Temporal range: Middle Miocene - Recent
|European ground squirrel (Spermophilus citellus)|
|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 (rodents). The genus 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.
Some Eurasian species are sometimes called susliks (or sousliks). This name comes from Russian суслик, suslik. In some languages, a derivative of the name is in common usage, for example suseł in Polish. The scientific name of this genus means "seed-lovers" (gr. σπέρμα sperma, genitive σπέρματος spermatos – seed; φίλος philos – friend, lover).
Ground squirrels may carry fleas that transmit diseases to humans (see Black Death), 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, these exclusively Palearctic species are retained as the genus Spermophilus sensu stricto (in the strictest sense).
- Alashan ground squirrel, Spermophilus alashanicus
- Spermophilus brevicauda
- European ground squirrel, Spermophilus citellus
- Daurian ground squirrel, Spermophilus dauricus
- Red-cheeked ground squirrel, Spermophilus erythrogenys
- Yellow ground squirrel, Spermophilus fulvus
- Russet ground squirrel, Spermophilus major
- Caucasian Mountain ground squirrel, Spermophilus musicus
- Spermophilus nilkaensis
- Spermophilus pallidicauda
- Little ground squirrel, Spermophilus pygmaeus
- Spermophilus ralli
- Spermophilus relictus
- Speckled ground squirrel, Spermophilus suslicus
- Taurus ground squirrel, Spermophilus taurensis
- Asia Minor ground squirrel, Spermophilus xanthoprymnus
- Helgen, Kristofer M., et al. "Generic revision in the Holarctic ground squirrel genus Spermophilus." Journal of Mammalogy 90.2 (2009): 270-305.
- The Free Dictionary
- Palmet, T.S. (1904). "Index Generum Mammalium: a List of the Genera and Families of Mammals". North American Fauna. 23: 639. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
- Encyclopædia Britannica
- Helgen, Kristofer M.; Cole, F. Russel; Helgen, Lauren E. & Wilson, Don E (2009). "Generic Revision in the Holarctic Ground Squirrel Genus Spermophilus" (PDF). Journal of Mammalogy. 90 (2): 270–305. doi:10.1644/07-MAMM-A-309.1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 October 2011.
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