The eastern gray squirrel [Sciurus carolinensis], eastern fox squirrel [Sciurus niger], and American red squirrel [Tamiasciurus hudsonicus] all inhabit the boreal forests of Michigan and share a direct relationship as competitors for the same resources. The food-hoarding behavior of these species due to their competition aids in forest regeneration and seed dispersal. The goal of this study is to evaluate and compare the daily activity patterns of three these species to determine if their activity patterns differ from one another. It is hypothesized that the daily activity patterns of these species will not differ. Data for this study was gathered from Snapshot USA’s tree-mounted motion detecting camera traps which were deployed from September 2019 to October 2019, each collecting 400 camera nights of effort. They are positioned 0.5 meters off the ground, 200 meters from other cameras, in regular orientation (facing north,) and without bait. A chi square test was used to determine whether the three species display activity that is significant to any of three activity pattern categories or if the null hypothesis, stating that the data is not significant to any category, should be accepted and thus the species is cathemeral. The resulting p value of < 0.0005 for all three species demonstrates that the data is significant to an activity pattern category and the null hypothesis is rejected. Histograms created from the gathered data suggest that all three squirrel species have diurnal tendencies and there is no significant difference between their activity patterns. Measuring and comparing the daily activity patterns of the eastern gray squirrel, eastern fox squirrel, and American red squirrel is important for better understanding how these species relate to one another, the composition of forests due to their competitive food-hoarding behaviors, and the ecological and evolutionary factors that drive these squirrels’ behavior.
Dr. Diana Lafferty
Faculty Advisor Email
Cash, Nicole M., "Daily Activity Patterns of Michigan Forest Squirrels" (2021). Celebration of Student Scholarship. 17.