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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Space use in a population of least chipmunks in the Southwest Yukon Glennie, Linda Cuffableness


This thesis describes an investigation of space use in least chipmunks at Kluane Lake, in the southwest Yukon. I examined demography, home range and habitat use patterns in the population. Based on live-trapping data from two grids over two summers, mean number of animals on the study area was 22.6/grid, similar to chipmunk numbers measured there over the previous four years. The population was lower than is generally found in the same species further south, although year-to-year stability was typical. Chipmunks preferred open forest and shrub-land to closed-canopy forest, which is also typical of the genus. Home range sizes measured using telemetry averaged 4.86 ha, higher than in any previously published study of the genus. I examined the relationship between social spacing and space use. Home range overlap averaged 93.4%; chipmunks do not appear to defend exclusive core areas. Provoked interactions among neighbours suggested that social dominance was based on age, weight, and breeding condition, rather than ownership of space. Although provoked interactions were generally aggressive, the telemetry data suggest that such behaviour was artifactual. Comparing the encounter frequency of radio-collared animals to that generated by a random model showed that chipmunks avoided encounters, except when harvesting seasonally abundant food. Grid-trapping did not increase food or cover availability enough to affect home range size. There was evidence that the presence of traps affected use distribution but not enough to invalidate trap-based home range estimates. Comparison of trap and telemetry based estimates of home range size yielded no significant differences.

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