Freshman Scholars Program 2013

Population Density and Habitat Use of the Southern Flying Squirrel

Instructor:  Todd Fredericksen, Ph.D.


Project Description:

One student interested in wildlife and conservation biology. The two faculty members and students working on Dr. Stevens's project and Dr. Fredericksen's two projects will work together as a research group.

Southern Flying Squirrels (Glaucomys volans) occur throughout deciduous forests of Virginia. Habitat features shown to be important for this species include mature deciduous trees, cavity trees, proximity to water, mast producing trees, higher shrub layer stem density, and a relatively sparse midstory. While many forest stands have these conditions in southern Virginia and the species is considered common throughout the state, I have observed that Southern Flying Squirrel populations can be highly variable in different forest stands. For example, one forest stand on the campus of Ferrum College near Chapman Pond has a high population of this species with frequent captures over a series of years. Some other mature forest locations on campus have few to no recorded captures. The objective of this study is to compare population densities of the Southern Flying Squirrel at this site with other mature forest sites on campus and asses which habitat variables may best explain the variation in population densities.

The student will search the primary literature on the Southern Flying Squirrel, particularly regarding habitat requirements. The student will trap and tag flying squirrels for two four-day periods at four different mature forest sites on campus. Habitat data will also be collected at each site related to food, water, cover, and nesting sites. The student will fit different squirrels with a radio transmitter harness in order to estimate home range. The student will present a poster on this research.


Todd Fredericksen, Ph.D.

Dr. Todd Fredericksen is Associate Professor of Forestry and Wildlife in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at Ferrum College in Virginia. He teaches courses in forestry, wildlife, ecology, natural resource management, conservation biology, and natural history. His research interests include the effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on biodiversity, natural history and conservation of animal species in the Blue Ridge Mountains, tropical and temperate silviculture, and forest regeneration ecology. He has served as an editor for the journal Forest Ecology and Management since 2007 and serves on the editorial boards of three other scientific journals. He is currently President of the Virginia Natural History Society.

If you have specific questions about this project, please contact Dr. Fredericksen directly at TFredericksen@ferrum.edu.

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