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Saturday December 07, 2019
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Tagging the Squirrels?

Question Corner: November 2019

by Tim Athan

From the November, 2019 issue

Q. I noticed some Diag squirrels sporting totally snazzy fluffy green earrings. Why are they being tagged, and by whom?

A. Those squirrels are subjects in a U-M study of the effects of urbanization on squirrels. Each tagged animal was captured and assessed for four traits in a laboratory trial (aggression, activity, exploration, and boldness), along with general health. These measurements are augmented with observations after the squirrels are released. Each has a unique colorful tag to help with identification.

Researchers are interested in the behavioral differences among squirrels in a particular setting, and how it's affected by urbanization, as measured by the number and behavior of nearby humans. Results are posted on twitter (@ bendbiologist) tagged with #SquirrelSquad.

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