Vesa Selonen, Ilpo K. Hanski and Maarit Jokinen
University of Helsinki
We studied the significance of ecological corridors for movement of arboreal flying squirrels by following radio-tagged animals (16 males, 22 females, and 20 juveniles). Flying squirrels prefer spruce-dominated forests for moving, foraging and reproduction.
Altogether eight adult males moved along forest corridors. The corridors connected spruce forest patches in a matrix of fields, clear-cuts, and sapling stands. In addition, three males crossed sapling areas more than 100 m wide without corridors. Females mostly stayed within one patch. However, two females used corridors between adjacent patches. Juveniles preferred spruce dominated forest for moving, but during dispersal were also moving in other habitats with trees. The longest crossing of an open field by dispersing juveniles was 160 m. This movement was partly aided by a row of willow bushes. Our results suggest that flying squirrels use ecological corridors, when they are available. In addition, flying squirrels can move also in other habitats with trees, when necessary.
Fig.1. Movement routes used by two adult males, one female and two juveniles
(dashed line) and movement route for one dispersing juvenile (straight
dark green = spruce forest,
light green = young forest,
light brown = sapling,
dark brown = pine forest,
red = clear cut,
yellow = field,
blue = other open.