Browsing by Subject "Pteromys volans"

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  • Byholm, Patrik; Burgas, Daniel; Virtanen, Tarmo; Valkama, Jari (2012)
  • Jokinen, Maarit (University of Helsinki, 2000)
  • Carlson, Helmi (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Tiivistelmä Referat – Abstract One of the major fundamental ecological questions is the composition of a species diet. The diet of a species is crucially linked to finding out its environmental requirements, and information about the possible changes in the diet is needed when studying the impact of environmental changes such as climate change on species. Siberian flying squirrel (Pteromys volans), classified as endangered in Finland, is a species living in coniferous and mixed forests. More precise information about the dietary habits of the species is needed to support conservation. The aim of my thesis was to investigate the diet composition and diet diversity of adult flying squirrels using DNA barcoding of their excrement pellets, a technique that provides highly accurate information quickly and effectively. The main research questions were whether the diet varies between sexes and seasons, whether diet has an influence on body condition and breeding success of the females, and whether diet diversity is related to the amount of suitable forest habitat near the nests. We collected faecal samples from 51 different flying squirrel individuals from two different study areas near the cities of Vaasa and Pietarsaari in June of 2020. Another set of samples from 8 individuals was collected in November 2020 in Vaasa. The collected samples were sent to a laboratory in Turku, where the DNA barcoding was conducted. I then made further statistical analyses from the laboratory results using general linear models to test my study questions. Although the sample size was too small to obtain statistically significant results for all the research questions, my results indicated that the diet of the Siberian flying squirrel differs between males and females just like its other living habits. Male flying squirrels have more diverse diet than female flying squirrels which have more specific and narrow diet, as they also have smaller home ranges during the breeding season and are more linked to their nesting forest patch compared to males. The aspect that female flying squirrels are more specialists during breeding time is crucial for the species conservation planning. DNA barcoding studies with bigger sample sizes should be done to further investigate the relationship between diet diversity and individual’s body condition and to ascertain the statistical significance to the results of this study.