Mohave ground squirrels are small rodents native to the western Mojave Desert of California and are listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act. Given the expected effects of climate change in this region, understanding the responses of this species to environmental variation is becoming increasingly important.
Environmental Impacts on Space Use of Mohave Ground Squirrels
Researchers used radio tracking to study space use by Mohave ground squirrels in the central region of their range. They investigated the timing of hibernation and breeding, sizes of home ranges, distances of movements, and whether body size and movement were related to variations in climate. Dry years had a severe effect on individuals. Juveniles born in years with low rainfall weighed less, moved shorter distances, and began hibernation later in the season. Because of this strong response to climate variation, it is predicted that suitable habitat will shift northward as the climate warms. Corridors between the current range and new potential habitat could be important areas for conservation and could help Mohave ground squirrels adapt to a changing climate.
Poessel, S.A., Leitner, P., Inman, R.D., Esque, T.C., and Katzner, T.E., 2022, Demographic and environmental correlates of home ranges and long-distance movements of Mohave ground squirrels: Journal of Mammalogy, Online. https://doi.org/10.1093/jmammal/gyac082