In an ever more urbanized world, animals have to cope with different challenging conditions that may shape the individual’s phenotype in the urban environment. Since body mass and body size are found to be related to fitness in many species, investigating the variation in these two morphological traits along the rural-urban gradient, is a first step to understand how animals adapt to urbanization. Here we studied two tree squirrels, the native Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) and the invasive Eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), using a pseudo-experimental design with replicated study sites (2 rural, 2 suburban and 2 urban sites for each species). We investigated whether squirrels differed in body size and body mass along the urbanization gradient and whether the invasive alien squirrels had more marked differences along the gradient, showing a higher adaptation capacity. We did not find variation in body size in red squirrels along the gradient, but invasive grey squirrels were slightly larger in urban than in other area-types. In both species, animals of either sex were heavier in the urban than in the rural sites, while the difference between urban and suburban areas depends on species and sex. Hence, morphologically both native and invasive species showed similar changes, with higher body mass in urban habitat, which could result in higher fitness, since body mass in squirrels species is positively related to reproductive success.

The advantage of living in the city: effects of urbanization on body size and mass of native and alien squirrels.

Tranquillo C.
;
Wauters L. A.;Santicchia F.;Preatoni D.;Martinoli A.;Bisi F.
Ultimo
2024-01-01

Abstract

In an ever more urbanized world, animals have to cope with different challenging conditions that may shape the individual’s phenotype in the urban environment. Since body mass and body size are found to be related to fitness in many species, investigating the variation in these two morphological traits along the rural-urban gradient, is a first step to understand how animals adapt to urbanization. Here we studied two tree squirrels, the native Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) and the invasive Eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), using a pseudo-experimental design with replicated study sites (2 rural, 2 suburban and 2 urban sites for each species). We investigated whether squirrels differed in body size and body mass along the urbanization gradient and whether the invasive alien squirrels had more marked differences along the gradient, showing a higher adaptation capacity. We did not find variation in body size in red squirrels along the gradient, but invasive grey squirrels were slightly larger in urban than in other area-types. In both species, animals of either sex were heavier in the urban than in the rural sites, while the difference between urban and suburban areas depends on species and sex. Hence, morphologically both native and invasive species showed similar changes, with higher body mass in urban habitat, which could result in higher fitness, since body mass in squirrels species is positively related to reproductive success.
2024
2023
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11252-023-01435-8
Morphology; Sciurus carolinensis; Sciurus vulgaris; Tree squirrels; Urban ecology; Urbanization gradient
Tranquillo, C.; Wauters, L. A.; Santicchia, F.; Panzeri, M.; Preatoni, D.; Martinoli, A.; Bisi, F.
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
s11252-023-01435-8.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipologia: Versione Editoriale (PDF)
Licenza: Creative commons
Dimensione 1.76 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
1.76 MB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11383/2167733
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 2
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 2
social impact