Marmota olympus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Sciuridae

Scientific Name: Marmota olympus (Merriam, 1898)
Common Name(s):
English Olympic Marmot
Taxonomic Source(s): Hoffmann, R.S., Anderson, C.G., Thorington Jr., R.W. and Heaney, L.R. 1993. Family Sciuridae. In: D.E. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds) Mammal Species of the World. A taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. pp.419-465. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London.
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: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-06-01
Assessor(s): Cassola, F.
Reviewer(s): Amori, G.
Contributor(s): Hammerson, G.A. & Linzey, A.
Listed as Least Concern as 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, its range is not severely fragmented, and its populations are 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 mainly found in the Olympic National Park in the olympic peninsula in Washington (Griffin et al. 2007). Their 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). 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 near sea level (30-200 m asl) (Scheffer 1995).
Countries occurrence:
United States (Washington)
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):30
Upper elevation limit (metres):1990
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). Over the past 15 years this species has declined or disappeared from several populations because of human activity (Griffin et al. 2007).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:2000-4000
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species inhibits meadows above 1400 m in the olympic peninsula (Griffin et al. 2007). Typical habitat includes near the 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 probably reach sexual maturity in 2-3 years (Banfield 1974).

It grazes on a wide variety of grasses and forbs. It does not store food for the winter but instead accumulates body fat. This species probably hibernates for about eight months each year, similar to M. calogata.
Generation Length (years):5

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. Human activity and recreation is a major threat to this species (Griffin et al. 2007). 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.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.1. Forest - Boreal
4. Grassland -> 4.2. Grassland - Subarctic

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
6. Human intrusions & disturbance -> 6.1. Recreational activities
♦ timing:Ongoing    

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.3. Other ecosystem modifications
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

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

Bibliography [top]

Banfield, A.W.F. 1974. The Mammals of Canada. University of Toronto Press.

Barash, D.P. 1973. The social biology of the Olympic marmot. Animal Behaviour Monographs 6: 171-249.

Baresh, D.P. 1989. Marmots: social behavior and ecology. Stanford University Press, Stanford, USA.

Edelman, A.J. 2003. Marmota olympus. Mammalian Species 736: 1-5.

Griffin, S.C., Valois, T., Taper, M.L. and Mills, S.L. 2007. Effects of Tourists on Behavior and Demography of Olympic Marmots. Conservation Biology: 1070–1081.

Hoffmann, R.S., Anderson, C.G., Thorington, R.W., Jr. and Heaney, L.R. 1993. Family Sciuridae. In: D. Wilson and D.M. Reeder (eds), Mammal Species of the World, a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, pp. 419-465. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-2. Available at: (Accessed: 04 September 2016).

Jones Jr., J.K., Hoffman, R.S., Rice, D.W., Jones, C., Baker, R.J. and Engstrom, M.D. 1992. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 1991. Occasional Papers, Museum of Texas Tech University 146: 1-23.

Pacifici, M., Santini, L., Di Marco, M., Baisero, D., Francucci, L., Grottolo Marasini, G., Visconti, P. and Rondinini, C. 2013. Generation length for mammals. Nature Conservation 5: 87–94.

Scheffer, V.B. 1995. Mammals of the Olympic National Park and vicinity. Northwest Fauna 2: 5-133.

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: Cassola, F. 2016. Marmota olympus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T42459A22257452. . Downloaded on 20 May 2018.
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