-forest habitat, 1.25 ± 0.22 squirrel/ha in low-altitude-meadow habitat, and 5.7 ± 0.22 squirrels/ha in alpine-meadow habitat. In 2009, populations were extirpated from boreal-forest habitat, while densities in low-elevation meadows and alpine meadows were 1.6 ± 0.34 squirrel/ha and 6.1 ± 0.7 squirrels/ha, respectively. The current absence of squirrels from the boreal forest and the persistence of populations in low-elevation-meadow and alpine-meadow habitat suggest that source-sink dynamics may exist between boreal-forest and meadow habitat types.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)570-576
Number of pages7
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Volume89
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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Yukon Territory
squirrels
meadow
boreal forests
Arctic region
alpine meadows
meadows
boreal forest
habitat
habitats
Lepus americanus
forest habitats
habitat type
distribution
Spermophilus
source-sink dynamics
Canada
predators
persistence
summer

Cite this

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title = "Habitat-specific distribution and abundance of arctic ground squirrels (urocitellus parryii plesius) in southwest yukon",
abstract = "Arctic ground squirrels (Urocitellus parryii plesius (Osgood, 1900); formerly Spermophilus parryii plesius Osgood, 1900) were studied in three distinct habitat types (boreal forest, low-elevation meadows, and alpine meadows) in the Kluane region of the southwest Yukon Territory, Canada, from 2008 to 2010 to determine if populations in these different habitats provide evidence for habitat-specific distribution and abundance. Abundance in the boreal forest has been shown to be synchronous with the cycle of snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus Erxleben, 1777) in the region owing to shared predators. We predicted that populations in the boreal forest would be low because of the current low phase in the cycle of snowshoe hares, and that in low-altitude meadows and alpine meadows, ground squirrels would be relatively undant. Late-summer densities differed significantly between habitat types with 0.38 ± 0.13 squirrel/ha (mean ± 1 SE) in boreal-forest habitat, 1.25 ± 0.22 squirrel/ha in low-altitude-meadow habitat, and 5.7 ± 0.22 squirrels/ha in alpine-meadow habitat. In 2009, populations were extirpated from boreal-forest habitat, while densities in low-elevation meadows and alpine meadows were 1.6 ± 0.34 squirrel/ha and 6.1 ± 0.7 squirrels/ha, respectively. The current absence of squirrels from the boreal forest and the persistence of populations in low-elevation-meadow and alpine-meadow habitat suggest that source-sink dynamics may exist between boreal-forest and meadow habitat types.",
author = "Scott Donker and Charles Krebs",
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doi = "10.1139/z11-041",
language = "English",
volume = "89",
pages = "570--576",
journal = "Canadian Journal of Zoology",
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}

Habitat-specific distribution and abundance of arctic ground squirrels (urocitellus parryii plesius) in southwest yukon. / Donker, Scott; Krebs, Charles.

In: Canadian Journal of Zoology, Vol. 89, No. 6, 2011, p. 570-576.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

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AU - Donker, Scott

AU - Krebs, Charles

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AB - Arctic ground squirrels (Urocitellus parryii plesius (Osgood, 1900); formerly Spermophilus parryii plesius Osgood, 1900) were studied in three distinct habitat types (boreal forest, low-elevation meadows, and alpine meadows) in the Kluane region of the southwest Yukon Territory, Canada, from 2008 to 2010 to determine if populations in these different habitats provide evidence for habitat-specific distribution and abundance. Abundance in the boreal forest has been shown to be synchronous with the cycle of snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus Erxleben, 1777) in the region owing to shared predators. We predicted that populations in the boreal forest would be low because of the current low phase in the cycle of snowshoe hares, and that in low-altitude meadows and alpine meadows, ground squirrels would be relatively undant. Late-summer densities differed significantly between habitat types with 0.38 ± 0.13 squirrel/ha (mean ± 1 SE) in boreal-forest habitat, 1.25 ± 0.22 squirrel/ha in low-altitude-meadow habitat, and 5.7 ± 0.22 squirrels/ha in alpine-meadow habitat. In 2009, populations were extirpated from boreal-forest habitat, while densities in low-elevation meadows and alpine meadows were 1.6 ± 0.34 squirrel/ha and 6.1 ± 0.7 squirrels/ha, respectively. The current absence of squirrels from the boreal forest and the persistence of populations in low-elevation-meadow and alpine-meadow habitat suggest that source-sink dynamics may exist between boreal-forest and meadow habitat types.

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