Rocky to bullwinkle: understanding flying squirrels helps us restore dry forest ecosystems.Author(s): Jonathan Thompson
Source: Science Findings 80. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p
Publication Series: Science Findings
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
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DescriptionA century of effective fire suppression has radically transformed many forested landscapes on the east side of the Cascades. Managers of dry forests critically need information to help plan for and implement forest restoration . Management priorities include the stabilization of fire regimes and the maintenance of habitat for the northern spotted owl and other old-forest associates.
The northern flying squirrel is the primary prey of northern spotted owls and is a key species in a complex ecological web with important influences on forest productivity and biodiversity. Researchers have recently completed an extensive study of flying squirrel ecology on the Wenatchee National Forest, the first such study from the east-side . For 4 years and across several forest types, flying squirrels were live-trapped and radio collared; squirrel habitat was evaluated for food and denning resources.Results suggest that sufficient canopy cover, not forest age, is the single best indicator of good flying squirrel habitat. Other important habitat components include large trees with abundant forage lichen growth, down logs to promote abundant truffle foods, and diverse understory plant communities with rich fruit and seed food resources . Flying squirrel habitat could be conserved in dry forest landscapes through patchy or variable retention thinning, which emulates mixed-severity fires.
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CitationThompson, Jonathan. 2006. Rocky to bullwinkle: understanding flying squirrels helps us restore dry forest ecosystems. Science Findings 80. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p
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