Marmota olympus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Marmota olympus
Species Authority: (Merriam, 1898)
Common Name(s):
English Olympic Marmot
Taxonomic Notes: Marmota olympus was previously regarded as a subspecies of M. marmota by some authors. It was regarded as a distinct species by Jones et al. (1992), Hoffmann et al. (in Wilson and Reeder 1993), and Thorington and Hoffmann (in Wilson and Reeder 2005).

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. & NatureServe (Hammerson, G.)
Reviewer(s): Amori, G., Koprowski, J. & Roth, L. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority)
Listed as Least Concern although its extent of occurrence is less than 20,000 km², and it is restricted to a very small area, most of its habitat is within a protected area and its range is not severely fragmented, and its populations are not declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The species' range is limited to the upper slopes of the Olympic Mountains of western Washington (Edelman 2003); the species is almost completely restricted to Olympic National Park (Barash 1973). The extent of occurrence is approximately 1,800 square kilometers (Barash 1973). Most marmots occur at elevations of 1,500-1,750 m asl, with normal lower and upper extremes of 920 and 1,990 m asl (Barash 1973) and rare occurrences to near sea level (30-200 m asl) (Scheffer 1995).
United States (Washington)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Barash (1989) believed that the total population size was fewer than 2,000, but more recent estimates put the total at 2,000 to 4,000. This reflects better information rather than a population increase. This species is represented by a small number of occurrences or subpopulations, all within one mountain range. The specific number of occurrences depends on how each metapopulation is defined. Sharp declines and local extirpations have occurred at several colony sites since the late 1980s, although other colonies appear to be stable (Edelman 2003). The overall trend is not known.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Typical habitat is near timberline on subalpine and alpine meadows and talus slopes; many colonies are located on south-facing slopes, where food availability is probably greater because of earlier snowmelt (Barash 1973).

Young are born in underground burrows. Breeding patterns are probably similar to M. calogata where mating occurs in spring soon after emergence from hibernation, bears young in late May or early June, produces one litter of four or five young per year. Young reach sexual maturity probably in 2-3 years (Banfield 1974).

It grazes on a wide variety of grasses and forbs. It does not store food for the winter; it accumulates body fat. Probably hibernates for about eight months each year, similar to M. calogata.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Predation by coyotes and tree encroachment into subalpine meadows may be responsible for recent local declines (S. C. Griffin pers. comm., cited by Edelman 2003). The latter factor suggests that fire suppression might be a potential threat. Olympic marmots acclimate quickly to human intrusion into colonies and allow observation of behaviour (Edelman 2003).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Most of the habitat is protected in Olympic National Park. Research on populations trends and metapopulation dynamics is needed.

Citation: Linzey, A.V. & NatureServe (Hammerson, G.) 2008. Marmota olympus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 25 July 2014.
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