Home-range use patterns and movements of the Siberian flying squirrel in urban forests: Effects of habitat composition and connectivity

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http://hdl.handle.net/10138/160229

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Movement Ecology. 2016 Feb 17;4(1):5

Title: Home-range use patterns and movements of the Siberian flying squirrel in urban forests: Effects of habitat composition and connectivity
Author: Mäkeläinen, Sanna; de Knegt, Henrik J; Ovaskainen, Otso; Hanski, Ilpo K
Publisher: BioMed Central
Date: 2016-02-17
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/160229
Abstract: Abstract Background Urbanization causes modification, fragmentation and loss of native habitats. Such landscape changes threaten many arboreal and gliding mammals by limiting their movements through treeless parts of a landscape and by making the landscape surrounding suitable habitat patches more inhospitable. Here, we investigate the effects of landscape structure and habitat availability on the home-range use and movement patterns of the Siberian flying squirrel (Pteromys volans) at different spatial and temporal scales. We followed radio-tagged individuals in a partly urbanized study area in Eastern Finland, and analysed how landscape composition and connectivity affected the length and speed of movement bursts, distances moved during one night, and habitat and nest-site use. Results The presence of urban habitat on movement paths increased both movement lengths and speed whereas nightly distances travelled by males decreased with increasing amount of urban habitat within the home range. The probability of switching from the present nest site to another nest site decreased with increasing distance among the nest sites, but whether the nest sites were connected or unconnected by forests did not have a clear effect on nest switching. Flying squirrels preferred to use mature forests for their movements at night. Conclusions Our results suggest that the proximity to urban habitats modifies animal movements, possibly because animals try to avoid such habitats by moving faster through them. Urbanization at the scale of an entire home range can restrict their movements. Thus, maintaining a large enough amount of mature forests around inhabited landscape fragments will help protect forest specialists in urban landscapes. The effect of forested connections remains unclear, highlighting the difficulty of measuring and preserving connectivity in a species-specific way.
Rights: Mäkeläinen et al.


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