MOHAVE GROUND SQUIRREL DISTRIBUTION ON PUBLIC LANDS: REPEATING A CAMERA TRAPPING SURVEY TEN YEARS LATER
|Philip Leitner; firstname.lastname@example.org; Barbara M. Leitner|
The Mohave ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus mohavensis) occupies a small area in the western Mojave Desert of California. It is listed as Threatened under the California Endangered Species Act and is extirpated from a significant portion of its historical range. Much remaining habitat is on public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. An extensive trail camera study was carried out in 2011-2012 to document its distribution on these lands. The BLM has now sponsored a similar effort to re-sample most of the same sites 10 years later. We report on the results of the 2021 survey in the central portion of the Mohave ground squirrel range. The species was documented at 37 of the 55 sites sampled in 2021, similar to 2011-2012 results, thus confirming its continued persistence in this region. This result suggests reasonably good recovery from the severe 2012-2016 drought. However, no reproduction was observed in the extremely dry spring of 2021, winter annuals were absent and many shrubs were nearly leafless. Photos revealed many severely emaciated Mohave ground squirrels unlikely to gain enough body weight to survive dormancy. The long-term effects of climate change on this desert species are a serious continuing concern.