Campus: CSU Los Angeles -- April 07, 2003
Cal State L.A. is Asking Southern Californians
to Help Spot Squirrels for Science
Have you noticed tree squirrels in your neighborhood? Cal State L.A.’s
professor of biological sciences Alan Muchlinski and his grad student
Julie King are asking you to look a little harder for the sake of science.
Muchlinski and King’s Southern California Fox Squirrel Research
Project Web site needs community input to track the activities of the
local fox squirrel population, and to determine whether this “invading”
brown fox squirrel is destined to displace the native California gray
squirrel, sometimes called the Western gray (it’s the one with
the silver-tipped tail).
How did the eastern rodents make it this far west? Muchlinski says the
“newcomers” were introduced to the Los Angeles area around
1904 by Civil War and Spanish American war veteran residents of the
Sawtelle Veteran’s Home on Sepulveda and Wilshire Boulevards.
The veterans had the fox squirrels sent to California from their homes
in Tennessee and other areas near the Mississippi Valley. (A Feb. 8
Los Angeles Times feature on King’s research, “Squirrel
Stalker Wonders if It’s a Darwin Moment,” cites a farmer’s
magazine article theorizing that the veterans missed their squirrel
Between 1904 and 1947 the fox squirrel extended its range through the
Santa Monica Mountains, northward into and across the San Fernando Valley,
and over the Santa Susana Pass into the walnut groves of the Simi Valley—to
the dismay of walnut growers! King says the fox squirrels are found
today as far south as the Palos Verdes peninsula and Long Beach, and
as far east as San Dimas, West Covina, Hacienda Heights, and Brea. No
one has yet chronicled their population growth.
Will the fox squirrel replace the native gray? You can help by recording
your sightings at <http://instructional1.calstatela.edu/amuchli/squirrelform.htm>.
For more information on the research project, call Professor Muchlinski
at Cal State L.A., (323) 343-2050.
Contact: Carol Selkin, Media Relations Director (323) 343-3044