Increased agriculture and urbanization in southwestern Illinois have severely fragmented the forests of the region. Habitat fragmentation may cause lower species richness, population declines, or extirpation due to phenomena such as edge effects, inbreeding depression, and stochasticity. The effects of habitat fragmentation on suburban wildlife are poorly understood, especially for small mammals such as the Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans). Flying squirrels are arboreal rodents whose presence in a forest is indicative of habitat quality, as this species prefers mature and relatively open forest stands. Flying squirrels can be found in the forested areas of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) campus. Demographic features of this population and habitat use among forest patches were unknown. Artificial nest boxes were utilized to perform a mark-recapture study of the flying squirrel population as well as examine habitat use. Objectives were to obtain demographic information, and to create a predictive habitat model relating habitat characteristics to presence or absence of nest box materials using logistic regression. Study sites consisted of 145 randomized plots in three forest patches located within the SIUE campus, which were monitored November 2013 through October 2014. A model was generated for combined activity (nesting or feeding materials were present) at plots, which contained forest age, dominance of hard mast at a plot, tree density, topographic position, richness of the shrub layer, and the 90th percentile diameter at breast height. Habitat models were also generated for specified response variables of feeding material presence and nesting material presence. The top model for predicting feeding material presence in a nest box contained dominance of hard mast on a plot, richness of the shrub layer, and basal area of logs. The top model for predicting nesting material presence in a nest box contained the shrub layer stem count, roughness of the nest box tree bark, proximity to edge, cavity count, and the average hard mast dominance in the area surrounding the plot. Models tended to include characteristics regarding hard mast dominance and refugia, suggesting nest box use was influenced by avoidance of predation and food resource availability.
|Advisor:||Essner, Richard L.|
|Commitee:||Brown, Stacey R., Minchin, Peter M.|
|School:||Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||MAI 54/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Wildlife Conservation, Ecology|
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