Date of Award:

1968

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences

Department name when degree awarded

Animal Ecology

Advisor/Chair:

Allen W. Stokes

Abstract

In an attempt to describe, explain, and show the demographic significance of annual variations in the nesting distribution of Uinta ground squirrels, a study was conducted during the summers of 1964 through 1967 in northern Utah. Procedures included both trapping and direct observation.

It was found that females tended to nest in open, previously inhabited, grassy areas. Males resided throughout a variety of habitats.

This typical nesting distribution was established initially in the summer by juveniles shortly after they first appeared aboveground. The extent to which the distribution was maintained the following spring depended largely upon the number of female s which emerged from hibernation and the pattern in which they emerged. The number of females which appeared depended upon the previous year's breeding density and productivity. The pattern of emergence appeared to be a function of an inherent pattern of physiological arousal from hibernation and the prevailing weather conditions.

The number and sequence of emergence of females in the early spring affected breeding and social organization in a manner which limited the number of females which retained residences in the study area. This determined the actual breeding density. In addition, emergence influenced the production of offspring by altering both the breeding density and the number of non-productive females in the population.

The adaptive significance of the system and its applicability to other species are discussed.

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