Survival estimates of free-living arctic ground squirrels (Urocitellus parryii): effects of sex and biologging

Sara M. Wilbur, Cody E. Deane, Greg A. Breed, C. Loren Buck, Cory T. Williams, Brian M. Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Hibernation is associated with long lifespan: on average, hibernating mammals live 15% longer than nonhiberna-tors of equivalent mass. We investigated how survival varies with sex, season, and the deployment of biologgers in arctic ground squirrels (Urocitellus parryii (Richardson, 1825)), a widely distributed northern hibernator. The duration of hibernation in arctic ground squirrels differs markedly by sex: females hibernate 30% longer each year than males, a behavioural trait that could positively affect female survival. Additionally, males engage in aggressive territorial and food cache defense in spring and fall, which may decrease survival in this sex. From 13 years of mark–recapture data, we estimated apparent survival of arctic ground squirrels in Arctic Alaska (USA) using Cormack–Jolly–Seber models in program MARK. We found that females had higher annual survival ( φwannual F = 0:753 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.469, 0.913)) than males ( φwannual M = 0:546 (95% CI: 0.416, 0.670)), with a maximum observed lifespan (10 years) that exceeded that of males (6 years). We also show that biologger use and implantation did not significantly impact survival. Quantifying basic arctic ground squirrel demographics from this well-studied population illustrates how sex-specific hibernation parameters may influence lifespan differences in male and female arctic ground squirrels and provides support for the safety of biologging devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-260
Number of pages10
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022


  • Cormack–Jolly–Seber modeling
  • Urocitellus parryii
  • arctic ground squirrel
  • biologging
  • demographics
  • hibernation
  • lifespan
  • survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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