Share This Article:

Climate change and the conservation of marmots

Abstract Full-Text HTML Download Download as PDF (Size:80KB) PP. 36-43
DOI: 10.4236/ns.2013.55A005    5,504 Downloads   7,858 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

Conservation of marmots, large ground-dwelling squirrels restricted to the northern hemisphere, was impacted by direct human activity through hunting or modifying ecosystem dynamics. Regulating human activities reduced the threat of extinction. Climate change, an indirect human impact, threatens marmot survival through global warming and extreme weather events. Most marmot species occupy a harsh environment characterized by a short growing season and a long, cold season without food. Marmots cope with seasonality by hibernating. Their large size increases the efficiency of fat accumulation and its use as the sole energy source during hibernation. Marmot physiology is highly adapted to coping with low environmental temperatures; they are stressed by high heat loads. Global warming since the last ice age reduced the geographic distribution of some of the 15 species of marmots. Recent warming resulted in a movement upslope of their lower elevation boundary. This process likely will continue because warming is associated with drier unpalatable vegetation. Drought reduces reproduction and increases mortality; thus decreased summer rainfall in the montane environments where marmots live may cause local extinction. Snow cover, a major environmental factor, is essential to insulate hibernation burrows from low, stressful temperatures. However, prolonged vernal snow cover reduces reproduction and increases mortality. Montane areas currently lacking marmot populations because vernal snow cover persists beyond the time that marmots must begin foraging may become colonized if warming causes earlier snow melt. This benefit will be short-lived because decreased precipitation likely will result in unpalatable vegetation. Although some marmot populations are physiologically adapted to a warmer climate, global warming will increase too rapidly for any significant evolutionary response to dryness. The species that live in high, alpine meadows where tree and shrub invasions occur are most threatened with extinction. Captive breeding can preserve marmot species in the shortrun, but is impractical over the long-term. Widespread species are unlikely to be endangered in the foreseeable future, but local, low elevation populations will be lost.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Armitage, K. (2013) Climate change and the conservation of marmots. Natural Science, 5, 36-43. doi: 10.4236/ns.2013.55A005.

References

[1] Steppan, S.J., Kenagy, G.J., Zawadzski, C., Robles, R., Lyapunova, E.A. and Hoffman, R.S. (2011) Molecular data resolve placement of the Olympic marmot and estimate dates of trans-Beringian interchange. Journal of Mammalogy, 92, 1028-1037. doi:10.1644/10-MAMM-A-272.1
[2] Armitage, K.B. (2000) The evolution, ecology, and systematics of marmots. Oecologia Montana, 9, 1-8.
[3] Nagorsen, D.W. (1987) Marmota vancouverensis. Mammalian Species, 270, 1-5. doi:10.2307/3503862
[4] Bryant, A.A. (1996) Reproduction and persistence of Vancouver Island marmots (Marmota vancouverensis) in natural and logged habitats. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 74, 678-687. doi:10.1139/z96-076
[5] Bryant, A.A. and Janz, D.W. (1996) Distribution and abundance of Vancouver Island marmots (Marmota vancouverensis). Canadian Journal of Zoology, 74, 667-677. doi:10.1139/z96-075
[6] Doyle, D. (2011) Vancouver Island marmot project. Final report, 19 p.
[7] Bryant, A.A. and Page, R.E. (2005) Timing and cause of mortality in the endangered Vancouver Island Marmot (Marmota vancouverensis). Canadian Journal of Zoology, 83, 674-682. doi:10.1139/z05-055
[8] Batbold, J. (2002) The problem of management of marmots in Mongolia. In: Armitage, K.B. and Rumiantsev, V.Yu., Eds., Holarctic Marmots as a Factor of Biodiversity, ABF Publishing House, Moscow, 69-75.
[9] Kolesnikov, V.V., Brandler, O.V., Badmaev, B.B., Zoje, D. and Adiya, Ya. (2009) Factors that lead to a decline in numbers of Mongolian marmot populations. Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 21, 371-379. doi:10.1080/08927014.2009.9522492
[10] Stephens, P.A., Frey-Roos, F., Arnold, W. and Sutherland, W.J. (2002) Sustainable exploitation of social species: A test and comparison of models. Journal of Applied Ecology, 39, 629-642. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2664.2002.00740.x
[11] Le Berre, M. and Ramousse, R. (2003) Organizing biodiversity conservation for the genus Marmota. In: Ramousse, R., Allainé, D. and Le Berre, M., Eds., Adaptive Strategies and Diversity in Marmots, International Marmot Network, Lyon, 235-244.
[12] Carr, P.H. (2013) Weather extremes from anthropogenic global warming. Natural Science, 5, 130-134. doi:10.4236/ns.2013.51A020
[13] Mein, P. (1992) Taxonomy. In: Bassano, B., Durio, P., Gallo Orsi, U. and Macchi, E., Eds., Proceedings of the 1st International Symposium on Alpine Marmot and on Genus Marmota, Torino, 6-12.
[14] Armitage, K.B. (2007) Evolution of sociality in marmots: It begins with hibernation. In: Wolff, J.O. and Sherman, P.W., Eds., Rodent Societies: An Ecological and Evolutionary Perspective, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 356-367.
[15] Armitage, K.B. and Blumstein, D.J. (2002) Body-mass diversity in marmots. In: Armitage, K.B. and Rumiantsev, V.Yu., Eds., Holarctic Marmots as a Factor of Biodiversity, ABF Publishing House, Moscow, 22-32.
[16] Armitage, K.B., Melcher, J.C. and Ward Jr., J.M. (1990) Oxygen consumption and body temperature in yellowbellied marmot populations from montane-mesic and lowland-xeric environments. Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 160, 491-502. doi:10.1007/BF00258976
[17] Armitage, K.B. (1994) Unusual mortality in a yellowbellied marmot population. In: Rumiantsev, V.Yu., Ed., Actual Problems of Marmots Investigation, ABF Publishing House, Moscow, 5-13.
[18] Liow, L.H., Fortelius, M., Lintulaakso, K., Mannila, H. and Stenseth, N.C. (2009) Lower extinction risk in sleepor-hide mammals. American Naturalist, 173, 264-272. doi:10.1086/595756
[19] Armitage, K.B. (1991) Social and population dynamics of yellow-bellied marmots: Results from long-term research. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 22, 379-407. doi:10.1146/annurev.es.22.110191.002115
[20] Armitage, K.B. (2009) Fur color diversity in marmots. Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 21, 183-194.
[21] Melcher, J.C., Armitage, K.B. and Porter, W.P. (1990) Thermal influences on the activity and energetics of yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris). Physiological Zoology, 63, 803-820.
[22] Suntsov, V.V. and Suntsova, N.I. (1991) Spatial structure of the tarbagan in Tuva. In: Bibikov, D.I., Nikolski, A.A., Rumiantsev, V.Yu. and Seredneva, T.A., Eds., Population Structure of the Marmot, USSR Theriological Society, Moscow, 217-232.
[23] Davydov, G.S. (1991) Some characters of two populations of the long-tailed marmot. In: Bibikov, D.I., Nikolski, A.A., Rumiantsev, V.Yu. and Seredneva, T.A., Eds., Population Structure of the Marmot, USSR Theriological Society, Moscow, 188-216.
[24] Van Vuren, D. and Armitage, K.B. (1991) Duration of snow cover and its influence on life-history variation in yellow-bellied marmots. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 69, 1755-1758. doi:10.1139/z91-244
[25] Armitage, K.B. (2003) Recovery of a yellow-bellied marmot population following a weather-induced decline. In: Ramousse, R., Allainé, D. and Le Berre, M., Eds., Adaptive Strategies and Diversity in Marmots, International Marmot Network, Lyon, 217-224.
[26] Johns, D.W. and Armitage, K.B. (1979) Behavioral ecology of alpine yellow-bellied marmots. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 5, 133-157. doi:10.1007/BF00293302
[27] Woods, B.C., Brown, C.L. and Cobb, M.A. (2009) Elevation variation in life-history characteristics of populations of yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris). Ethology Ecology & Evolution, 21, 381-392. doi:10.1080/08927014.2009.9522493
[28] Mosolov, V.I. and Tokarsky, V.A. (1994) The black-capped marmot (Marmota camtschatica Pall.) in the Kronotsky Reserve. In: Rumiantsev, V.Yu., Ed., Actual Problems of Marmots Investigation, ABF Publishing House, Moscow, 98-110.
[29] Arnold, W. (1993) Energetics of social hibernation. In: Carey, C., Florant, G.L., Wunder, B.A. and Horwitz, B., Eds., Life in the Cold: Biological, Physiological, and Molecular Mechanisms, Westview Press, Boulder, 65-80.
[30] Barash, D.P. (1973) The social biology of the Olympic marmot. Animal Behaviour Monographs, 6, 173-245. doi:10.1016/0003-3472(73)90002-X
[31] Griffin, S.C. (2007) Female Olympic marmots (Marmota olympus) reproduce in consecutive years. American Midland Naturalist, 158, 221-225. doi:10.1674/0003-0031(2007)158[221:FOMMOR]2.0.CO;2
[32] Karels, T.J. and Hik, D.S. (2003) Demographic responses of hoary marmots (Marmota caligata) to environmental variation. In: Ramousse, R., Allainé, D. and Le Berne, M., Eds., Adaptive Strategies and Diversity in Marmots, International Marmot Network, Lyon, 167-168.
[33] Allainé, D., Cohas, A. and Bonenfant, C. (2008) Demographic effects of climate fluctuations on an alpine marmot (Marmota marmota) population. 6th International Marmot Conference, Cogne, 3-6 September 2008, 12-13.
[34] Cushing Jr., J.E. (1945) Quaternary rodents and lagomorphs of San Josecita Cave, Nueva Leon, Mexico. Journal of Mammalogy, 26, 182-185. doi:10.2307/1375094
[35] Goodwin, H.T. (1989) Marmota flaviventis from the Central Mohave Desert of California: Biogeographic implications. The Southwestern Naturalist, 34, 284-287. doi:10.2307/3671741
[36] Kalthoff, D.C. (1999) Jungpleistozane Murmeltiere (Rodentia, Sciuridae) vom Mittelrheim (Deutschland) und ihre verwandtschaftlichen Beziehungen zu den beiden rezenten europ?ischen Anten. Staphia, 63, 119-128.
[37] Inouye, D.W., Barr, B., Armitage, K.B. and Inouye, B.D. (2000) Climate change is affecting altitudinal migrants and hibernating species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, 97, 1630-1633. doi:10.1073/pnas.97.4.1630
[38] Davis, E.B. (2005) Comparison of climate space and phylogeny of Marmota (Mammalia: Rodentia) indicates a connection between evolutionary history and climate preference. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 272, 519526. doi:10.1098/rspb.2004.2979
[39] Waltari, E. and Guralnick, R.P. (2009) Ecological niche modeling of montane mammals in the Great Basin, North America: Examining past and present connectivity of species across basins and ranges. Journal of Biogeography, 36, 148-161. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.2008.01959.x
[40] Bykova, E. and Esipov, A. (2008) Climate change impacts on population of menzbier’s marmot (Marmota menzbieri) in Uzbekistan. 6th International Marmot Conference, Tashkent, 31 August-2 September 2005, 13.
[41] Gunderson, A.M., Lanier, H.C. and Olson, L.E. (2012) Limited phylogeographic structure and genetic variations in Alaska’s arctic and alpine endemic, the Alaska marmot. Journal of Mammalogy, 93, 66-75. doi:10.1644/10-MAMM-A-380.1
[42] Griffin, S.C., Griffin, P.C., Taper, M.L. and Mills, L.S. (2009) Marmots on the move? Dispersal in a declining montane mammal. Journal of Mammalogy, 90, 686-695. doi:10.1644/08-MAMM-A-159R1.1
[43] Griffin, S.C. (2011) Personal communication.
[44] Cohas, A., Bonenfant, C., Gaillard, J.-M. and Allainé, D. (2007) Are extra-pair young better than within-pair young? A comparison of survival and dominance in alpine marmots. Journal of Animal Ecology, 76, 771-778. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2656.2007.01253.x
[45] Arnold, W. (1990) The evolution of marmot sociality: 1. Why disperse late? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 27, 229-237.
[46] Ozgul, A., Childs, D.Z., Oli, M.K., Armitage, K.B., Blumstein, D.T., Olson, L.E., Tuljapurkar, S. and Coulson, T. (2010) Coupled dynamics of body mass and population growth in response to environmental change. Nature, 466, 482-485. doi:10.1038/nature09210
[47] Blumstein, D.T. (2011) Personal communication.
[48] Bibikow, D.I. (1996) Die murmeltiere der welt. Westarp Wissenchaften, Magdeburg.
[49] Armitage, K.B. (1994) Unusual mortality in a yellowbellied marmot population. In: Rumiantev, V.Yu., Ed., Actual Problems of Marmots Investigation, ABF Publishing House, Moscow, 5-13.
[50] Lambert, A.M., Miller-Rushing, A.J. and Inouye, D.W. (2010) Changes in snowmelt and summer precipitation affect the flowering phenology of Erythronium grandiflorum (Glacier lily; Liliacae). American Journal of Botany, 97, 1431-1437. doi:10.3732/ajb.1000095
[51] Armitage, K.B. (2005) Intraspecific variation in marmots. In: Sanchez-Cordero, V. and Medellin, R.A., Eds., Contribuciones, Mastozoologicas en Homenaje a Bernardo Villa, Instituto de Biologia, UNAM, Instituto de Ecologia, UNAM, CONABIO, Mexico, 39-48.
[52] Overpeck, J. and Udall, B. (2010) Dry times ahead. Science, 328, 1642-1643. doi:10.1126/science.1186591
[53] Floyd, C.H., Van Vuren, D.H. and May, B. (2005) Marmots on Great Basin mountaintops: Using genetics to test a geographic paradigm. Ecology, 86, 2145-2153. doi:10.1890/04-1227
[54] Van Vuren, D. (1990) Dispersal of yellow-bellied marmots. Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Kansas, Lawrence.
[55] Armitage, K.B. (2003) Dynamics of immigration into yellow-bellied marmot colonies. Oecologia Montana, 12, 21-24.
[56] Schwartz, O.A., Armitage, K.B. and Van Vuren, D. (1998) A 32-year demography of yellow-bellied marmots. Journal of Zoology, London, 246, 37-346. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1998.tb00163.x

  
comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2018 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.