Comparison of the HSI and WHAG Habitat Evaluation Procedures for Tree Squirrels

HSI and WHAG habitat evaluation procedures were used to determine habitat suitability indices for gray (Sciurus carolinensis) and fox (S. niger) squirrels on 6 areas in central Missouri. Results from both evaluation procedures indicated similar habitat conditions on all areas. However, Lincoln-Petersen mark-recapture estimates indicated densities of both species varied across areas. No correlations were found between suitability indices and squirrel densities for either procedure or species. WHAG indices were greater than HSI indices for the same areas with the exception of one area which had equal indices. These results suggest that conclusions regarding habitat suitability may depend more upon the assessment procedure used than habitat conditions. Our study evaluated the HSI and WHAG procedures over a narrow range of habitat conditions, but indicated both procedures should be studied more thoroughly before either can be used reliably.

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