Skip navigation

University of Liverpool - University News


VIDEO – Formby’s red squirrel population recovering

published on November 15 2013
this article has no comments

redsquirrel-1wThe team identified a red squirrel that recovered naturally from squirrelpox and was released back into the population

A study by the University of Liverpool has found that the red squirrel population along the Sefton coastline seems to be recovering from a serious outbreak of squirrelpox in 2008.

Researchers from the University, in collaboration with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, have been monitoring the red squirrel population at the Seaforth Coastal reserve, which had fallen by 85% as a result of the outbreak.

Squirrel pox is a potentially fatal disease which affects red squirrel populations in some areas of the UK and is thought that to be a significant factor in the decline of the red squirrel population.  

“There are even indications that a few of the surviving squirrels appear to have antibody to the virus, which would suggest that they have recovered from infection in the past”
The virus is often carried by grey squirrels from North America, which rarely die from the disease, and which have now replaced red squirrels in most of England apart from a few areas like the Sefton coast.

Dr Julian Chantrey, from the Institute of Integrative Biology, said: “We have had a unique opportunity to study the dynamics of the squirrelpox disease.  So far, our findings indicate that they are recovering from the disease which affected them so severely in 2008.

“There are even indications that a few of the surviving squirrels appear to have antibody to the virus, which would suggest that they have recovered from infection in the past.

“More recently, we have identified a red squirrel that recovered naturally from squirrelpox and was released back into the population.

“However, at this stage, there is insufficient evidence to say whether there is significant resistance in the population as a whole to prevent another pox outbreak.”

The research is supported by NERC and the National Trust Formby.

More
Liverpool research to save red squirrels

redsquirrel-1h

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.