Investigating Dispersal of Red Oak (Quercus rubra) Acorns by the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only
Bachelors of Science (BS)
The aim of this project was to determine whether the eastern gray squirrel is a directed disperser of the northern red oak. Under directed dispersal, animals preferentially move seeds to microsites with characteristics that favor seedling establishment. Squirrel-chosen cache sites were located by providing squirrels with tagged red oak acorns. We then collected data on a suite of microsite characteristics at squirrel-chosen sites and at randomly-chosen sites. We observed that squirrel chosen sites are drier, have less wood debris cover around them, and are closer to trees than at random sites. There were no differences between cache and random sites with regards to canopy cover, or the cover of leaves/needles, herbaceous plants, or woody plants near the sites. We then planted fresh red oak, white oak, and chestnut seeds at cache and random sites. These sites will be reexamined in the spring in order to compare rates of emergence at squirrel-chosen and random sites.
Bland, Aaron Samuel, "Investigating Dispersal of Red Oak (Quercus rubra) Acorns by the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)" (2016). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 939.
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