Mexican Red-bellied Squirrels in Biscayne National Park

Geoffrey Palmer and John Koprowski

Ecology of Introduced Mexican Red-bellied Squirrels in Biscayne National Park and their impact on an Endangered Palm

Two pairs of Mexican Red-bellied Squirrels (Sciurus aureogaster) were introduced to the 10 km2 Elliott Key in Biscayne National Park, Florida, USA about 70 years ago. The population expanded to the point where it was believed to negatively impact an endangered endemic palm. In 1992, the 7 m tidal surge that accompanied Hurricane Andrew submersed the entire key and the introduced tree squirrel was believed to have been eradicated as a result. Recent anecdotal observations suggested that the population was extant and growing. A visit by one of us (John Koprowski) to the site in March 2005 documented the persistence of the population. Our study will investigate the distribution, habitat use, and impact on palms of Mexican red-bellied squirrels using drey surveys, live trapping, radiotelemetry, and observation. Field work will be initiated in December 2005 and continue for 2 years.

To learn more, contact John L. Koprowski, Associate Professor, Wildlife Conservation and Management, School of Natural Resources, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 85721, USA.

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