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Overview

Brief Summary

Description

Long-eared chipmunks are striking, with sharp, bright markings and the longest ears of any chipmunk. They live at middle elevations (970-2,290 m) in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. They sometimes nest in trees in summer, but more often den in secluded places on or near the ground. In November, they begin a four-month hibernation, first by adding about 20 percent to their body weight. They eat the same wide variety of foods as most chipmunks, including seeds, fungi, flowers, berries, the pupae of butterflies, and other insects.

Links:
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Distribution

Range Description

This species occurs in the Sierra Nevada of east-central California (Plumas to Mariposa and Madera counties); and central and adjacent west-central Nevada in the vicinity of Lake Tahoe in the United States (Hoffmann et al., in Wilson and Reeder 1993; Clawson et al. 1994). It occurs at elevations of 960-2,250 m asl.
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Long-eared chipmunks, Tamias quadrimaculatus, are abundant and widespread throughout the northern Sierra Nevada of California from Plumas County south to Madera County and in Nevada in the Lake Tahoe area.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

  • Clawson, R., J. Clawson, T. Best. 1994. Tamias quadrimaculatus. Mammalian Species, 469: 1-6.
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endemic to a single nation

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Global Range: Sierra Nevada of east-central California (Plumas to Mariposa and Madera counties); central and adjacent west-central Nevada in the vicinity of Lake Tahoe (Hoffmann et al., in Wilson and Reeder 1993; Clawson et al. 1994). Elevations of 960-2250 m.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Long-eared chipmunks were first described by Gray (1867). Ears are long and slender. Pelage is reddish in color with a white-edged tail. The back is marked by five dark and four pale stripes, and there is a noticeable white patch behind each ear.

Males are smaller than females with a total length of 233 mm on average for males and 239 mm for females. The length of head and body for males and females is 138 mm and 141 mm, respectively. Females weigh between 81 and 105 g, whereas males weigh between 74 and 89 g.

A major distinction of this species is the increased width of the zygomatic process compared to other members of the Tamias. The baculum differs from other chipmunks in this group by having a longer shaft, a proportionally shorter tip, and a wider angle between the tip and shaft.

Like other hibernating chipmunks, T. quadrimaculatus is both homoiothermic and heterothermic. Although the body temperature is maintained at a set point, the set temperature is higher when the animal is active than when it is torpid. Chipmunks are endothermic.

Range mass: 74 to 105 g.

Range length: 230 to 245 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; heterothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

  • Broadbooks, H. 1999. Long-eared chipmunk| Tamias quadrimaculatus . Pp. 375-376 in D Wilson, S Ruff, eds. The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Washington and London: The Smithsonian Institution Press in Association with the American Society of Mammalogists.
  • Gray, J. 1867. Synopsis of the species of burrowing squirrels in the British Museum. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, 20: 434-436.
  • Johnson, D. 1943. Systematic review of the chipmunks of California. Univiersity of California Publication in Zoology, 48: 63-147.
  • Levenson, H. 1990. Sexual size dimorphism in chipmunks. Journal of Mammology, 71: 161-170.
  • Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • White, J. 1953. The baculum in the chipmunks of western North America. University of Kansas Publications, 5: 612-631.
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Size

Length: 26 cm

Weight: 100 grams

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Size in North America

Sexual Dimorphism: Females are slightly larger than males.

Length:
Average: 233 mm males; 239 mm females
Range: 230-239 mm males; 230-245 mm females

Weight:
Average: 78.1 g males; 91.9 g females
Range: 74.1-89 g males; 81-107 g females
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Diagnostic Description

See Sutton (1995).

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Type Information

Lectotype for Tamias quadrimaculatus
Catalog Number: USNM 186458
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Mammals
Sex/Stage: Male; Adult
Preparation: Skin; Skull
Collector(s): C. Allen
Year Collected: 1885
Locality: Blue Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, Placer County, California, United States, North America
  • Lectotype: Merriam, C. H. 1886 Jan 27. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington. 3: 25.
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Ecology

Habitat

Colorado Plateau Shrublands Habitat

This taxon can be found in the Colorado Plateau shrublands, as one of its North American ecoregions of occurrence. The Plateau is an elevated, northward-tilted saucer landform, characterized by its high elevation and arid to semi-arid climate. Known for the Grand Canyon, it exhibits dramatic topographic relief through the erosive action of high-gradient, swift-flowing rivers that have downcut and incised the plateau. Approximately 90 percent of the plateau is drained by the Colorado River and its tributaries, notably the lower catchment of the Green River.

A pinyon-juniper zone is extensive, dominated by a pygmy forest of Pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) and several species of juniper (Juniperus spp). Between the trees the ground is sparsely covered by grama, other grasses, herbs, and various shrubs, such as Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) and Alder-leaf cercocarpus (Cercocarpus montanus).

A montane zone extends over large areas on the high plateaus and mountains, but is much smaller than the pinyon-juniper zone. The montane vegetation varies considerably, from Ponderosa pine in the south to Lodgepole pine and Aspen further north. Northern Arizona contains four distinct Douglas-fir habitat types. The lowest zone has arid grasslands but with many bare areas, as well as xeric shrubs and sagebrush. Several species of cacti and yucca are common at low elevations in the south.

Numerous mammalian species are found within the Colorado Plateau shrublands ecoregion, including the Black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus); Long-eared chipmunk (Tamias quadrimaculatus); Utah prairie dog (Cynomys parvidens EN); Yellow-bellied marmot (Marmota flaviventris); and the Uinta chipmunk (Tamias umbrinus), a burrowing omnivore.

A large number of birds are seen in the ecoregion, with representative taxa: Chestnut-collared longspur (Calcarius ornatus NT); Greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus NT); Northern pygmy owl (Glaucidium gnoma); Cactus wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus).

There are various snakes occurring within the Colorado Plateau, including: Black-necked garter snake (Thamnophis cyrtopsis), usually found in riparian zones; Plains Blackhead snake (Tantilla nigriceps); Black-tailed rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus), who seeks inactivity refuge in rock crevices, animal burrows and even woodrat houses. Other reptiles found here include the Common checkered whiptail (Cnemidophorus tesselatus).

There are only a limited number of anuran taxa on the Colorado Plateau; in fact, the comprehensive occcurrence list for the ecoregion is: Red-spotted toad (Anaxyrus punctatus); Canyon treefrog (Hyla arenicolor); Woodhouse's toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii); Couch's spadefoot toad (Scaphiopus couchii); Northern leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens); Plains spadefoot toad (Spea bombifrons); and Southwestern toad (Anaxyrus microscaphus). The Tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) is the sole salamander found on the Colorado Plateau shrublands.

The Colorado River fish fauna display distinctive adaptive radiations. The Humpback chub (Gila cypha), for example, is a highly specialized minnow that lives in the upper Colorado. It adapted to the water’s fast current and its extremes of temperature and flow rate. Dams and water diversion, however, have created a series of placid, stillwater lakes and side streams, and the Humpback chub may not be able to adapt to these altered conditions. The species, along with other native Colorado River fishes including the Bonytail (Gila elegans), Squawfish (Ptychocheilus lucius), and the Flannelmouth sucker (Catostomus latipinnis), may not survive much further in time.

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It inhabits chaparral, brushfields, open areas in coniferous forests (e.g., ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, mixed coniferous); occurs among brush, rocks, and logs. Basically terrestrial but sometimes climbs trees. Nests have been found under buildings and in tree hollows.

Mating begins in late April and the first half of May. Gestation lasts about 31 days and young are born from May to July but mainly in the first half of June. Litter size is 2-6. Young are almost fully grown by early September (see Clawson et al. 1994).

Primary foods are various seeds and fruits (especially those of conifers) and hypogeous fungi; also eats some arthropods. Gleans seeds from tree squirrel "leftovers." This species stores food. Known to be active above ground from late March to mid-November.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Tamias quadrimaculatus is typically found in mixed chaparral, ponderosa pine, mixed conifers, brush fields, and Douglas fir. Its habitat preference includes brush patches, fallen logs, stumps, rocks, and ground litter. Nests are located in trees and in underground burrows. It is often found in dense shrubs with low to moderate canopy and along forest edges at low to mid elevations of 960 to 2,250 m.

Range elevation: 960 to 2250 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: chaparral ; forest ; scrub forest

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Comments: Chaparral, brushfields, open areas in coniferous forests (e.g., ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, mixed coniferous); occurs among brush, rocks, and logs. Basically terrestrial but sometimes climbs trees. Nests have been found under buildings and in tree hollows. See Clawson et al. (1994) for further details.

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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

Tamias quadrimaculatus is an omnivore that feeds mainly on fungi, seeds, berries and other fruits, conifer cones, and insects. Individuals feeding on fungi were shown to be fatter than those that did not have access to fungi. Long-eared chipmunks forage on the ground, in shrubs, logs, stumps, snags, and trees, and store seeds that they gather in underground caches for eating during winter hibernation.

Animal Foods: insects

Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

Other Foods: fungus

Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food

Primary Diet: omnivore

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Comments: Primary foods are various seeds and fruits (especially those of conifers) and hypogeous fungi; also eats some arthropods. Gleans seeds from tree squirrel "leftovers." Stores food.

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Associations

Tamias quadrimaculatus plays an important role in seedling establishment. Seeds stored in caches are often forgotten and will later sprout, thus aiding reforestation. Interestingly, T. quadrimaculatus may also play a role in preventing the reseeding of forests. After fires, these chipmunks may prevent reetablishment of trees through their foraging behaviors.

Tamias quadrimaculatus plays a role in maintaining symbiotic mycorrhizal associations with trees. By consuming fungi, they help in the dispersal of spores of the subterranean sporocarps.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds; creates habitat

Mutualist Species:

  • mycorrhizal fungi

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Predators include weasels , raptors, coyotes, foxes, and bobcats.

Known Predators:

  • weasels
  • raptors
  • coyotes
  • foxes
  • bobcats

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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General Ecology

Home range size in spring is 0.3-1.8 ha in males, 0.3-0.6 ha in females; male home range may be up to several hundred meters in diameter; males show little evidence of strict territoriality. Density of active population peaked at 1/ha in June in one study area.

Reportedly may play a role in preventing reseeding of coniferous forests (see Clawson et al. 1994).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Data on the communication patterns of this species were not available. However, most chipmunks use a variety of signals in their communication, and it is likely that T. quadrimaculatus is similar to other members of the genus.

Other chipmunks have vocalizations of various types. They use body postures and tail movements in their communication. Tactile communication may occur between rivals, mates, and mothers and their offspring. The role of chemicals in communication has not been described.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Cyclicity

Comments: Active above ground from late March to mid-November.

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Life Expectancy

Longevity has not been reported for T. quadrimaculatus. However, most chipmunks do not live more than a few years, and it is likely that this holds for this species as well. Tamias ruficaudus is reported to have lived 8 years in the wild, although less than 10 percent of individuals in this species lived longer than 5 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Observations: Little is known about the longevity of these animals, though they have been estimated to live over 8 years (Philip Altman and Dorothy Dittmer 1962).
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Reproduction

Males have cuts on their faces and bodies during breeding season. Females lack these injuries, indicating that there may be some aggression between males, possibly from competiton for mates. If they follow the pattern of other members of their genus, it is likely that mating in this species is polygynous.

Reproduction takes place from April to mid-July, with mating taking place typically in April and early May. The gestation period of 31 days ensures that the young are born by June. Lactation is thought to last about one month, and the young emerge in July and August. By September the young are almost fully-grown. They nest in trees, logs, stumps, and burrows. If like other chipmunks, these animals are capable of breeding by the mating season following their birth.

Breeding interval: Tamias quadrimaculatus breeds once per year.

Breeding season: Mating occurs in April and May.

Average number of offspring: 4.4.

Average gestation period: 31 days.

Average weaning age: 1 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 10 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 10 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous

Average gestation period: 31 days.

Average number of offspring: 5.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
339 days.

Details on the parental investment of this species are scant. However, if like other chipmunks, males play no significant role in parental care. Females give birth to their young in underground burrows, but later move their family to a nest in a tree stump or in a tree (Broadbooks, 1999). The female provides her young with protection and with nourishment until the young are weaned. The age of independence is not known with certainty, but young probably leave their mother's nest before hibernation.

Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Protecting: Female)

  • Broadbooks, H. 1999. Long-eared chipmunk| Tamias quadrimaculatus . Pp. 375-376 in D Wilson, S Ruff, eds. The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Washington and London: The Smithsonian Institution Press in Association with the American Society of Mammalogists.
  • Harris, J. 2005. "California Wildlife Habitat Relationship System" (On-line). Accessed November 13, 2005 at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/whdab/html/cwhr.html.
  • Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Sixth Edition. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Ross, R. 1930. California Sciuridae in captivity. Journal of Mammology, 11: 76-78.
  • Storer, E. 1944. Some rodent populations in the Sierra Nevada of California. Ecological Monographs, 14: 165-192.
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Mating begins in late April and the first half of May; gestation lasts about 31 days; young are born from May to July (mainly in the first half of June); litter size is 2-6 (mean around 4.4); young are almost fully grown by early September (see Clawson et al. 1994).

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Linzey, A.V. & NatureServe (Hammerson, G.)

Reviewer/s
Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Chanson, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
Listed as Least Concern because its extent of occurrence is larger than 20,000 km, it is common, there are no major threats, and its populations are not declining.

History
  • 1996
    Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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These animals are not listed as endangered. However, because they have such a limited range, it is important to protect their habitat to ensure that this species continues into the future.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

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Population

Population
This species is considered common in suitable habitat. Reported densities in the Sierra Nevadas ranged from 0.2/ha in April to 1.0/ha in June.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
This species has a restricted range but there are no major threats at present.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is not known to occur in any protected areas.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

There are no reported negative effects of these animals on humans.

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These chipmunks have a very limited distribution, and are unlikely to have extensive contact with humans. However, there may be some indirect benefit from these animals through their role in helping disperse seeds and thereby reestablish forests.

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Wikipedia

Long-eared chipmunk

The long-eared chipmunk (Neotamias quadrimaculatus), also called the Sacramento chipmunk or the four-banded chipmunk, is a species of rodent in the squirrel family Sciuridae. It is endemic to the central and northern Sierra Nevada of California and Nevada in the United States.[1] Long-eared chipmunks have the longest ears out of all species of chipmunks.[2]

Characteristics[edit]

Male long-eared chipmunks range from 23.0–23.9 centimeters (9.1–9.4 in) in total length, while females range from 23.0–24.5 centimeters (9.1–9.6 in). The tail makes up a large part of the total length, ranging from 8.5–10.0 centimeters (3.3–3.9 in) in males and 9.0–10.1 centimeters (3.5–4.0 in) in females. Males weigh from 74.1–89.0 grams (2.61–3.14 oz), and females weigh from 81.0–105.0 grams (2.86–3.70 oz). The chipmunks are bright red-brown in color, displaying five dark stripes and four pale stripes on their backs. They also have large, noticeable white patches at the base of both ears.[2]

Behavior[edit]

Long-eared chipmunks are diurnal. They forage on the ground for fungi, seeds, fruits, flowers, and insects, though in the fall they will climb conifer trees to eat seeds from the cones. The chipmunks hibernate in a den on the ground from November until March, and live in underground burrows or tree hollows the rest of the year. They mate in late April and May, and the young are born after one month of gestation.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Linzey, A. V. & Hammerson, G. (2008). Tamias quadrimaculatus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 8 January 2009.
  2. ^ a b c Wilson, Don E.; Ruff, Sue, ed. (1999). The Smithsonian Book of North American Mammals. Smithsonian Institution. pp. 375–376. ISBN 978-1-56098-845-8. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Formerly included in genus Eutamias, which recently was included in the genus Tamias (Levenson et al. 1985; Jones et al. 1992, Hoffmann et al., in Wilson and Reeder 1993). Based on patterns of variation in ectoparasites (Jameson 1999) and molecular phylogenetics (Piaggio and Spicer 2001), the North American mammal checklist by Baker et al. (2003) placed all North American chipmunks (except Tamias striatus) in the genus Neotamias. Thorington and Hoffmann (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) noted that chipmunks could be legitimately allocated to one (Tamias), two (Neotamias, Tamias), or three (Tamias, Neotamias, Eutamias) genera; they chose to adopt the single-genus (Tamias) arrangement.

See Sutton (1992) for a key to the species of Tamias (Neotamias).

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