Flying Squirrel Removal Does Not Reduce Their Use of Simulated Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Nest Cluster
Eagle Hill Institute
Reproductive success of the endangered Picoides borealis (Red-cockaded Woodpecker) is thought to be reduced by the presence of Glaucomys volans (Southern Flying Squirrels); hence, these squirrels are often removed when found inside woodpecker cavities. For this management practice to benefit Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, however, squirrel removal must both reduce the future probability of a flying squirrel re-occupying cavities and increase reproductive success for Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. In this study, using simulated Red-cockaded Woodpecker clusters (pseudo-clusters), we tested the first assumption regarding squirrels reoccupying nest cavities. We found no differences between removal and control pseudo-clusters in the amount of time that flying squirrels were present in pseudo-clusters, the proportion of nest boxes occupied by flying squirrels, or the mean number of total squirrels and individual squirrels (counting each squirrel only once in the analysis) present in the pseudo-clusters. Thus, removing flying squirrels from nest clusters did not reduce the future probability of a flying squirrel occupying either a cavity or a cluster. These results indicate a need to re-evaluate flying squirrel removal as a management technique to enhance Red-cockaded Woodpecker reproduction.
Borgo, J. S., M. R. Conover, and L. M. Conner. 2010. Flying squirrel removal does not reduce their use of simulated red-cockaded woodpecker nest clusters. Southeastern Naturalist 9:813-820.