Despite much attention to the foraging habits and hibernation patterns of food-storing mammals, little is known about the contents of winter larders under natural conditions or how animals prepare a winter larder. Here we describe the contents of 15 yellow-pine chipmunk (Tamias amoenus) winter larders from 3 different years and describe the movement of scatter-hoarded seeds into larders. We found larders by locating 14 radio-collared chipmunks in their winter dens. One additional larder was found by tracking the movement of seeds labeled with radioactive scandium-46 from scattered caches into the larder. Chipmunks formed winter dens and rapidly provisioned winter larders in the fall, just before the onset of winter. Surface caches were dynamic, with seeds residing in 1–6 cache sites ( = 2.6, s = 1.1) before being found in the larder. Distances from scattered caches to the winter larder were 34.5 m (s = 17.1). Contents of winter larders consisted of pine and shrub seeds. In 14 of the 15 larders, pine seeds contributed most to the size and caloric content of larders. Pine seeds and other seeds found in winter larders were produced by plants 2–4 months before the onset of winter. We conclude that if yellow-pine chipmunks did not scatter-hoard seeds during summer and autumn, seeds would not have been available for use in winter larders.
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Vol. 69 • No. 3