The northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus) has an extensive range in North America, inhabiting boreal, coniferous, and mixed forests of the northern United States and Canada and the slopes of the mountains of the east and west. Most undisturbed northern populations are apparently thriving, but those in the southern mountains are considered disjunct relicts occupying declining remnants of suitable habitat. It is clear that range contraction in the past has been associated with climate and vegetation change in the Pleistocene and the large-scale timber harvests of the early 20th century and that today a significant threat comes from forest practices and development. However, the major problem in dealing with conservation of this species is understanding its complex ecological position in its regional communities and the subtle as well as obvious influences of human activities. Thus, to preserve this species over its extensive range one will have to consider its various roles as a biological opportunist, an important prey item, a disperser of mycorrhizae, a potential victim of biological warfare, and a small, secretive glider especially vulnerable to anthropogenic and possible climatic changes in the size, arrangement, and quality of its home forests.
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