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Body Mass at Weaning and Juvenile Recruitment in the Red Squirrel

Luc Wauters, Luc Bijnens and André A. Dhondt
Journal of Animal Ecology
Vol. 62, No. 2 (Apr., 1993), pp. 280-286
DOI: 10.2307/5359
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/5359
Page Count: 7
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Body Mass at Weaning and Juvenile Recruitment in the Red Squirrel
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Abstract

1. This paper describes the factors affecting local recruitment of juvenile red squirrels, Sciurus vulgaris L., in a coniferous and a deciduous woodland. It also investigates which factors affect body mass at weaning (10-12 weeks old). 2. In a 4-year study, of 85 weaned juveniles from 53 different nests, heavy young were more likely to be recruited in the study areas than lighter young. More young born early in a breeding season were recruited than young from later nests, but there was no difference in recruitment rate between juveniles from spring and summer litters. 3. Differential local recruitment by body mass at weaning occurred from weaning to 6 months after birth (when the period of natal dispersal and heavy early mortality is finished). However, body mass at weaning was not correlated with body mass at 18 months old, and no differences in body mass were found between recruits that survived and those that disappeared before this age. 4. In both spring and summer litters, significantly more early nests recruited young than did late nests, although no significant differences in mean body mass existed between young from early and late nests. 5. Mean body mass of siblings was positively affected by the body mass of the mother while lactating (both areas) and negatively by litter size (coniferous area only). Hence, heavier mothers produced heavier offspring than mothers of lower body mass. 6. Body mass at weaning of local recruits affected home range quality, suggesting that juvenile recruits of higher body mass settled in plots with a higher food abundance than lighter recruits.

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