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Overview

Distribution

Range Description

Most of the range of this species is in Asia. It occurs from northern European and Siberian Russia to Sakhalin, extreme eastern Kazakhstan to northern Mongolia, northwest and central China extending to northeast China (Smith and Xie, in press), Korea, and in Japan from Hokkaido, Iturup, Kunashir, Rishiri, Rebun, Teuri, and Yagishiri (Abe, et al., 2005). In Japan the species has been introduced on Honshu at one confirmed locality, Karuizawa. It is also introduced in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Italy (Amori 1999). In Mongolia it is known from forested areas of northern Mongolia, including Hangai, Hövsgöl, Hentii and Mongol Altai mountain ranges (Mallon, 1985).
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Geographic Range

Tamias sibiricus is the only member of the genus Tamias found outside North America. It is found naturally in northern Asia from central Russia to China, Korea, and northern Japan. It is also found in eastern Europe as a result of individuals escaping from captivity.

Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Introduced , Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Siberian chipmunks are 18 to 25 cm in total length, including a tail that is approximately one third of that length. Body length is 12 to 17 cm. The fur on the back is yellow to brown, with white fur on the chest and belly. There are 5 dark and 4 light colored stripes that runs down the back. Body mass varies with season and availability of food. A typical Siberian chipmunk will weigh 50 to 150g.

Range mass: 50 to 150 g.

Range length: 12 to 17 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species typically inhabits coniferous and mixed forests with a rich undergrowth of berry-bearing shrubs, as well as steppe and open areas. It occurs from the coast up in to mountains up to the tree line. It climbs trees, but lives in simple shallow burrows underground. Summer nests are in stumps, fallen trees, sometimes in low hollows. Usually the burrows consist of two big chambers, nest and larder, and small chambers used as a lavatory. These burrows can become up to 9 m in length, and each chipmunk 'owns' one burrow. Complex voice communication is characteristic to the species. It hibernates in winter. Short and long distance migrations have been registered during years with a poor harvest of Siberian pine nuts. It feeds on various seeds, mainly on Siberian pine, but their diet also includes seeds of other coniferous and deciduous trees and herbs. In spring and summer it consumes herb shoots; and sometimes can eat insects and molluscs. From August onward it stores up food for winter, storage mass usually 3-4 kg. It reproduces after leaving hibernation, in April-May. It is diurnal with most activity being in the morning. In Mongolia they do not hibernate during bad weather but do go into torpor, awakening occasionally to feed from their cache. They rarely become pests and if they do they are easy to control.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Siberian chipmunks live primarily on the forest floor where there is plenty of cover and among rocky outcroppings and in human structures, such as house foundations. They are also excellent climbers.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: taiga ; forest

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Siberian chipmunks are omnivores. In the wild their diet consists of seeds and grains, fungi, fruits, vegetables, grains, insects, small birds, and lizards.

Animal Foods: birds; reptiles; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

Other Foods: fungus

Foraging Behavior: stores or caches food

Primary Diet: omnivore

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Siberian chipmunks provide an important food source to their predators. Chipmunks are also important seed distributors due to their buried and forgotten caches. Like other chipmunks, they help to disperse fungal spores, dispersing important forest fungi. Parasite species are not reported for Siberian chipmunks.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

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Predation

Natural predators for Siberian chipmunks include birds of prey, weasels, and cats, although specific predator species are not reported in the literature. These chipmunks are vigilant and agile, escaping to their burrows when threatened. They are also cryptically colored in their forest undergrowth habitats.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Siberian chipmunks have 2 vocalizations. The first is a fast "cheep" that sounds a lot like a bird call. This is used when frightened, and lasts only 1/5 of a second. It is often used 3 to 6 times in succession. The second sound is a deep croaking sound. It is unknown what this croak is used for, although it is believed to be related to mating. They may also use visual and scent cues in communication, although this has not been documented.

Communication Channels: acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Siberian chipmunks live for a maximum 2 to 5 years in the wild, and 6 to 10 years in captivity. Several reports of Siberian chipmunks living past 10 years as personal pets have been reported.

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
2 to 5 years.

Typical lifespan

Status: captivity:
6 to 10 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 9.6 years (captivity)
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Reproduction

There is little known information on the mating systems of Siberian chipmunks. Most other chipmunks and squirrels have a promiscuous mating system.

The breeding season of Tamias sibericus begins in the second half of April. After a gestation period of 28 to 35 days a litter of 3 to 8 young is born. In Europe a second litter may be born over the summer months. Size at birth is 3.8 to 4g.

Breeding interval: Siberian chipmunks breed once to twice yearly, depending on location.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs from April to June.

Range number of offspring: 3 to 8.

Range gestation period: 28 to 35 days.

Range birth mass: 3.8 to 4 g.

Range weaning age: 7 (high) weeks.

Range time to independence: 8 (low) weeks.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 9 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 9 months.

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

Females are solely responsible for care of the offspring. The eyes of the young typically open after 20 to 25 days. The mother will take the young out foraging at 6 weeks old, weaning will be complete by 7 weeks, and at 8 weeks the young will be old enough to look for territory of their own.

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

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Tamias sibiricus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 54
Species With Barcodes: 1
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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
Tsytsulina, K., Formozov, N., Shar, S., Lkhagvasuren, D. & Sheftel, B.

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

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has a large population size and a wide distribution. No decline in population size has been detected, and there are no known widespread major threats. Its range is currently expanding westwards in Europe.
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Siberian chipmunks are considered "least concern" by the IUCN because they are widespread and common throughout their range. There have been no recorded declines in populations.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Population

Population
This species is relatively abundant across its range. It is expanding in Europe in the boreal forest zone, and has reached Vodlo Lake (Karelia) in Russia (H. Henttonnen pers. comm. 2006).

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no major threats to this species throughout its range. In Mongolia, hunting for the international trade in skins once occurred at high levels, and between 1958 and 1960 it was estimated that 2,600 to 4,400 individuals were killed annually (Stubbe, 1965). This activity is now believed to have ceased and at present the dominant threat to this species is human-caused and natural wildfires in some parts of its range. In Japan, there is suspected hybridization of native T. s. lineatus with feral continental individuals on Hokkaido, especially in urban areas, e.g. Sapporo (Abe, et al., 2005); this is exacerbated by the importation of squirrels from Korea and the mainland for pet shops.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Its range includes several protected areas.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Siberian chipmunks may occasionally eat crops and damage gardens. Like other mammals, they may carry diseases or host fleas infected with plague.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease); crop pest

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Siberian chipmunks disperse tree and plant seeds and fungal spores that aid in forest regeneration. Siberian chipmunks are occasionally kept as pets and their pelts are sometimes used. They may help to control pests, especially in outbreaks of forest tree pests.

Positive Impacts: pet trade ; body parts are source of valuable material; controls pest population

  • Danell, K., T. Willebrand, L. Baskin. 1998. Mammalian Herbivores in the Boreal Forests: Their Numerical Fluctuations and Use by Man. Ecology and Society, volume 2 issue 2: article 9. Accessed April 25, 2009 at http://www.consecol.org/vol2/iss2/art9/.
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Wikipedia

Siberian chipmunk

The Siberian chipmunk or common chipmunk (Eutamias sibiricus) appears across northern Asia from central Russia to China, Korea, and Hokkaidō in northern Japan.[3] The Siberian chipmunk was imported from South Korea and introduced in Europe as a pet in the 1960s.[3] It is the only chipmunk found outside North America, and this animal is classed either as the only living member of the genus Eutamias, or as a member of a genus including all chipmunks.


Description[edit]

Siberian chipmunk with its long tail clearly visible

Although these animals can exhibit slight variations in coloration in different geographic regions, they possess several common characteristics.[4] Typically the Siberian chipmunk has 4 white stripes and 5 dark stripes along the back.[3] It is 18–25 cm long, a third of which is the tail.[3] The weight of adults depends on the time of year and food availability.[3] Even though the Siberian chipmunk normally grows to 50–150 grams, this species is relatively small compared to other Sciuridae, such as the Red Squirrel.[5] [3] The Siberian chipmunks are not known to exhibit sexual dimorphism, and size and body proportions are the only way to distinguish younger chipmunks from older ones.[4] Their small size may contribute to their relatively short lives, which tend to range from 2 to 5 years in the wild.[3] However, when placed in captivity, as seen in Europe in the 1960's, they have the potential to live anywhere from 6 to 10 years.[3]

Distribution[edit]

Siberian chipmunks were found only in their native range of Eastern Asia until the 1960s, when this species was introduced to European countries.[4] During the 1960s, South Korea began to export these animals to Europe as a part of the pet trade.[4][3] Between 1960 and 1980, South Korea exported more than 200,000 individuals to Europe.[4] Human introduction is a major risk for the spread of this species into other forests and areas.[4] By the 1970's, the Siberian chipmunk inhabited suburban forests and urban parks in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Austria.[4] [3] Owners released these animals because they no longer wanted them as pets, or the owners purposefully freed the chipmunks to live naturally in the wild.[4] Other Siberian chipmunks escaped from captivity and inhabited the forested areas of Europe. [4] While thousands of animals were introduced to new environments, their naturally slow spreading, 200 to 250 meters per year, prevented them from rapidly moving to areas beyond Europe.[6]

Habitat[edit]

Tamias sibiricus near Lake Kuyguk

The Siberian chipmunk can survive in a variety of habitats and conditions.[3] They are usually found in coniferous forests, stony areas within forests and mountains, habitats filled with shrub, along waterways or roads, or other small patches of agricultural land.[3] [4] In Europe, the introduced populations usually live in deciduous forests, mixed deciduous and coniferous forests, or urban areas with greenery.[3] [4] Tamias sibiricus is able to survive in various environmental conditions, anywhere from 29°N to 69°N and -65°C to 30°C.[4] However, this species has a low ability of dispersal, and since they are mainly introduced into woody forests or urban areas with greenery, they have less potential to be naturally dispersed to other regions.[4] Also they have trouble overcoming man-made and naturally occurring obstacles, like roads or swamps. [4]

The Siberian chipmunk lives in loose colonies, where every individual has its own territory.[7] The territory ranges from 700 to 4000 m and is larger for females than males and is also larger in autumn than spring.[3] The Siberian chipmunk marks its territory with urine and oral glands inside of its cheeks.[3] This method illustrates one way in which this species communicates with one another. [7]

Behavior[edit]

Siberian chipmunks usually live solitary lives, but during the winter they create a burrow, which they often share with another chipmunk.[7][3] Its burrow, which can be 2.5 m long and 1.5 m deep, consists of a nest chamber, several storage chambers and chambers for the waste.[7][3] During this winter season, these chipmunks store 3-4 kg of food in order to survive underground until April or May.[8] In addition to the pairing off during hibernation, they also use a complex voice communication system to interact.[8] They have two vocal sounds, a fast, sharp sound for when they are frightened and a deep croak sound that is thought to be used for mating. [8][5]

Reproduction[edit]

While most chipmunks and squirrels are promiscuous in their mating routines, little is known about the mating habits of the Siberian chipmunk.[5] It is known that they are iteroparous, viviparous,and their breeding season usually occurs after hibernation in mid April.[5] They tend to breed only once or twice a year, and the number of offspring varies from 3 to 8.[8] The young are born blind and naked, and they weigh between 3-5 grams.[4] After the 28 to 35 day gestation period, the offspring open their eyes about 20 to 25 days after birth.[4][3] The females are responsible for caring for the young, and they teach them how to forage around 6 weeks.[5] Then the offspring complete the weaning stage around 7 weeks, and they reach the independent stage around 8 weeks.[5] [3] Adult body mass is reached at around 3 to 4 months, and by 9 months, both the male and the female reach sexual maturity.[8] [4]

Diet[edit]

Siberian chipmunks are omnivores that store or cache food.[5] [3] Normally, they eat Siberian pine seeds, along with different deciduous and coniferous tree seeds.[3] In addition to seeds, they eat herb roots, insects, mollusks, birds, reptiles, grains, fruit,and fungus.[5]


Ecosystem roles[edit]

Siberian chipmunks are essential food sources for other animals, such as diurnal raptors, weasels, and small cats.[5] Other known predators include hawks, owls, and foxes. [6] They evade being preyed upon by these animals by being alert, hiding in their burrows, and using their camouflaged fur to blend in with surroundings.[5] They distribute seeds and fungal spores, and other animals feed off their stored food.[5]

Burunduk fur-skins

Impacts[edit]

Positive impacts[edit]

Siberian chipmunks disperse seeds and fungal spores, which help forests grow and regenerate.[5] They also aid species diversity by helping control pests in its environment.[5] In addition to the beneficial aspects for the environment, some humans keep Siberian chipmunks as pets or sell them for their fur or other body parts.[5]

Negative impacts[edit]

The increasing rate of urbanization provides humans with greater mobility, and this advancement provides easier opportunities for humans to introduce non-native species, many of which cause health or economic issues. [9] For instance, Siberian chipmunks tend to eat crops and damage urban gardens.[5] In Russia, they eat approximately 50 percent of the forest nuts, and in other locations they can produce economic setbacks in regards to grains and orchards because of large consumption of these products.[6] These chipmunks are also known for preying upon low-nesting birds, and Siberian chipmunks often compete with other small native animals, such as the red squirrel, wood mouse, and bank vole.[6] However the most concerning aspect of this species' influence revolves around its ability to carry diseases, like Lyme disease, that have the potential to create danger for humans and domestic animals.[10]

estimated contribution to Lyme disease comparison chart

Lyme disease, also known as Borrelia burgdorferi, is a vector-borne disease that can be transmitted through ticks.[11][10] In comparison to bank voles and wood mice, the Siberian chipmunks contribute a much larger risk when it comes to Lyme disease.[10] The chipmunk's ability to spread this disease poses a risk to humans because Lyme disease can cause neurological, joint, and skin problems. [11] The Invasive Species Compendium states that the Siberian chipmunk can easily survive and spread diseases, like Lyme disease, to humans because the species has high genetic variability and high reproductive potential.[4] Also, with the Siberian chipmunk's movement and introduction into new environments, ticks and other parasites possess a greater opportunity to attach to hosts. [12] Lastly species invasion is difficult and costly to control, so these animals will continue to pose a threat to humans and other animals until they eventually became extinct or until humans actively take measures to reduce their impact on society.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tsytsulina, K., Formozov, N., Shar, S., Lkhagvasuren, D. & Sheftel, B. (2008). Tamias sibiricus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 8 January 2009.
  2. ^ Tamias (Eutamias) sibiricus, Mammal Species of the World, 3rd ed.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "Tamias sibericus". Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved February 27, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s compid=5&dsid=62788&loadmodule=datasheet&page=481&site=144 "Invasive Species Compendium". Tamias sibiricus. Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Haberland, K. "Tamias sibiricus". Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Siberian chipmunk, Tamias sibiricus". Great Britain Non-Native Species Secretariat. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d MacDonald, David; Priscilla Barret (1993). Mammals of Britain & Europe 1. London: HarperCollins. p. 230. ISBN 0-00-219779-0. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Saddington, G (April 3, 2009). "Notes on the Breeding of the Siberian Chipmunk in Captivity". International Zoo Yearbook 6 (1): 165–166. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  9. ^ Uspensky, Igor (February 2014). "Tick pests and vectors in European towns: Introduction, persistence, and management". Science Direct 5 (1): 41–47. Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c Marsot, Maud; Chapuis, Jean- Louis et al (January 31, 2013). "Introduced Siberian Chipmunks (Tamias sibiricus barberi) Contribute More to Lyme Borreliosis Risk than Native Reservoir Rodents". Public Library of Science 8: e55377. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055377. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Diseases and Conditions: Lyme disease". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved March 30, 2014. 
  12. ^ Chapuis, Jean-Louis; Boyer, Réale, Marmet, Pisanu (May 2010). "Personality, space use and tick load in an introduced population of Siberian chipmunks Tamias sibiricus". Journal of Animal Ecology 79 (3): 538–547. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2656.2010.01659.x. PMID 20202009. 
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