Thesis

Social organization of the introduced fox squirrel (sciurus niger)

The social organization of the introduced fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) was studied in the Historical Orange Grove on the campus of California State University, Northridge, Los Angeles County, from 1 March 1973 to 16 July 1974. Twenty-one squirrels were color-marked for individual recognition and observed in the field. A dominance hierarchy was found to exist among the individuals of the population. Social rank was dependant primarily upon the age and sex of the squirrel. During the breeding period, females defended the immediate vicinity of their nests against other squirrels. A decrease in the number of agonistic interactions occurring during the non-breeding season was observed. Some visual, vocal, and tactile signals by fox squirrels in agonistic enounters are discussed. The organizational system of my population of fox squirrels differed slightly from that of an indigenous population of fox squirrels in Florida. The ultimate advantages of such a social system are: (1) conservation of energy; (2) increased reproductive success; and (3) maintainence of the more favorable genes in the gene pool of the population.

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