Patch choice of red squirrels feeding in a Pinus sylvestris plantation
- Ecology Division, DSIR, Private Bag, Lower Hutt, New Zealand
[Abstract of a paper read at the Ecological Society Conference, 1983.]
Squirrels repeatedly returned to particular trees (patches) within a mature pine plantation (in Moray, Scotland) to feed on seed which they extracted from cones. Squirrels found cones more quickly in these favoured feeding trees. Cones from favoured trees had more seed within them than cones of the same length from randomly selected trees. Larger cones allowed faster ingestion of seed than smaller cones. Adults avoided trees with small cones. Juveniles were particularly inefficient (compared with adults) at extracting seed from large cones. Juveniles concentrated their feeding in trees with smaller cones than those chosen by adults. All results, other than the avoidance of the largest cones by adults, were consistent with the hypothesis that squirrels concentrated their feeding in patches which allowed faster ingestion of seed.