Urocitellus columbianus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Sciuridae

Scientific Name: Urocitellus columbianus Ord, 1815
Common Name(s):
English Columbian Ground Squirrel
Spermophilus columbianus (Ord, 1815)
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.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-08-18
Assessor(s): Cassola, F.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G.
Contributor(s): Hammerson, G.A. & Linzey, A.
Listed as Least Concern because it is widespread, common in suitable habitat, and there are no major threats at present.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs in the central Rocky Mountains in North America, from southeastern British Columbia and southwestern Alberta, Canada, south through northern and eastern Washington, northeastern Oregon, northern and central Idaho and western Montana in the United States. Its elevational range is mainly 700-8,000 ft.
Countries occurrence:
Canada (Alberta, British Columbia); United States (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington)
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):210
Upper elevation limit (metres):2410
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Reported densities vary from 16.2/ha in natural habitats in southwestern Alberta to 61.7/ha in agricultural bottomlands in Washington. It is colonial and may attain pest status.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It is found in open habitat: high grass plateaus, sagebrush plains, valley grasslands, openings (meadows, clearcuts) in coniferous forests, alpine meadows, and stream banks. It is not very tolerant of dry conditions. Typically burrows in friable or sandy soils in open ground or bank under boulder or log. Also inhabits south-facing mountain slopes, and agricultural and grazing systems.

Mating occurs soon after females emerge from hibernation. Gestation lasts 24 days. Litter of 2-7 (average 2-4) altricial young is born May-late June. Nursing period usually lasts about 30 days. Sexually mature in 1-2 years.

This species is colonial. In southwestern Alberta, intercolony dispersal was mainly by yearling males; usually dispersed less than four kilometres but up to 8.5 kilometres (Wiggett and Boag 1989). Average home range of adult male was about 0.4 hectare, of adult female about 0.1 hectare. Adult males defend (primarily during breeding season) core areas within their home range. Adult females defend their territory near the nest burrow; and exhibit strong site fidelity. They are a reservoir for Rocky Mountain spotted fever and bubonic plague. Prey for various carnivores and diurnal raptors.

Diet includes a wide variety of vegetation: roots, bulbs, stems, leaves, seeds, and berries. Also eats some animal food (e.g., insects, mice, dead fish). May climb into trees and shrubs to obtain buds and fruits. Spends about 70% of year in hibernation.
Generation Length (years):2-3

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats to this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is not of conservation concern and its range includes several protected areas.

Citation: Cassola, F. 2016. Urocitellus columbianus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T42466A22265632. . Downloaded on 17 August 2018.
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