A. Significance and importance of project
Research will be conducted on the foraging behavioral habits of the gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) in the presence of predatory scent. The differential influences of urban versus rural settings in their relation to foraging practices will be studied. Predator scent has been shown to influence foraging behavior in the past (Lima and Valone, 1986). Predation risk and foraging efficiency were demonstrated in this study to be interrelated concepts in behavioral patterns of gray squirrels. Distance to cover, item size, food energy content and travel time seemed to factor into the tradeoff that the squirrels made in the field.
The idea that such factors are significant determinants of foraging, lead us to ask the questions: 1. Would predator odor be as effective on these behaviors in an urban setting or a rural environment? 2. Will the gray squirrel be more likely to carry a food item or ignore it all together in the presence of predator scent? 3.
Will foraging patterns be effected differently in different (urban vs. rural) locations?
Foraging response and effectiveness of predator odors as gray squirrel repellants (Rosell, 2000) first prompted our interest in the proposed research idea. Rosell tested squirrel response to several different predatory scents. By adopting his basic premise of experimentation technique and simplifying the scent variables, we hope to test the differential effects of foraging practices in different environments.
Bowers and Breland (1996) discovered that there was a higher intensity of foraging in urban settings by the gray squirrel. Testing both of these concepts in relation to each other will provide a more in depth understanding of their significance in foraging response to predator risk in different locations.
B. Methods of proposed project
In this study we plan to observe gray squirrel response to predator...