Museum Blog

Southern Idaho - new species of chipmunk?

Posted 10/1/2011 12:10 AM by John Demboski | Comments

Off to the Snake River Plain in southern Idaho next week to collect specimens of Tamias amoenus cratericus for genetic work. This is a subspecies of yellow-pine chipmunk that is found in and around Craters of the Moon National Monument.  Over the last decade, we've discovered that its genetics and morphology appear distinct relative to the other two chipmunks found in the region, Tamias minimus and Tamias amoenus amoenus.

One interesting find is that the baculum, the male genital bone, in T. a. cratericus is distinct. Since there is strong interspecific differentiation among bacula in the 23 species of western chipmunks, distinctive bacular morphology has been suggested to be a hallmark of reproductive isolation.  Check them out above, the scale is in mm.

We'll see.

Supported by the National Science Foundation.

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