Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The largest member of the tree dwelling North American squirrels is the Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger Linnaeus). This species inhabits the eastern half of the contiguous United States. Its normal habitat is open woodland though the Fox Squirrel along with the Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis Linnaeus) may be found in some thickly wooded areas. The Fox Squirrel has extended its range farther west in response to the large number of trees that have been planted on the former prairie of the great plains (Yeager, 1959). The range of the Fox Squirrel is plotted in Appendix I, Figure 1 after Hal and Kelson, 1959.

The species S. niger has been divided into ten subspecies as listed by Hall and Kelson, 1959. The subspecies in the Nebraska and Iowa region is Sciurus niger rufiventer (Western Fox Squirrel) as described by E. Geoffroy St. Hilaire in 1803. The largest range for any of the ten subspecies is the one occupied by the Western Fox Squirrel (Fig. 1).

The normal color phase of the Western Fox Squirrel in the Iowa and Nebraska region is rufous. There are a number of variations in the color phase, one of which is melanistic, the focal point of this study.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Biology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska at Omaha In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts. Copyright 1973 Edward W. Lueninghoener.

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