Conservation and Trapping News

Squirrels in Japan: Winter habitat selection of Japanese squirrels in a snowy region of northeastern Japan
May 6, 2022 13:37 ET

Original Title:

Winter habitat selection of Japanese squirrels in a snowy region of northeastern Japan

Abstract:

We clarified the landscape-scale habitat selection of Japanese squirrels during winter in heavy snowfall areas in northeastern Japan. In this study, we examined the importance of evergreen coniferous plantations as habitats for Japanese squirrels. We searched for Japanese squirrel footprints in the snow along the 37 survey routes, from January 8 to March 8, 2020. We analyzed the relationships between the occurrence of Japanese squirrels based on footprints and environmental factors (i.e., the proportion of surrounding broad-leaved forest, Cupressaceae forest, and Pinaceae forest; distance from broad-leaved forest, Cupressaceae forest, Pinaceae forest, and water bodies, and elevation) using a generalized linear mixed model (GLMM). The results showed a high probability of footprint occurrence in areas close to Cupressaceae and Pinaceae forests and a low probability of footprint occurrence in areas with a high proportion of Cupressaceae forests. This study suggests that Cupressaceae plantations play a part in the function of habitats, such as refuge, resting and nesting environments, and protection from wind and snow, for Japanese squirrels during winter in snowy areas. However, the landscape, which is dominated by cedar plantations in the surrounding area, was considered unsuitable owing to the lack of food resources. Thus, for Japanese squirrels, a forest environment with multifaceted functions, including coniferous plantations and food resources such as walnut and pine trees, would be beneficial.