Natal philopatry, communal nesting, and kinship in fox squirrels and gray squirrels

John L. Koprowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Tree squirrels (Sciuridae: Sciurini) are considered to be asocial; however, communal nesting is reported for most species. I examined the sociality of uniquely marked fox squirrels (Sciurus niger) and gray squirrels (S. carolinensis) to investigate interspecific patterns of natal philopatry, communal nesting, and kinship. Natal philopatry was female-biased in gray squirrels, resulting in the formation of kin clusters, but no fox squirrels remained in their natal areas. Adult male and female squirrels interacted less than expected, suggesting that the social systems of the sexes are separate. Communal nesting occurred in all seasons, but was most frequent in winter. Unrelated adult males commonly nested together in both species. However, adult female fox squirrels rarely nested in groups, although communal nests were common among female gray squirrels. Amicable behaviors were directed only toward closely related females (r = 0.5) within kin groups of gray squirrels; aggression was directed primarily at unrelated females. The female-female bond was important in the formation of groups in gray squirrels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1006-1016
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Mammalogy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1996


  • Sciurus carolinensis
  • Sciurus niger
  • recruitment
  • relatedness
  • sociality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


Dive into the research topics of 'Natal philopatry, communal nesting, and kinship in fox squirrels and gray squirrels'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this