The authors investigated the general activity and nest occupation patterns of fox squirrels in a natural setting using temperature-sensitive data loggers that measure activity as changes in the microenvironment of the animal. Data were obtained from 25 distinct preparations, upon 14 unique squirrels, totaling 1385 recording days. The animals were clearly diurnal, with a predominantly unimodal activity pattern, although individual squirrels occasionally exhibited bimodal patterns, particularly in the spring and summer. Even during the short days of winter (9 hours of light), the squirrels typically left the nest after dawn and returned before dusk, spending only about 7 hours out of the nest each day. Although the duration of the daily active phase did not change with the seasons, the squirrels exited the nest earlier in the day when the days became longer in the summer and exited the nest later in the day when the days became shorter in the winter, thus tracking dawn along the seasons. During the few hours spent outside the nest each day, fox squirrels seemed to spend most of the time sitting or lying. These findings suggest that fox squirrels may have adopted a slow life history strategy that involves long periods of rest on trees and short periods of ground activity each day.
This document was originally published by PLOS in PLoS One. This work is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International. Details regarding the use of this work can be found at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0151249
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