ESR 23:73-82 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00561

Late winter and early spring home range and habitat use of the endangered Carolina northern flying squirrel in western North Carolina

W. Mark Ford1,*, Christine A. Kelly2, Jane L. Rodrigue3, Richard H. Odom4, Douglas Newcomb5, L. Michelle Gilley6, Corinne A. Diggins7

1US Geological Survey, Virginia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA
2North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, Asheville, North Carolina 28803, USA
3US Forest Service Northern Research Station, Princeton, West Virginia 24740, USA
4Geospatial and Environmental Analysis, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA
5US Fish and Wildlife Service, North Carolina Field Office, Raleigh, North Carolina 27606, USA
6Department of Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina-Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina 28403, USA
7Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The Carolina northern flying squirrel Glaucomys sabrinus coloratus is an endangered subspecies that is restricted to high elevation forests in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Owing to rugged terrain and nocturnal habits, the subspecies’ natural history, home range characteristics and habitat preferences are poorly known. We radio-tracked 3 female and 2 male Carolina northern flying squirrels during late winter through spring 2012 in the Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina, USA. Tracked squirrels used 13 yellow birch Betula alleghaniensis and 9 red spruce Picea rubens as diurnal dens. Ten of the yellow birch dens were in cavities, whereas the remainders were dreys. Conversely, 8 of the red spruce dens were dreys and one was in a cavity. Mean (±SE) female 95 and 50% adaptive kernel home ranges were 6.50 ± 2.19 and 0.93 ± 0.33 ha, respectively, whereas the corresponding values for males were 12.6 ± 0.9 and 1.45 ± 0.1 ha, respectively. Squirrels used red spruce stands with canopies >20 m more than expected based on availability at the landscape and home range scales. Results should be interpreted cautiously because of small sample sizes and seasonal observations; however, they provide evidence that although northern hardwoods such as yellow birch are an important den habitat component, mature red spruce-dominated habitats with complex structure provide foraging habitats and are also den habitat. Our findings support efforts to improve the structural condition of extant red spruce forests and/or increase red spruce acreage to potentially benefit Carolina northern flying squirrels.


KEY WORDS: Carolina northern flying squirrel · Habitat use · Home range · Red spruce · Southern Appalachians


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Cite this article as: Ford WM, Kelly CA, Rodrigue JL, Odom RH, Newcomb D, Gilley LM, Diggins CA (2014) Late winter and early spring home range and habitat use of the endangered Carolina northern flying squirrel in western North Carolina. Endang Species Res 23:73-82. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00561

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