Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


Scholarship Domain(s)

Scholarship of Discovery


This experiment was an observational field study on 5 college campuses across western Indiana and western Illinois. The purpose of this experiment was to find the ratio of melanistic to gray squirrels on each campus and see if the ratio changed geographically. Gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) have melanistic color variants in their populations that have not been documented across their distribution in the United States. Melanistic variants were introduced in the eastern United States and seem to be moving westward. Data was collected for all 4 seasons for Olivet Nazarene University, St. Joseph’s College and Illinois State University. Due to time constraints, University of Notre Dame and Augustana College were not observed in the winter. Olivet Nazarene University and Augustana College were the only campuses where black squirrels were present. Augustana College consistently had a higher ratio of black to gray squirrels than Olivet Nazarene University. By observing 5 campuses at distinct geographic points (northeast, southeast, central, northwest, and southwest), it was determined that the melanistic squirrels are not necessarily traveling from their initial point of introduction. The squirrels may instead have found alternate routes of moving across and into the United States. According to the results, the ratio of melanistic to gray squirrels is not decreasing moving east to west.


Honors Capstone Project completed in 2014 for Olivet Nazarene University.