Who would have thought red squirrels would thrive in an urban setting? Yet, apparently this is the case with an unusual red squirrel population living in the small Merseyside town of Formby!!
Doctoral research being undertaken by Kathryn Fingland of Nottingham Trent University is helping to uncover the relatively unknown life of Formby’s synurbic red squirrels. Unlike the rest of Europe, red squirrels are not common in the United Kingdom’s urban areas, which is mostly due to the effects of habitat loss, coupled with historical competition from the highly-competitive (non-native) grey squirrel. However, the small town of Formby is one of the few remaining strong-holds for red squirrel in England and is the only location where red squirrels live in an urban setting. So, it’s not surprising this unique location has become the focal-point of this very interesting research project!
Kathryn’s research is showing that Formby offers valuable habitat for red squirrel, which combined with supplemental feeding by local residents and the much-needed control of grey squirrels, is helping to ensure this haven is preserved. Thankfully, the uniqueness of Fromby has been recognised, which is why this small town it’s the subject of a long-term management strategy for red squirrel, which could comprise the provision for additional tree planting (suitable for red squirrel; unfavourable for great squirrel) and feeding and feeder-hygiene advice for local residents.
Over the coming years, Kathryn hopes her research will better protect this important native species, by showing how red squirrels are adapting to an urban life and how risks, associated with their urban lifestyle, affects their ecology.
This blog was informed by a research news article in The Conservation by Kathryn Fingland of Nottingham Trent University.
Image Credits: Pixaby (User ID: Felix Broennimann & Helga Ka)