The grey squirrel is actually a species of tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus. They are native to eastern North America and are considered among the most important and prodigious forest regenerators. However, these critters have been introduced in various places throughout the world. The European Union considers them an invasive species, and the grey squirrels are now considered a threat to their survival.
Grey Squirrel Origin
There are many theories about where grey squirrels originate. Some scientists suggest that these animals originated in Africa, but this is a myth. Some people believe that greys migrated to Britain from other parts of Europe. While this is possible, recent studies suggest that the species did not migrate to Britain despite being largely widespread in the area. Instead, the species may have been brought over from another continent entirely. Genetics has also ruled out-migration from Australia and New Zealand – two of the largest continents on Earth.
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Some researchers believe the grey squirrel was first introduced in Wales in the 1890s. The species was not originally from England, but it did well in its new habitats. Herbrand Russell, the 11th Duke of Bedford, dispersed grey squirrels from Woburn Park to other areas in England. A DNA database of nearly 1,500 greys found that they had adapted well to the new environment, so the population has remained stable.
A number of reports have suggested that grey squirrels were introduced to Wales in the late 19th century. They quickly displaced the native red squirrel in most of England. This species is characterized by a furry grey coat with a white underside, but they are sometimes brown. They can grow to be 30 cm long and have a bushy tail almost as long as their bodies. It is important to note that this species is not known to have originated in England.
In 1876, the Forestry Commission began investigating the spread of grey squirrels in England. The gray squirrel was introduced to several sites in Britain between 1876 and 1929. It eventually displaced the red squirrel and began to dominate the deciduous woodland. In addition, it was found that the new species could survive in the wild in Britain without being killed by predators. The gray is not affected by the disease that kills red squirrels but it can easily cause substantial damage to crops. The result is that this animal is harvested all year round.
The origin of the grey squirrel in the United Kingdom is a controversial topic. It is considered an invasive species, but genetic analysis has shown that it is not a native. The new populations are largely unrelated to other areas in Britain. Their introduction has reduced the genetic diversity of the country’s grey squirrels. In Britain, the squirrels have only been introduced by humans, and this has caused the species to be severely under-appreciated.
A recent study by Dr. Signorile and his colleagues assessed the genetic diversity of the British Grey squirrel populations. These new populations are not related to their nearby populations. For example, the population of greys in Aberdeen is closely related to those in Hampshire and the New Forest. The genetic analysis, however, did not show any relationship between the two populations, as they are completely separate and do not mix. So, the question remains, where did the gray squirrel come from?
The introduction of the grey squirrel was first reported in the 1890s. It was thought that these species were able to adapt well to the new habitat. Herbrand Russell’s plan to release greys into the countryside was to create a “natural” habitat for the species. The animal was initially introduced from North America and spread throughout the UK. As a result, the population of greys in Britain is a mosaic.
The greys’ rapid expansion in the UK did not result from a single release. In fact, the species’ rapid spread was not due to a small number of individuals. It was the result of interbreeding and natural selection. As a result, the genetic diversity of the grey squirrel in the UK is a mixture of historical and modern populations. Its rapid expansion in Britain did not originate from one single population.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.