Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Carmen Salsbury

Second Advisor

Travis Ryan


In this rapidly developing world, the relationship between humans and wildlife is becoming more strained. Despite the challenges, some animals respond better than others to the additional pressures present in urban environments, and squirrels are a prime example (McKinney, 2002). Several studies have focused on the distribution and abundance of tree squirrels in urban landscapes, but more information is needed to understand the connections between anthropogenic factors and population density (Shochat et al., 2006). Previous research that examined leaf nest densities within residential neighborhoods found a positive correlation between property value and nest density (Salsbury et al., unpublished data). The biological explanation of this relationship was unclear, so a follow-up study was necessary to further investigate this connection. The potential anthropogenic effects on Eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) distribution and abundance in urban residential areas was investigated using a combination of leaf nest surveys, observations of squirrel activity, and a citizen scientist questionnaire. The results indicated that the reported relationship between leaf nest density and property value was likely a correlation without causation. There were also inconsistencies in the relationship between squirrel activity and leaf nest density, and the squirrels appeared to be changing their nest locations relatively frequently. Therefore, there are likely other anthropogenic and environmental factors that have a stronger influence on squirrel activity and leaf nest density.