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Tree squirrel habitat selection and predispersal seed predation in a declining subalpine conifer

Posted date: March 04, 2010
Publication Year: 
2009
Authors: McKinney, Shawn T.; Fiedler, Carl E.
Publication Series: 
Miscellaneous Publication
Source: Oecologia. doi. 10.1007/s00442-009-1496-5.

Abstract

Differential responses by species to modern perturbations in forest ecosystems may have undesirable impacts on plant-animal interactions. If such disruptions cause declines in a plant species without corresponding declines in a primary seed predator, the effects on the plant could be exacerbated. We examined one such interaction between Pinus albicaulis (whitebark pine), a bird-dispersed, subalpine forest species experiencing severe population declines in the northern part of its range, and Tamiasciurus hudsonicus (red squirrel), an effcient conifer seed predator, at 20 sites in two distinct ecosystems. Hypotheses about squirrel habitat preferences were tested to determine how changes in forest conditions influence habitat use and subsequent levels of predispersal cone predation. We performed habitat selection modeling and variable ranking based on Akaike's information criterion; compared the level and variance of habitat use between two forest types (P. albicaulis dominant and mixed conifer); and modeled the relationship between P. albicaulis relative abundance and predispersal cone predation.

Citation

McKinney, Shawn T.; Fiedler, Carl E. 2009. Tree squirrel habitat selection and predispersal seed predation in a declining subalpine conifer. Oecologia. doi. 10.1007/s00442-009-1496-5.