Cudworth, N.L., J.L. Koprowski. 2011. Importance of scale in nest-site selection in Arizona gray squirrels. Journal of Wildlife Management. 75: 1668–1674
Nests provide a place for individuals to rest, raise young, avoid predators, and escape inclement weather; consequently, knowledge of habitat characteristics important to nest placement is critical for managing species of conservation concern. Arizona gray squirrels (Sciurus arizonensis) are endemic to mountains of southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. We investigated factors influencing nest-site selection at 4 spatial scales (forest-type, nest-site, nest-tree, and within-canopy placement) to provide ecological information and management recommendations for this sensitive species. Nest densities were 2.6 times higher in riparian than pine-oak woodlands. Nest sites had more large trees, snags, logs, and canopy cover and had lower slope. Arizona gray squirrels selected tall trees with more interlocking trees and tended to place nests adjacent to the main trunk. Regardless of scale, Arizona gray squirrels seemed to select nesting areas for their ability to provide protection from predators and the elements as well as access to food. Consequently, maintaining large trees with closed canopies and downed logs should be considered when determining land management plans. ©2011 The Wildlife Society.