Date of Award


Degree Name

Biological Sciences


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dr. Jayme Waldron, Committee Chairperson

Second Advisor

Dr. Shane Welch

Third Advisor

Dr. Anne Axel

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Ernie Wiggers


Southern fox squirrels (SFSs) are habitat specialists within the longleaf pine ecosystem of the southeastern US whose populations are declining due to habitat fragmentation. Eastern gray squirrels (EGSs) are generalists found throughout the eastern US that have historically avoided competition with SFSs through habitat-partitioning. The purpose of this study was threefold: 1) use translocation as a conservation tool to establish a population of SFSs on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island (MCRDPI), South Carolina and monitor survival, home range size, and habitat use post-translocation, 2) estimate SFS density on Spring Island, SC and examine patterns of SFS and EGS occupancy, and 3) quantify foraging behaviors of sympatric SFSs and EGSs. I hypothesized: 1) annual survival of translocated SFSs on MCRDPI would be lower than established SFS populations, home ranges would be of similar size to those previously reported and habitat use would indicate preference for open-canopy savannas/woodlands, 2) decreased SFS density on Spring Island due to land use change, and 3) foraging behaviors of sympatric SFSs and EGSs would reflect historical habitat preferences. To test these hypotheses, I: 1) translocated 62 SFSs (31 male, 31 female) to MCRDPI and radio-telemetrically monitored them for ≥ 90 days, 2) established 20 stratified random points on Spring Island, used camera traps to sample for SFSs and EGSs, identified individual SFSs to estimate density, and used multi-season occupancy models to test the effects of fire frequency and canopy cover on occupancy, and the effects of daily temperature and precipitation on detection probability, and 3) used feed depots and time-lapse videography to record SFS and EGS foraging events, classifying head-up posture as vigilant and head-down posture as foraging. I found: 1) SFS annual survival rates were lower than established populations but similar to translocated populations; home ranges were similar to those previously reported; and SFSs preferred closed-canopy forests, 2) Spring Island SFS density is similar to density estimates from the 1990s; EGS occupancy is negatively associated with fire frequency; and EGS detection probability is negatively associated with maximum daily temperature, and 3) SFS foraging events were significantly longer than EGSs, but SFSs were also significantly more vigilant.


Wildlife conservation.

Conservation biology.

Squirrels -- Ecology.