Habitat and Landscape Correlates of Southern Flying Squirrel Use of Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Clusters
Southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) can have significant negative impacts on redcockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) reproductive success and group size. Although direct control of southern flying squirrels may be necessary in small red-cockaded woodpecker populations (<30 groups), creation of high quality habitat through landscape management is the preferred method for managing larger woodpecker populations. Thus, we determined the habitat and landscape factors within 100 m, 400 m, and 800 m of cluster centers that were related to southern flying squirrel use of red-cockaded woodpecker cavities at the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, South Carolina. At all spatial scales, the number of cavities in the cluster was the most influential variable determining use by southern flying squirrels. At the 400-m and 800-m scales, the amount of stream length was also positively associated with the presence of flying squirrels. The proximity and amount of hardwoods surrounding clusters were not related to southern flying squirrel use at any spatial scale; thus, removal or conversion of hardwood stands surrounding redcockaded woodpeckers may not be necessary for reducing cavity kleptoparasitism by flying squirrels. However, when establishing recruitment clusters, areas with streams should be avoided and addition of artificial cavities to existing clusters should be done judiciously to minimize the number of excess cavities. Published 2012. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.