Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Rodentia Sciuridae

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

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. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Chanson, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
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:
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

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)
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.
Systems: Terrestrial

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.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  
3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  
4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.1. Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land
suitability: Suitable  
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.2. Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland
suitability: Suitable  

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

Bibliography [top]

Elliott, C. L. and Flinders, J. T. 1991. Spermophilus columbianus. Mammalian Species 372: 1-9.

Wiggett, D. R. and Boag, D. A. 1989. Intercolony natal dispersal in the Columbian ground squirrel. Canadian Journal of Zoology 67: 42-50.

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

Citation: Linzey, A.V. & NatureServe (Hammerson, G.). 2008. Spermophilus columbianus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T42466A10708797. . Downloaded on 04 October 2015.
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