|Richardson's ground squirrel in Manitoba|
Urocitellus is a genus of ground squirrels. They were previously believed to belong to the much larger genus Spermophilus, but DNA sequencing of the cytochrome b gene showed that this group was paraphyletic to the prairie dogs and marmots, and could therefore no longer be retained as a single genus. As a result, Urocitellus is now considered as a genus in its own right.
All but two species are native to the northern and western parts of North America, from California and Minnesota through the north-western United States and western Canada; one species inhabits Arctic terrain on both sides of the Bering Strait, while the other is exclusively found in Asia. The name of the genus comes from the Latin words for "tail" (uro) and "ground squirrel" (citellus).
Twelve species are currently identified:
- 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
- Richardson's ground squirrel, Urocitellus richardsonii
- Townsend's ground squirrel, Urocitellus townsendii
- Long-tailed ground squirrel, Urocitellus undulatus
- Washington ground squirrel, Urocitellus washingtoni
- Herron, Matthew D.; Castoe, Todd A.; Parkinson, Christopher L. (2004). "Sciurid phylogeny and the paraphyly of Holarctic ground squirrels (Spermophilus)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 31 (3). doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2003.09.015. PMID 15120398.
- 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 [url=http://www.mammalsociety.org/uploads/Helgen%20et%20al%202009.pdf the original] on 22 October 2011.
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