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Winter ecology of the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris L.) in northeastern Lapland

Erkki Pulliainen
Annales Zoologici Fennici
Vol. 10, No. 4 (1973), pp. 487-494
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23731714
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Winter ecology of the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris L.) in northeastern Lapland
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Abstract

In the winters of 1968/69 - 1972/73, the ecology of the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris L.) was studied in the Värriötunturi fell terrain, northeastern Finnish Lapland. A transect survey indicated that the density of the population fluctuated irregularly. No evidence of irregular migrations of squirrels was obtained. Most of the squirrel tracks were recorded in mixed or pure spruce forests. Of the 74 squirrels' nests studied, 42 % were on Scots pines and 58 % on spruces. On pines 87 % of the nests were between 6 and 18 m, and on spruces 84 % between 3.5 and 8 m above the ground. 97 % of the nests were against the main trunk. 77 % of them were on the southeastern, southern and southwestern sides of the trunks. Beard moss and small pieces of branches and shoots of conifers were the main building material. After a warming phase of 10 - 30 minutes squirrels could maintain a nest temperature which was 20 - 30° C higher than the ambient air temperature. In winter 1972, spruce seeds were the main food of the squirrels, and in winter 1972/73, pine seeds. In the latter winter, the nutritive value of the pine seeds was much higher than that of the local spruce seeds and also higher than that of other spruce seed samples studied. The mobility of the squirrel was at its minimum during the shortest days and the coldest months of the year. The activity pattern differed very clearly from that of the pine marten (Martes martes L.).

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