Urocitellus canus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Sciuridae

Scientific Name: Urocitellus canus Merriam, 1898
Common Name(s):
English Merriam's Ground Squirrel
Spermophilus canus Merriam, 1898
Spermophilus vigilis (Merriam, 1913)
Taxonomic Source(s): Helgen, K.M., Cole, F.R.,Helgen, L.E. and Wilson, D.E. 2009. Generic revision in the Holarctic ground squirrel genus Spermophilus. Journal of Mammalogy 90(2): 270-305.
Taxonomic Notes: Spermophilus canus and S. mollis formerly were included in S. townsendii. Baker et al. (2003) and Thorington and Hoffmann (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) recognized the three taxa as distinct species, noting their distinct cytotypes and lack of hybridization. Includes vigilis (see Vorontsov and Lyapunova 1970, Nadler et al. 1984, wherein that junior synonym was employed as the species name). This species is now recognized under a new genus, Urocitellus (Helgen et al. 2009).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-10-11
Assessor(s): Yensen, E. & NatureServe
Reviewer(s): Amori, G.
Contributor(s): Hammerson, G.A.
Listed as Least Concern because it is relatively widespread, adaptable, has a presumed large population, and is not declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is found in the western United States; in eastern Oregon (except northeastern and southeastern corners), northwestern Nevada, and west side of Snake River in west-central Idaho (Hoffman et al., in Wilson and Reeder 1993).
Countries occurrence:
United States (Idaho, Nevada, Oregon)
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:The current population trend of this species is unknown.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It occurs mainly in high desert (sagebrush, shadscale, greasewood, western juniper), grasslands, pastures (Rickart, in Wilson and Ruff 1999); and also in river valley bottomland. Generally in well-drained soils, especially embankments. It is often around desert springs and irrigated fields. It makes extensive burrow systems. Young are born in a nest chamber in an underground burrow.

Main diet is herbaceous vegetation (grasses, forbs, and exotic annuals), and seeds; may also eat some shrub parts and animal matter. Will often feed on crops. May climb bushes while foraging. Emerges from dormancy in late winter or early spring (males before females) but returns to dormancy during May-July, when grasses dry out. May have separate period of activity in fall. Most active in the early morning.
Generation Length (years):3

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Main threats appear to be agricultural conversion and rangeland degradation although these are not major threats throughout the species' range. It causes agricultural damage in some areas and has been subject of control programs.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is not known to occur in any protected areas.

Citation: Yensen, E. & NatureServe. 2017. Urocitellus canus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T42465A22265551. . Downloaded on 26 September 2017.
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