The Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel
The Golden-mantled ground squirrel is a polygynous and omnivorous rodent found throughout the western United States and southern Canada. Besides eating pinecones, seeds, and green plants, this species also likes to feast on insects and carrion. Adaptation to climate change is another key factor that helps this species survive in its natural habitat. The species lives in areas that are prone to drought and erratic temperature fluctuations.
This species of ground squirrel primarily inhabits western North America, ranging from southern California to the southeastern parts of British Columbia. In these areas, the golden-mantled ground squirrel can be found in open woodlands and rocky slopes. They are generally diurnal, but can sometimes be found hibernating in the winter months. When not in hibernation, they consume nuts, seeds, and other plant materials. During the summer months, they eat well to gain fat and survive their hibernation period.
Although ground squirrels are largely solitary, their social behaviors are highly variable. Some species live in large colonies, while others live alone. Their social interactions are mainly agonistic. They engage in rough-and-tumble games, sometimes involving threat, but usually involving chasing a target without warning. Adults occasionally fight with each other, although this behavior seems to exclude conspecifics from a territory.
Polygynous in nature, the male golden-mantled ground squirrel is a highly competitive mammal that establishes territorial boundaries. Females, on the other hand, will typically mate with the male in whose territory they are found. The gestation period for this species is approximately 26 to 33 days, and females produce one or two litters per year. In some areas, breeding season is much shorter than in other areas.
Although the scientific name of the species Callospermophilus lateralis is ambiguous, it is usually mistaken for a chipmunk. It is found primarily in mountainous areas, such as San Bernardino County. It can also be found in forests, rocky meadows, and sagebrush flats. It has been known to survive at higher elevations than Pike’s Peak, and it can thrive at altitudes of over 4,000 feet. These animals are found in mixed coniferous forests in the Cascade, Klamatho, and Sierra Nevada ranges.
Adaptation to climate change
The golden-mantled ground squirrel is a common tourist attraction and is closely related to the chipmunk in appearance. This species lives in conifer forests in the western mountain ranges of North America. A recent study showed that this species has experienced drastic shifts in elevation in response to climate change. This study used nearly 50 species of small mammals to determine the response of ground squirrels and mice to change in the environment.
The occurrence of changes in the ambient temperature can affect the reproductive efforts of the golden-mantled ground squirrel. Its heart rate, respiration rate, and metabolic rate can all be affected by climate change. Adaptation of the golden-mantled ground squirrel to climate change is crucial to its future survival. The species is considered vulnerable to climate change, which is a global issue.
The Golden-mantled ground squirrel is found throughout Yellowstone National Park. They are often found near picnic areas and overlooks and are often quite accustomed to being fed by park visitors. However, the squirrel may be at risk of extinction if the forest is decimated. For this reason, this species should only be introduced to areas where it will not threaten the habitat. However, if you are unable to see the squirrel while visiting Yellowstone National Park, you should not be surprised if you encounter it.
The range of the golden-mantled ground squirrel extends from the Rocky Mountains to northern Mexico. They are a solitary species but sometimes form clusters of several adults. They are primarily diurnal, and can be active during the day or at night. They hibernate in areas where the ground is frozen. They usually hibernate from late August to November, resulting in a long winter during which they spend time moving around and rearranging nest materials.
Recent studies have highlighted the importance of ground squirrel population size and vigilance for conservation of this unique species. In contrast, ground squirrels living in urbanized areas were much less vigilant and had shorter FIDs, suggesting that they may not be trading off foraging and vigilance. While the findings suggest that urbanization can reduce anti-predator behavior, further research is needed to determine how this species responds to the changes in their environment.
The food and habitat of Golden-mantled ground squirrels depends on the type of vegetation surrounding them. The species prefers areas with high quantities of pioneer plants. These plants provide valuable food resources for the animal. In order to move about freely, golden-mantled ground squirrels have pouches on their cheeks that they use to carry their food. Golden-mantled ground squirrels can run on all four limbs and are also prone to accepting food from people.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.