Skip to Main Content
The northern flying squirrel as an indicator species of temperate rain forest: test of an hypothesis.Author(s): Winston P. Smith; Scott M. Gende; Jeffrey V. Nichols
Source: Ecological Applications. 15(2): 689-700
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
PDF: View PDF (1.2 MB)
DescriptionManagement indicator species (MIS) often are selected because their life history and demographics are thought to reflect a suite of ecosystem conditions that are too difficult or costly to measure directly. The northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) has been proposed as an MIS of temperate rain forest of southeastern Alaska based on previous studies in the Pacific Northwest that demonstrated its habitat is multi-factorial, i.e., an emergent property of old-growth forest. We evaluated the suitability of flying squirrels as MIS in temperate rain forests of Alaska by modeling seasonal (spring, autumn) microhabitat use with stepwise logistic regression (SLR) using either individual habitat variables (n = 26) or multivariate habitat "factors," which were linear combinations of individual habitat variables generated from factor analysis. We compared the efficacy of single variable vs. multivariate factor models in explaining variation in microhabitat use to test the hypothesis that the habitat of flying squirrels in southeastern Alaska was an emergent property of old-growth rain forest. The underlying premise was that if factors were more thorough in explaining microhabitat use, the habitat of flying squirrels was multifactorial; that is, it consisted of multiple late-sera1 forest attributes occurring coincidentally at usable spatial scales (e.g., home range). SLR models with multivariate factors performed poorer in predicting capture sites than models of individual habitat variables. Two variables, density of large (>74 cm dbh) trees and understory cover of Vaccinium, explained much of the variation in microhabitat use. We conclude that the habitat of G. sabrinus in southeastern Alaska does not reflect emergent properties of old-growth forest in southeastern Alaska and hypothesize that this pattern may be related to regional ecological differences that facilitate a more general lifestyle than populations in the Pacific Northwest. Furthermore, the effectiveness of Glaucomys sabrinus as an MIS in north temperate rain forest is suspect, illustrating that regional differences in ecology of a species warrant caution when considering the suitability of MIS among geographic areas.
- You may send email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationSmith, Winston P.; Gende, Scott M.; Nichols, Jeffrey V. 2005. The northern flying squirrel as an indicator species of temperate rain forest: test of an hypothesis. Ecological Applications. 15(2): 689-700
Keywordsdensity, Glaucomys sabrinus griseifrons, logistic regression, microhabitat use, northern flying squirrel, old growth, southeastern Alaska, temperate rain forest
- Ecological correlates of flying squirrel microhabitat use and density in temperate rainforests of southeastern Alaska
- Habitat associations of hypogeous fungi in the Southern Appalachians: implications for the endangered northern flying squirrel (Glaycomys sabrinus coloratus)
- A meta-analysis of forest age and structure effects on northern flying squirrel densities
XML: View XML