Grey squirrel (2020) – pine marten predation

The dynamics of pine marten predation on red and grey squirrels 


Invasive alien species pose one of the greatest threats to global biodiversity. In parts of Europe, introduced eastern grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) have caused regional extinctions of the native red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris). However, exposure to pine martens (Martes martes) has been demonstrated to reverse the competitive outcome between red and grey squirrels. The mechanism whereby this effect occurs remains unclear. It is hypothesised that direct predation, facilitated by a lack of behavioural response, is the mechanism driving this relationship. We review the literature and reanalyse a new dataset to provide further data on the occurrence of both squirrel species in the scats of pine marten. Both squirrel species occurred in the scats of pine marten confirming its role as a predator of these species. Predation of grey squirrels was significantly higher than red squirrels and was recorded only in spring and summer. Our review provides evidence for the mechanism driving the current decline in grey squirrels in Ireland and Scotland and supports the hypothesis that in the presence of a shared predator, direct predation influences the outcome of species interactions between native red and non-native grey squirrels.

Twining, J.P., Montgomery, W.I. and Tosh, D.G. (2020). The dynamics of pine marten predation on red and grey squirrels. Mammalian Biology, 100(3), pp.285–293. 

Invasive Species Ireland

Invasive Species Ireland