The wide-spread encroachment of canopy-forming shrubs into northern and alpine tundra communities is likely to alter many plant—animal interactions, with direct and indirect impacts on herbivore populations. Specifically, shrub encroachment may impact habitat quality for herbivores by changing predation risk as a result of reduced visibility. We investigated the association between visibility and growth of juvenile arctic ground squirrels Urocitellus parryii across an alpine tundra ecotone with varying shrub cover. Marked individuals were weighed throughout the period following emergence from natal burrows in early summer until just prior to hibernation. Both males and females showed a positive association between habitat-specific visibility and post-emergence growth rate. There was a positive relationship between post-emergence juvenile growth rate and pre-hibernation mass for females but not males. As shrubs increase, ground squirrel populations may be adversely affected by reductions in habitat-scale visibility.
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