The researchers chose fox squirrels living under natural conditions at The Morton Arboretum. Sciurus niger is a specie of squirrels that store acorns and nuts, during winter months, for future use (Kotler et al, 1999 p79). Their food structure is highly complex, thus making this analysis call for a special training. For example, training is needed to determine the supplemental food, which differs in cacheability, to present to the squirrels. Additionally, training is required to determine the behavior of the squirrels, in the assesment trays.
Animal’s foraging behavior is significantly affected, in several ways, when its food has future value and is cacheable. When a forager collects food, its marginal value of energy usually declines, thus cost of predation is increased (Kotler et al, 1999 p81). This mostly happens during the summer when dropped supplemental food items such as pine seeds and corns are spread on the ground surface. Food gathering increases to a point that the forager stops collecting more food and moves to a shelter, and this happens during winter. In this experiment, it was determined that food of future high value has less effect on the squirrels current and subsequent food gathering activities (Kotler et al, 1999 p81). However, stored perishable food influences the subsequent behavior of the squirrels. This implies that supplemental food items directly influences behavior of squirrels, during the summer and winter (Kotler et al, 1999 p81). In other words, food gathering is mainly done during the summer, and squirrels rest during winter while consuming the stored food.
Shuttleworth, in this article, is determined to establish how the nutritional content of food items affects the feeding behavior of red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris).