Nesting Behaviour of Abert Squirrels (Sciurus aberti)

Authors

  • Margaret E. Halloran,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder
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      Halloran, M. E. & Bekoff, M. 1994: Nesting behaviour of Abert squirrels (Sciurus aberti). Ethology 97, 236–248.

  • Marc Bekoff

    1. Department of Environmental, Population, and Organismic Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder
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    • 3

      Halloran, M. E. & Bekoff, M. 1994: Nesting behaviour of Abert squirrels (Sciurus aberti). Ethology 97, 236–248.


Department of EPO - Biology, Campus Box 334, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309–0334, USA.

Abstract

Nesting behaviour of Abert squirrels (Sciurus aberti), including site selection and use, was studied in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder County, Colorado. Only females were observed building nests, although both males and females maintained nests once they were built. Communal nesting by Abert squirrels was rare, but the majority of observed nest sharings involved unrelated male and female pairs. A total of 14 variables were used to evaluate the nests (n = 49) inhabited by Abert squirrels from May 1988 to Jun. 1991. All nests were located in Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) trees. The majority of nests were constructed of twigs and located in the upper one-third of the canopy, near the trunk, on the south-east side of the tree. Trees with nests were predominantly located in closed stands. Nest trees, when compared with unused control trees that were equally accessible to squirrels, were significantly different from control trees in five of nine variables. Nest tree crowns intertwined with a larger number of adjacent tree crowns than did control tree crowns. Nest trees were also significantly taller than control trees, but subdominant to adjacent trees within a stand. Seasonal and diurnal patterns of nest use indicate that Abert squirrels do not choose nest locations on the south-east sides of trees to facilitate behavioural thermoregulation. Rather, Abert squirrels select nest site locations to (1) maximize accessibility and (2) maximize structural stability which may provide protection from wind and rain.

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