University of Oulu

Santangeli, A., Wistbacka, R., Morosinotto, C. et al. Hair cortisol concentration in Siberian flying squirrels is unrelated to landscape and social factors. Sci Nat 106, 29 (2019).

Hair cortisol concentration in Siberian flying squirrels is unrelated to landscape and social factors

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Author: Santangeli, Andrea1; Wistbacka, Ralf2; Morosinotto, Chiara3;
Organizations: 1The Helsinki Laboratory of Ornithology, Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 17, FI-00014, Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, Oulu, Finland
3Bioeconomy Research Team, The Novia University of Applied Sciences, Raseborgsvägen 9, FI-10600, Ekenäs, Finland
4Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2019
Publish Date: 2020-03-06


Intact ecosystems are being lost or modified worldwide, and many animal species are now forced to live in altered landscapes. A large amount of scientific studies have focused on understanding direct effects of habitat alterations on species occurrence, abundance, breeding success, and other life history aspects. Much less attention has been placed on understanding how habitat alterations impact on the physiology of species, e.g., via elevated chronic stress when living in an altered landscape. Here, we quantify the effects of individual age and sex, as well as effects of landscape and social factors on chronic stress of an endangered forest specialist species, the Siberian flying squirrel Pteromys volans. We collected hair samples over 2 years from across 192 flying squirrels and quantified their chronic stress response via cortisol concentrations. We then ran statistical models to relate cortisol concentrations with landscape and social factors. We show that cortisol concentrations in flying squirrels are neither affected by habitat amount and connectivity, nor by the density of conspecifics in the area. We however found that cortisol concentration was higher in adults than in pups, and in males compared with females. Lack of an effect of environmental factors on cortisol concentrations may indicate low physiological sensitivity to alterations in the surrounding environment, possibly due to low densities of predators that could induce stress in the study area. Further research should focus on possible effects of varying predator densities, alone and in interaction with landscape features, in shaping chronic stress of this and other species.

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Series: Science of nature
ISSN: 0028-1042
ISSN-E: 1432-1904
ISSN-L: 0028-1042
Volume: 106
Issue: 5-6
Article number: 29
DOI: 10.1007/s00114-019-1624-y
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: Open access funding provided by University of Helsinki including Helsinki University Central Hospital. AS thanks the Academy of Finland (grant no. 307909) and Kone Foundation for financial support of this study.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2019. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.