The Role of Personality in Large Nut Dispersal by Sciurus carolinensis and its Implications for Seed Dispersal Across Human-Modified Landscapes
Author: Skye Cahoon
Graduation Year: 2020
Thesis Advisor: Alessio Mortelliti
Description of Publication: Small mammals are well known seed dispersers, but their efficiency at seed dispersal is directly affected by their personality type. Anthropomorphic habitat change shifts the distribution of personalities within small mammal populations, thus altering the mechanisms by which seeds are dispersed across these areas. Little is known about how small mammals interact with sidewalks, roads, or parking lots during the seed dispersal process despite these areas’ prevalence within human modified landscapes and the importance of understanding the ways in which seeds are transported across anthropomorphically altered regions. The goal of this study is to explore the role of personality in seed dispersal across sidewalks, streets, and parking lots by Eastern Gray Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis), a common urban small mammal. Through a field study in Maine, this paper shows that anxious and active gray squirrels are more likely to disperse nuts across sidewalks, streets, and parking lots. These results represent a step towards a greater understanding of road ecology as it pertains to seed dispersal, but more work is needed to examine the direct effects anthropomorphic habitat change has on urban squirrel personality distributions as well as how these changes impact their role as seed dispersers.
Location of Publication:
URL to Thesis: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/honors/584/