Great Basin Naturalist


We investigated occupied squirrel middens and squirrel sightings and vocalizations as indicators of red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) abundance in the high-elevation whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) zone. Data were collected 1984–1989 from line transects located on 2 study sites in the Yellowstone ecosystem. We evaluated the performance of each measure on the basis of precision and biological considerations. We concluded that, of the 3 measures, active middens were the best indicator of red squirrel abundance. We also observed that the density of active middens dropped by 48%–66% between 1987 and 1989, following a severe drought and extensive wildfires that burned one of the study sites during 1988.