Conservation status

Ten species of ground-dwelling squirrels are considered threatened, four of which are Endangered. The most critical case is the Vancouver Island marmot (Marmota vancouveren-sis), which has declined severely from the late 1980s possibly owing to changes in landscape from climate and forestry practices. Predation is considered a significant threat to the remaining small colonies. In 2002, only 25 animals were known to live in the wild on Vancouver Island, Canada. Another 63 marmots are in captive breeding facilities with the goal to reintroduce marmots in the near future. The other three endangered species are also in North America and have declined mainly owing to habitat loss from agriculture (Ammosper-mophilus nelsoni and Cynomys mexicanus) or fire suppression (Spermophilus brunneus). One of the six Vulnerable species is in Europe (S. citettus), two are in Asia (Marmota menzbieri and Sci-

A group of black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus). (Photo by Scott Nielsen. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)
An eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) with cheek pouches filled. (Photo by Leoard Lee Rue III. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

urotamias forresti), and three are in North America (Spermophilus mohavensis, S. washingtoni, and Tamiaspalmeri). All suffer from habitat loss and fragmentation.

Six species are Near Threatened, two of which are in Asia and four in North America. Most are threatened from habitat loss primarily from agriculture, however, the sylvatic plague is a major threat to the persistence of the black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus).

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