Great Basin Naturalist


A five-year study of Belding ground squirrels was conducted at high altitude in the Sierra Nevada. Body weight and body length varied seasonally depending upon the fat depletion-deposition cycle, age, and sex. Adult males tended to be heavier and longer than adult females, particularly in the last half of the active season. A similar pattern was present in yearlings. Yearling squirrels were often distinguishable from adults on the basis of body size. Mean body weights were greater in adults throughout the season, and mean body lengths were greater in adults through the first half of the season. Adults also had larger internal organs than yearlings at the beginning of the season. In liver and heart this difference was sustained. Sex ratios in adults and in yearlings were 1:1 but there was considerable spatial and temporal asymmetry in distribution of the sexes. Males tended to live in areas peripheral to lush meadows occupied by females and young.