A1 Journal article – refereed
The effect of landscape structure on dispersal distances of the Eurasian red squirrel

List of Authors: Hamalainen S, Fey K, Selonen V
Publisher: WILEY
Publication year: 2019
Journal name in source: ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION
Journal acronym: ECOL EVOL
Volume number: 9
Number of pages: 9
ISSN: 2045-7758

Landscape structure can affect dispersal and gene flow in a species. In urban areas, buildings, roads, and small habitat patches make the landscape highly fragmented and can inhibit movement and affect dispersal behavior. Similarly, in rural forested areas, large open areas, such as fields, may act as barriers to movement. We studied how landscape structure affects natal dispersal distances of Eurasian red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) in an urban area and a rural area in Finland, by monitoring juvenile red squirrels with radio telemetry. We observed extremely long dispersal distancesup to 16kmin the rural study area, but shorter distanceson average only half a kilometerin the urban study area. The landscape structure affected the eventual dispersal paths; in the rural landscape, dispersers favored spruce dominated areas and avoided fields along their dispersal route, although they occasionally even crossed wide fields. In the urban landscape, squirrels preferred areas with deciduous or coniferous trees. The movement steps made by dispersers were longer in the more hostile landscape compared to forested areas. Despite these effects on movement path, the landscape structure only had a minor effect on straight line dispersal distances moved from the natal nest. In other words, individuals moved longer distances and were likely to circumvent barriers in their path, but this did not affect how far they settled from their natal home. This result indicates that, although landscape structure has obvious effects on movement, it still may have only a small effect on other aspects of the population, for example, gene flow.

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Last updated on 2019-20-07 at 05:28