LIMERICK nature lovers or those who just like looking out the window at the garden are being asked to help with an important survey on urban squirrels.
Researchers in NUI Galway are trying to get as much information about the little nut-lovers as possible to investigate the use of urban green spaces by red and grey squirrels.
Since their introduction in 1911, the invasive grey squirrel has caused a number of problems for the red squirrel in Ireland.
The larger greys, which out-compete the reds for food and pass on a fatal disease to them, began to displace the red squirrel in many parts of Ireland since their introduction.
Nature has since stepped in and, with the recovery of native predator the pine marten, the fortunes of the red squirrel began to change. The pine marten, which predates on the larger, less vigilant grey squirrel, has contributed to the decline of the invasive species.
Survey curator, Galway-based PhD student Emma Roberts, said: “Our knowledge of the unexpected recovery of the red squirrel has been informed by a series of surveys on the squirrel species which have taken place since 2007”.
“While this recovery is positive, the reds are not “out of the woods” yet, as recent studies suggest that urban areas may act as a refuge for the grey squirrel, which may hinder red squirrel re-establishment in towns, cities, and urban parks, and may act as a source for further grey squirrel spread in the future.”
The survey ends next year and there is a requirement for more information on sightings from Limerick.
More information can be found on the survey Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter (@urbansquirrelsurvey). The online survey can be found here