Temporal range: Middle Miocene - Recent
European ground squirrel (Spermophilus citellus) Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Class: Mammalia Order: Rodentia Family: Sciuridae Tribe: Marmotini Genus: Spermophilus
Spermophilus sensu stricto
Relationships among the Marmotini according to cytochrome b data (Helgen et al., 2009: fig. 2). Genera that were formerly included in Spermophilus are in bold.
Spermophilus is a genus of ground squirrels in the family Sciuridae. The majority of ground squirrel species, over 40 in total, are usually placed in this genus. However, Spermophilus in the broad sense has been found to be paraphyletic to the certainly distinct prairie dogs, marmots, and antelope squirrels, so it has been split into several genera by Kristofer Helgen and colleagues.
Ground squirrels may carry fleas that transmit diseases to humans (see Black Plague), and have been destructive in tunneling underneath human habitation. Though capable of climbing, most species of ground squirrel live in open, treeless habitats.
A generic revision was undertaken in 2007 by means of phylogenetic analyses using the mitochondrial gene cytochrome b. This resulted in the splitting of Spermophilus into eight genera, which with the prairie dogs, marmots, and antelope squirrels are each given as numbered clades. The exact relations between the clades are slightly unclear. Among these, eleven exclusively Palearctic species are retained as the genus Spermophilus sensu stricto (in the strictest sense).
- Clade 1, Notocitellus, the tropical ground squirrels
- Clade 2, Ammospermophilus, the antelope squirrels
- See antelope squirrel.
- Clade 3, Otospermophilus, the rock squirrels
- Clade 4, Callospermophilus, the golden-mantled ground squirrels
- Clade 5, Xerospermophilus, the pygmy ground squirrels
- Clade 6, Cynomys, the prairie dogs
- See prairie dog.
- Clade 7, Poliocitellus
- Franklin's ground squirrel, Poliocitellus franklinii
- Clade 8, Ictidomys, little ground squirrels
- Clade 9, Marmota, the marmots
- See marmot.
- Clade 10, Urocitellus, Holarctic ground squirrels
- Long-tailed ground squirrel, Urocitellus undulatus
- Uinta ground squirrel, Urocitellus armatus
- Belding's ground squirrel, Urocitellus beldingi
- Idaho ground squirrel, Urocitellus brunneus
- Merriam's ground squirrel, Urocitellus canus
- Columbian ground squirrel, Urocitellus columbianus
- Wyoming ground squirrel, Urocitellus elegans
- Piute ground squirrel, Urocitellus mollis
- Arctic ground squirrel, Urocitellus parryii
- Townsend's ground squirrel, Urocitellus townsendii
- Washington ground squirrel, Urocitellus washingtoni
- Richardson's ground squirrel, Urocitellus richardsonii
- Clade 11, Spermophilus sensu stricto, Old World ground squirrels
- European ground squirrel, Spermophilus citellus
- Alashan ground squirrel, Spermophilus alashanicus
- Daurian ground squirrel, Spermophilus dauricus
- Red-cheeked ground squirrel, Spermophilus erythrogenys
- Yellow ground squirrel, Spermophilus fulvus
- Russet ground squirrel, Spermophilus major
- Little ground squirrel, Spermophilus pygmaeus
- Spermophilus relictus
- Speckled ground squirrel, Spermophilus suslicus
- Taurus ground squirrel, Spermophilus taurensis
- Asia Minor ground squirrel, Spermophilus xanthoprymnus
- Spermophilus pallidicauda
- Spermophilus ralli
- Spermophilus brevicauda
- Helgen, Kristofer M.; Cole, F. Russel; Helgen, Lauren E.; and Wilson, Don E (2009). "Generic Revision in the Holarctic Ground Squirrel Genus Spermophilus". Journal of Mammalogy 90 (2): 270–305. doi:10.1644/07-MAMM-A-309.1. Archived from the original on 22 October 2011. http://www.webcitation.org/62dP5i1JK.
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