Is habitat suitability sex-specific? A study of the Indian Giant Squirrel (Ratufa indica maxima) in the Western Ghats of India

K. Mohan, Joseph J. Erinjery, Arjun Kannan, Sidharth Srinivasan, Mewa Singh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Habitat suitability difference between sexes results in sex-specific dispersal. Although this behaviour is one of the key factors in understanding population dynamics, there are limited studies to evaluate it in arboreal species. We studied the distribution of the Indian Giant Squirrel (IGS; Ratufa indica maxima) from a sex perspective. We also evaluated potentiallly suitable habitat types for the species in the Nelliyampathy Reserve Forest, Western Ghats, Kerala, India. We used the sweep survey method to record the distribution pattern of squirrels and analysed the influence of climatic layers and other variables on the distribution using MaxEnt. The study revealed that there was a difference between the sexes in habitat selection. Males preferred more land-use types than females, which were restricted to only certain land-use types. Some of the major factors that determined the distribution of species were distance from urban settlement (50.1%), distance from shade plantation (23.2%), distance from rocky outcrop (9.2%), minimum temperature of the coldest month (9%) and precipitation of the wettest quarter (8.5%). The final MaxEnt model output predicted 49.07% suitable habitat for IGS, of which 45.47% and 34.42% were suitable for males and females respectively, with an overlap of 30.82% between the sexes. We suggest that it would be important to include a sex perspective in species habitat suitability studies in order to gain insights into sex-related habitat specificity and its role in dispersal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-72
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 Jul 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Conservation measures
  • distribution modelling
  • habitat loss
  • Ratufa indica maxima
  • sex-specific dispersal


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