Special Issue "Squirrel Behavior, Welfare and Habitat"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Wildlife".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Bryan M. Wong
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Chemical & Environmental Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering Program, University of California-Riverside, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
Interests: computational materials science; first-principles calculations; electronic properties of materials; optoelectronic properties; density functional theory; time-dependent density functional theory; light-harvesting materials; plasmonic materials; carbon nanotubes; nanowires
Dr. Maria Fadri
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Wake Technical Community College, Raleigh, NC 27603, USA

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Since the industrial revolution, land urbanization has been occurring at an increasing and alarming rate. This has posed significant challenges for wildlife species, particularly squirrels, which have gained significant research interest as prototypical models for animal behavior, welfare, and habitats. Considering the wide range of environments in which squirrels live and the environment–squirrel relationships that can be established, research on squirrel behavior has garnered much interest, with studies ranging from environmental/urbanization approaches to those focused on squirrel welfare and habitats.

This Special Issue of Animals will present the latest research on squirrels. Authors are invited to submit related, original manuscripts, especially those that explore (1) the behavioral adaptation of squirrels to urban environments, and (2) the biological basis of squirrel behavior as a way of managing urban wildlife.

Prof. Bryan Wong
Dr. Maria Fadri
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • squirrel behavior
  • urban adaptor
  • urban ecology
  • human–wildlife conflict
  • wildlife management

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Do Differing Levels of Boldness Influence the Success of Translocation? A Pilot Study on Red Squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris)
Animals 2020, 10(10), 1748; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10101748 - 26 Sep 2020
Viewed by 694
Abstract
Conservation translocations, including reintroductions, are practices that are vital to restoring biodiversity and ecosystem function within conservation schemes globally. Sadly, population translocations have had a poor success rate historically. At a time where biodiversity is constantly decreasing, improving translocation success is vital for [...] Read more.
Conservation translocations, including reintroductions, are practices that are vital to restoring biodiversity and ecosystem function within conservation schemes globally. Sadly, population translocations have had a poor success rate historically. At a time where biodiversity is constantly decreasing, improving translocation success is vital for future conservation schemes. Often, to improve success, the selection of individuals is based on genetic characteristics and behaviours linked directly to survival. Further development to improve selection is proposed within this paper using animal personality. The study took place opportunistically to test how personality, in particular an animal’s boldness/timidness, may influence a population restoration of red squirrels into the Ogwen Valley, North Wales. Despite frequent translocations, data on how boldness and timidness may affect the establishment of this species are low. Testing was performed on key survival behaviours and boldness/timidness pre-release. This was performed via video data collection and identification of key behaviours that could be used to identify boldness or behaviours that could be linked to reduced fitness once released. Encounters at different distance intervals were monitored post-release via camera trapping to identify if boldness/timidness may change the furthest encounter distance of focal animals away from their release site. Relationships between the period for an individual to reappear post-threat was significantly linked to boldness, with other behavioural results and the encounter distance also showing trends of a potential relationship. Our results indicate that bolder individuals have a higher chance of expressing behavioural traits that will increase exposure to risks and, therefore, reduce the likelihood of successfully establishing populations. However, the small sample size of this study means that further research is needed. We suggest that during early stages of conservation translocation programmes, personality testing for boldness should become common practice, and we recommend selecting timid individuals for an initial release to improve population establishment, with bolder individuals utilised later to expand population distribution. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Squirrel Behavior, Welfare and Habitat)
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Open AccessArticle
Seasonal Expression of NGF and Its Cognate Receptors in the Ovaries of Grey Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis)
Animals 2020, 10(9), 1558; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10091558 - 02 Sep 2020
Viewed by 620
Abstract
The grey squirrel is an invasive alien species that seriously threatens the conservation of the native red squirrel species. With the aim of characterizing the reproductive physiology of this species due to its great reproductive success, the function of the ovarian nerve growth [...] Read more.
The grey squirrel is an invasive alien species that seriously threatens the conservation of the native red squirrel species. With the aim of characterizing the reproductive physiology of this species due to its great reproductive success, the function of the ovarian nerve growth factor (NGF) system was analyzed in a grey squirrel population living in central Italy. During the breeding and nonbreeding seasons, the ovarian presence, distribution, and gene expression of NGF, neurotrophic tyrosine kinase receptor 1 (NTRK1), and nerve growth factor receptor (NGFR), as well as NGF plasma concentrations, were evaluated in female grey squirrels. NGF was found in the luteal cells and in the thecal and granulosa cells of follicles, while NTRK1 and NGFR were only observed in follicular thecal and granulosa cells. NGF and NGFR transcripts were almost two-fold greater during the breeding season, while no seasonal differences were observed in NTRK1 gene expression. During the breeding season, NGFR was more expressed than NTRK1. Moreover, no changes were observed in NGF plasma levels during the reproductive cycle. The NGF system seems to be involved in regulating the ovarian cycle mainly via local modulation of NGF/NGFR, thus playing a role in the reproductive physiology of this grey squirrel population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Squirrel Behavior, Welfare and Habitat)
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Open AccessArticle
Home Range Estimates and Habitat Use of Siberian Flying Squirrels in South Korea
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1378; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081378 - 08 Aug 2020
Viewed by 791
Abstract
Conservation measures or management guidelines must be based on species’ ecological data. The home range of the target species was studied to understand its spatial ecology, in order to protect it. The Siberian flying squirrel is the only flying squirrel species present and [...] Read more.
Conservation measures or management guidelines must be based on species’ ecological data. The home range of the target species was studied to understand its spatial ecology, in order to protect it. The Siberian flying squirrel is the only flying squirrel species present and is considered as a protected species in South Korea. In this study, we investigated the home range, habitat use, and daily movement of Siberian flying squirrels from February 2015 to June 2016 at Mt. Baekwoon, Gangwon Province, South Korea. We tracked 21 flying squirrels using radio transmitters and analyzed the home range of 12 individuals. Flying squirrels appeared to have an overall mean home range of 18.92 ± 14.80 ha with a core area of 3.54 ha ± 3.88 ha. Movement activity peaked between 18:00–19:00 with the longest distance traveled, coinciding with sunset. In addition, we observed the preference of Siberian flying squirrels to the old deciduous forest with dense crowns. The results of the present study indicate that it is important to manage their habitat; for instance, preserving an appropriate size of mature deciduous forest is essential for Siberian flying squirrels. While our study provides needed baseline information on the spatial activity of the species, further research on topics such as the national distribution, behavior, and population dynamics of Siberian flying squirrels is needed in South Korea. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Squirrel Behavior, Welfare and Habitat)
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Open AccessArticle
Reproductive Traits of an Invasive Alien Population of Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) in Central Italy
Animals 2020, 10(4), 738; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10040738 - 24 Apr 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1112
Abstract
The reproductive cycle of an invasive alien Italian grey squirrel population was studied to understand its adaptation and limit its spread, in order to conserve the autochthonous red squirrel. Female and male genital traits were evaluated throughout the reproductive cycle, including the ovary, [...] Read more.
The reproductive cycle of an invasive alien Italian grey squirrel population was studied to understand its adaptation and limit its spread, in order to conserve the autochthonous red squirrel. Female and male genital traits were evaluated throughout the reproductive cycle, including the ovary, uterus, testicle, epididymis, seminiferous tubule morphometry, and germinative epithelium histology. Moreover, individual female fecundity was determined by counting uterine scars. Ovary width and uterus weight, length, and width reached their highest values in the luteal and pregnancy phases. On conducting a histological evaluation of the testicular germinal epithelium, four morphotypes related to the different reproductive phases of the male squirrels were identified: immature, pubertal, spermatogenesis, and regressive. Testicle and epididymis weights and seminiferous tubule diameters reached their largest values during spermatogenesis. Uterine scar analysis showed that 69% of the females had given birth to one or two litters, while 31% had no uterine scars. Litters were larger in the first breeding period than in the second; annual fecundity was 4.52 ± 1.88 uterine scars/female. Umbrian grey squirrels have adapted to their non-native range, showing two annual mating periods at times similar to those in their native range, and high reproductive success. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Squirrel Behavior, Welfare and Habitat)
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