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Tamias obscurus

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA RODENTIA SCIURIDAE

Scientific Name: Tamias obscurus
Species Authority: J.A. Allen, 1890
Common Name/s:
English California Chipmunk, Chaparral Chipmunk

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor/s: Linzey, A.V., Timm, R., Álvarez-Castañeda, S.T., Castro-Arellano, I. & Lacher, T.
Reviewer/s: McKnight, M. (Global Mammal Assessment Team), Amori, G., Koprowski, J. & Roth, L. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority)
Justification:
Listed as Least Concern in view of its abundance within its restricted and fragmented distribution, its presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining at nearly the rate required to qualify for listing in a threatened category.
History:
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (Baillie and Groombridge 1996)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Southwestern United States and Mexico, but limited to the San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains of California and to the mountains of northern Baja California. Distributed in a series of at least four disjunct populations.
Countries:
Native:
Mexico (Baja California); United States (California)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Locally abundant and common, although in a small, fragmented range.

The populations in Baja California Sur, Mexico are very small with two subpopulations in the same locality.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Typically occurs in arid to semi-arid habitats in association with pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla) and juniper (Juniperus californicus), with some scrub oak (Quercus chrysolepsis) and yucca (Yucca brevifolia), cactus (Opuntia), rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus), and sage (Artemesia tridentate) in the understory, and rocky ground cover (Best and Granai 1994).

This squirrel is particularly active during late summer, from early to mid-morning and from mid- to late-afternoon, especially when pinyon nuts are available. Pinyon pine nuts are the primary food during the late summer months, and chipmunks may be found during the daytime climbing the pines in search of nuts (Wilson and Ruff 1999). This species eats a variety of seeds, fruits, and flowers, but captive specimens refused to eat insects and meat (Best and Granai 1994). In California, it has been reported that T. obscurus may have more than two litters of three or four young each per year. It uses burrows with entrances protected by large boulders (Best and Granai 1994).

In Baja California Sur, Mexico, this species is associated with two oasises where they consume the small crops in the area. Where plantations have been abandoned, the populations have disappeared. They use the cardon cactus (Pachycereus pingleyi) as nest sites.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Its range is restricted and fragmented. The rarity of the species in Baja California Sur makes it a trophy pet.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The three Mexican populations are in protected areas and parts of the species' range in California are in protected areas.
Citation: Linzey, A.V., Timm, R., Álvarez-Castañeda, S.T., Castro-Arellano, I. & Lacher, T. 2008. Tamias obscurus. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 April 2014.
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