Presentation Title

Ecological influences on Foraging Strategy in Sciurus niger (Rodentia: Sciuridae)

Start Date

November 2016

End Date

November 2016

Location

Surge 171

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Abstract

Loyola Marymount University’s urban environment provides accessible food waste surrounded by a dense human population. It is commonplace to observe a fox squirrel, Sciurus niger, eating human processed foods such as a slice of pizza at LMU’s campus, but could the same be said for squirrels at a more rural state park nearby? Using principles from Optimal Foraging Theory, forging behaviors of fox squirrels from both locations are compared to investigate possible differences in feeding behaviors. Analyzing feeding and cache decisions at each site will indicate behavioral responses to a location’s predation risk, satiety levels, and food availability. Seventeen squirrels at LMU and twelve squirrels at Kenneth Hahn park were studied using foods typical of a natural squirrel diet and processed human foods. Various nuts and human foods were offered to determine possible differences in food preferences respective to each location. In addition, the study examines caching preferences and the effect of distance from cover on food selection. Squirrels from LMU and Kenneth Hahn both preferred processed grain products. Larger in-shell nuts were cached more frequently by Kenneth Hahn squirrels when the preferred food was depleted. Results have shown that squirrels on the LMU campus are willing to eat their top preference of food items regardless of distance from cover. Data collection will continue through the academic year 2016-2017 to enlarge the sample size and investigate other variables related to food selection.

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Nov 12th, 2:00 PM Nov 12th, 2:15 PM

Ecological influences on Foraging Strategy in Sciurus niger (Rodentia: Sciuridae)

Surge 171

Loyola Marymount University’s urban environment provides accessible food waste surrounded by a dense human population. It is commonplace to observe a fox squirrel, Sciurus niger, eating human processed foods such as a slice of pizza at LMU’s campus, but could the same be said for squirrels at a more rural state park nearby? Using principles from Optimal Foraging Theory, forging behaviors of fox squirrels from both locations are compared to investigate possible differences in feeding behaviors. Analyzing feeding and cache decisions at each site will indicate behavioral responses to a location’s predation risk, satiety levels, and food availability. Seventeen squirrels at LMU and twelve squirrels at Kenneth Hahn park were studied using foods typical of a natural squirrel diet and processed human foods. Various nuts and human foods were offered to determine possible differences in food preferences respective to each location. In addition, the study examines caching preferences and the effect of distance from cover on food selection. Squirrels from LMU and Kenneth Hahn both preferred processed grain products. Larger in-shell nuts were cached more frequently by Kenneth Hahn squirrels when the preferred food was depleted. Results have shown that squirrels on the LMU campus are willing to eat their top preference of food items regardless of distance from cover. Data collection will continue through the academic year 2016-2017 to enlarge the sample size and investigate other variables related to food selection.