Leonard, K. M. and J. L. Koprowski. 2009. A comparison of habitat use and demography of red squirrels at the southern edge of their range. American Midland Naturalist 162: 132-145.
Populations at the edge of their geographic range may demonstrate different population dynamics from central populations. Endangered Mt. Graham red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis), endemic to southeastern Arizona, represent the southernmost red squirrel population and are found at lower densities than conspecifics in the center of the range. To determine if differences are due to conditions at the southern periphery of the range, we compared habitat characteristics, demography, body mass, space use and nesting behavior with another subspecies located at the southern edge of the range, the Mogollon red squirrel (T. h. mogollonensis). We found that mean and minimum daily temperatures were higher at Mt. Graham whereas maximum temperatures were higher in the White Mountains, male Mogollon red squirrels were heavier than male Mt. Graham red squirrels in all seasons and female Mogollon red squirrels were slightly heavier than female Mt. Graham red squirrels in spring, proportion of squirrels in reproductive condition was lower in female Mogollon red squirrels, Mogollon red squirrels had smaller home ranges, used different types of nests and traveled less distance to nest than Mt. Graham red squirrels. There were no differences in annual rainfall, seedfall, habitat characteristics or survival between mountain ranges. Localized conditions appear to account for the disparity between populations. These differences demonstrate the importance of evaluating attributes of peripheral populations for maximizing persistence and intraspecific diversity.