GLESENER, ROBERT R. Ecology Program, Brevard College. Equilibrium of Brevard NC's white and gray variants of the eastern gray squirrel.
Abstract: The city of Brevard NC hosts an established colony of non-albino white squirrels with pigmented eyes, head patch and dorsal stripe. According to local folklore, the Brevard variant derives from a pair trapped and released from northern Florida in 1951. Today this variant occurs throughout much of Transylvania and Henderson Counties, and parts of Jackson and Buncombe Counties, although disjunct in many parts of this range. Matings between white and gray variants as well as mixed litters have regularly been observed but available data are consistent with practically any proposed pattern of inheritance. In Fall of 1997, I conducted the first annual Brevard Squirrel Count. A study area of approximately 3.0 square miles centered on downtown Brevard was divided into 35 Sectors, to be walked by volunteers on three consecutive Saturday mornings in October. Over the first four years, squirrel abundance has varied widely in concert with available hard mast. However, the percentage of the white variant has remained relatively constant (P>.10) in the 21-25% range, averaging 23.2%. Walk-through squirrel counts underestimate true abundance. Line transect strip censuses performed in representative Sectors over the past two years indicate a current density of ~1.4 (total squirrels)/acre. It is estimated that there are over 600 white squirrels in the study area.
(A 15 minute oral presentation was made on March 24th as part of the Zoology Session at the 2001 annual meeting of the North Carolina Academy of Science held on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.)