Spermophilus townsendii 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Sciuridae

Scientific Name: Spermophilus townsendii
Species Authority: Bachman, 1839
Common Name(s):
English Townsend's Ground Squirrel
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.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B1ab(iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Yensen, E. & NatureServe (Hammerson, G.)
Reviewer(s): Amori, G., Koprowski, J. & Roth, L. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority)
Listed as Vulnerable because its extent of occurrence is estimated to be only about 6,700 km², less than 10% of its original habitat remains and continues to decline in extent and quality, and populations are highly fragmented, and it is considered a pest and subject to control in some areas.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2000 Data Deficient (DD)
1996 Data Deficient (DD)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is restricted to the Yakima River Valley of Washington in the United States, west of the Yakima River and in the Horse Heaven Hills to the south of the valley (Hafner et al 1998). The entire area of the species' range appears to be less than 7,000 km².
Countries occurrence:
United States (Washington)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Remaining populations of this species are fragmented and isolated. There are no estimates of population density available.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented: Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is found mainly in high desert shrubland. It generally occurs in well-drained soils, especially embankments. It makes extensive burrow systems. Young are born in a nest chamber in an underground burrow. In Idaho, juvenile dispersal distance over two years was 146-1,076 metres (mean 515 metres over the two years) (Olson and Van Horne 1998).

Main diet includes herbaceous vegetation (grasses, forbs, and exotic annuals), and seeds; it 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. It is most active in the early morning.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Less than 10% of the species' original habitat remains and most of its range is on private land. This species causes agricultural damage in some areas and has been subject to control programs.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is not known to occur in protected areas. To protect this species it is necessary to prevent overgrazing and limit the expansion of agriculture.

Classifications [top]

3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  
4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  
8. Desert -> 8.2. Desert - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.1. Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land
suitability: Suitable  
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.3. Agro-industry grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.3. Persecution/control
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions

Bibliography [top]

Baker, R. J., Bradley, L. C., Bradley, R. D., Dragoo, J. W., Engstrom, M. D., Hoffman, R. S., Jones, C. A., Reid, F., Rice, D. W. and Jones, C. 2003. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 2003. Occasional Papers, Museum of Texas Tech University 229: 23 pp.

Hafner, D. J., Yensen, E. and Kirkland Jr., G. L. 1998. Status survey and conservation action plan - North American Rodents. IUCN/SSC Rodent Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland.

Olson, G. S. and Van Horne, B. 1998. Dispersal patterns of juvenile Townsend's ground squirrels in southwestern Idaho. Canadian Journal of Zoology 76: 2084-2089.

Rickart, E. A. 268. Spermophilus townsendi. Mammalian Species 268: 1-6.

Thorington Jr., R. W. and Hoffmann, R. S. 2005. Family Sciuridae. In: D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reader (eds), Mammal Species of the World, pp. 754-818. The John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Wilson, D.E. and Ruff, S. 1999. The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

Citation: Yensen, E. & NatureServe (Hammerson, G.). 2008. Spermophilus townsendii. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T20476A9205094. . Downloaded on 26 November 2015.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please provide us with feedback so that we can correct or extend the information provided