It is commonly assumed that population estimates derived from trapping small mammals are accurate and unbiased or that estimates derived from different capture methods are comparable. We captured southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) using two methods to study their effect on red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis) reproductive success. Southern flying squirrels were captured at and removed from 30 red-cockaded woodpecker cluster sites during March to July 1994 and 1995 using Sherman traps placed in a grid encompassing a red-cockaded woodpecker nest tree and by hand from red-cockaded woodpecker cavities. Totals of 195 (1994) and 190 (1995) red-cockaded woodpecker cavities were examined at least three times each year. Trappability of southern flying squirrels in Sherman traps was significantly greater in 1995 (1.18%; 22,384 trap nights) than in 1994 (0.42%; 20,384 trap nights), and capture rate of southern flying squirrels in cavities was significantly greater in 1994 (22.7%; 502 cavity inspections) than in 1995 (10.8%; 555 cavity inspections). However, more southern flying squirrels were captured per cavity inspection than per Sherman trap night in both years. Male southern flying squirrels were more likely to be captured from cavities than in Sherman traps in 1994, but not in 1995. Both male and female juveniles were more likely to be captured in cavities than in traps in both years. In 1994 males in reproductive condition were more likely to be captured in cavities than in traps and in 1995 we captured significantly more reproductive females in cavities than in traps. Our data suggest that population estimates based solely on one trapping method may not represent true population size or structure of southern flying squirrels.
Additional publication details
Differential estimates of southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) population structure based on capture method