Comparative Ontogeny of Behaviour in Four Species of Squirrels (Sciuridae)


Dèpartement des Sciences Pures (Biologie), Université du Québec à Rimouski, 300 Ave des Ursulines, Rimouski, Québec, Canada G5L 3A1.


The development of behaviour in four species of Sciurid rodents, having terrestrial, arboreal and gliding way of life, is quantified and compared. The studied species are: Spermophilus columbianus, Spermophilus lateralis, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus and Glaucomys sabrinus. For each behaviour pattern, the earliest and latest age of emergence is given along with a mean calculated for a series of young of each species. The development of locomotion, feeding, comfort, alertness, exploration, nest building and social behaviour and the principal events of physical development are analysed. The discussion shows that the specific differences in ontogenetic rate are controlled by a series of factors including predation pressure, hibernation and the specific complexity of locomotion.