Index of Species Information

WILDLIFE SPECIES:  Perognathus parvus


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Perognathus parvus
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Howard, Janet L. 1996. Perognathus parvus. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : PEPA COMMON NAMES : Great Basin pocket mouse TAXONOMY : The scientific name of the Great Basin pocket mouse is Perognathus parvus (Peale). It is in the family Heteromyidae [18,19,21,26]. Subspecies of the Great Basin pocket mouse are: Perognathus parvus bullatus Durrant and Lee Perognathus parvus clarus Goldman Perognathus parvus columbianus Merriam Perognathus parvus idahoensis Goldman Perognathus parvus laingi Anderson Perognathus parvus lordi (Gray) Perognathus parvus mollipilosus Coues [18,21] Perognathus parvus olivaceus Merriam Perognathus parvus parvus (Peale) [21] Perognathus parvus trumbullensis Benson Perognathus parvus yakimensis Broadbooks [18,21] Sulentich [41] and Genoways and Brown [18] classify the yellow-eared pocket mouse as P. p. xanthonus Grinell, a subspecies of the Great pocket mouse. However, Jones and others [26] classify the yellow-eared pocket mouse as a distinct species, P. xanthonotus (Grinnell). ORDER : Rodentia CLASS : Mammal FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : The Great Basin pocket mouse has been assigned a state rank of S2* by the Montana Natural Heritage Program [37]. *imperiled because of rarity or other factors making it very vulnerable to extinction


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Perognathus parvus
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : The Great Basin pocket mouse occurs in the Columbia River and Great basins and adjacent lands. It is distributed from south-central British Columbia and eastern Washington south to southeastern California, Nevada, and northern Arizona and east to southeastern Montana and Wyoming [3,43]. Distribution of subspecies is [18,21]: Perognathus parvus bullatus: central and east-central Utah P. p. clarus: extreme southwestern Montana; southeastern Idaho; extreme north-central Utah; extreme southwestern Wyoming P. p. columbianus: central and southern Washington P. p. idahoensis: south-central Idaho P. p. laingi: south-central British Columbia P. p. lordi: extreme south-central British Columbia; central and eastern Washington; northwestern Idaho P. p. mollipilosus: south-central Oregon; north-central and northeastern California P. p. olivaceus: most of Nevada; eastern California; extreme southeastern Oregon; southern Idaho; western Colorado; most widely distributed subspecies P. p. parvus: southeastern Washington; central and eastern Oregon P. p. trumbullensis: southern Colorado; northern Arizona P. p. yakimensis: south-central Washington The yellow-eared pocket mouse occurs on the eastern slope of the Tehachipi Mountains in Kern County, California [21,43]. It is not certain whether its distribution is disjunct or joins that of P. parvus olivaceus [18]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES29 Sagebrush FRES30 Desert shrub FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub FRES35 Pinyon-juniper FRES36 Mountain grasslands STATES :

BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 5 Columbia Plateau 6 Upper Basin and Range 7 Lower Basin and Range 8 Northern Rocky Mountains 9 Middle Rocky Mountains 10 Wyoming Basin 12 Colorado Plateau KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K010 Ponderosa shrub forest K011 Western ponderosa forest K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland K034 Montane chaparral K038 Great Basin sagebrush K040 Saltbush-greasewood K041 Creosotebush K050 Fescue-wheatgrass K051 Wheatgrass-bluegrass K055 Sagebrush steppe SAF COVER TYPES : 237 Interior ponderosa pine 238 Western juniper 239 Pinyon-juniper 247 Jeffrey pine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : 101 Bluebunch wheatgrass 102 Idaho fescue 104 Antelope bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass 105 Antelope bitterbrush-Idaho fescue 106 Bluegrass scabland 107 Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass 109 Ponderosa pine shrubland 110 Ponderosa pine-grassland 210 Bitterbrush 211 Creosotebush scrub 212 Blackbush 301 Bluebunch wheatgrass-blue grama 302 Bluebunch wheatgrass-Sandberg bluegrass 303 Bluebunch wheatgrass-western wheatgrass 304 Idaho fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass 305 Idaho fescue-Richardson needlegrass 306 Idaho fescue-slender wheatgrass 307 Idaho fescue-threadleaf sedge 309 Idaho fescue-western wheatgrass 311 Rough fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass 312 Rough fescue-Idaho fescue 314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass 315 Big sagebrush-Idaho fescue 316 Big sagebrush-rough fescue 317 Bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass 318 Bitterbrush-Idaho fescue 320 Black sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass 321 Black sagebrush-Idaho fescue 323 Shrubby cinquefoil-rough fescue 401 Basin big sagebrush 402 Mountain big sagebrush 403 Wyoming big sagebrush 405 Black sagebrush 406 Low sagebrush 407 Stiff sagebrush 408 Other sagebrush types 412 Juniper-pinyon woodland 413 Gambel oak 414 Salt desert shrub 501 Saltbush-greasewood 506 Creosotebush-bursage 504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland PLANT COMMUNITIES : The Great Basin pocket mouse occupies steppes and open, arid shrublands and woodlands. It most commonly occurs in sagebrush (Artemisia spp.), shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia), and other desert shrub, and in pinyon-juniper (Pinus-Juniperus spp.) woodland. On the eastern slope of the Cascade Range and the Sierra Nevada, it occurs in ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa) and Jeffrey pine (P. jeffreyi) woodlands [18]. Riparian zones may have larger concentrations of Great Basin pocket mice than upland areas [8,9].


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Perognathus parvus
TIMING OF MAJOR LIFE HISTORY EVENTS : In late fall and winter, Great Basin pocket mice remain in their burrows in a state of torpor [33,34]. They emerge from their burrows and mate in early spring [33,34,43]. Males emerge slightly before females. In south-central Washington, Great Basin pocket mice emerged from March to April [23]. Prebreeding enlargement of ovaries and testes begins in winter in the complete darkness of the burrow. Following emergence from the burrow, the lengthening photoperiod of spring apparently triggers final enlargement and development of gonads for breeding [27]. Access to succulent green vegetation in spring may enhance reproductive success of females. Captive female Great Basin pocket mice from eastern Washington fed lettuce and seeds had significantly larger ovaries than control females fed only seeds. Great Basin pocket mice remain reproductively active through summer. Females produce one or two litters per year. Most first litters are delivered in May and second litters in August [38,43]. Reports of average litter size have ranged from 3.9 in south-central Washington [38] to 5.6 in Nevada [20]. First-litter subadults first leave the natal burrow in early summer; subadults from the second litter first emerge in fall. In a 2-year study in south-central Washington, first-litter subadults first emerged in June, and second-litter subadults first emerged in October (1974) and November (1975) [23]. As it signals the beginning of the breeding season, photoperiod may often signal its end. In the laboratory, an artificial short day-long night summer photoperiod caused gonadal shrinkage in Great Basin pocket mice. A favorable diet apparently overrides this effect, however, extending the breeding season. In nature, Great Basin pocket mice remain reproductively active through fall in years of favorable plant production. Juveniles typically breed in their second year, but first-litter individuals may first reach breeding condition before winter when plant productivity is high [27]. PREFERRED HABITAT : Great Basin pocket mice occupy open, arid terrain. They seek friable soil of a variety of textures for burrowing [5,22,42]. Home ranges of 7,060 to 9,630 square feet (656-895 sq m) have been reported for Great Basin pocket mice in British Columbia. Males may have larger home ranges than females. Average home ranges reported from south-central Washington are 23,030 square feet (2,140 sq m) and 33,640 square feet (3,125 sq m) for adult males and 15,564 square feet (1,446 sq m) for adult females [38]. In big sagebrush habitat on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Oregon, home ranges of adult males were significantly greater (p < 0.001) than home ranges of females. Reproductively active adult males had significantly (p < 0.05) larger home ranges than adult males with unenlarged testes. In black greasewood (Sarcobatus vermiculatus) habitat, however, there were no significant differences between male and female home ranges or between home ranges of reproductive and nonreproductive adult males [14]. COVER REQUIREMENTS : Great Basin pocket mice are nocturnal and use burrows for daytime cover. They also use burrows during periods of winter and summer torpor [30,32,38,43]. The winter burrow consists of a 3- to 6-foot- (0.9-1.8 m-) deep tunnel leading to a chamber lined with dry vegetation. The summer burrow is shallow. Except for mothers with young, the burrow is occupied by a single individual [43]. FOOD HABITS : Great Basin pocket mice consume primarily seeds, but eat some green vegetation [33,34]. Prior to production of seeds, they also consume insects [11]. Great Basin pocket mice do not use free water [36]; they metabolize water from food [43]. Pocket mice (Perognathus spp.) and other heteromyids are scatterhoarders: They cache seeds in shallow depressions and cover the seeds with soil. The seeds are primarily those of grass species, and some preferred forb species. Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides) [29], cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), Russian-thistle (Salsola kali), [38], antelope bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata) [16,43], pigweed (Amaranthus spp.), and mustard (Brassica spp.) [43] seeds are important Great Basin pocket mouse food items. In productive years, cheatgrass seeds formed a major portion of the diet of Great Basin pocket mice in southeastern Washington [38]. Seeds of medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae) were not used by Great Basin pocket mice in Lassen County, California, and areas with heavy medusahead invasion were avoided [29]. Estimated seed intake of a Great Basin pocket mouse is from 4 to 10 percent of total body weight daily. Assuming a wholly cheatgrass diet, an individual requires 870 to 1,000 seeds per day in spring and summer, and about 750 seeds per day in fall. Estimated daily maintenance energy requirement ranges from a winter low of 2.4 kilocalories (males) and 2.6 kilocalories (females) to a high of 7.0 kilocalories (males) and 6.6 kilocalories (females) in spring. A total of about 1.8 to 2.1 ounces (50-60 g) of seed must be cached to meet the winter energy requirement [38]. To conserve energy when food is scarce in summer, Great Basin pocket mice often enter a state of torpor that lasts a few hours [23,38]. Great Basin pocket mice are fairly successful at finding buried seed caches, even those buried by other individuals. In a laboratory experiment, Great Basin pocket mice found Indian ricegrass seeds 17.5 percent of the time when researchers cached seeds 1.3 centimeters below ground; 42.5 percent of the time when seeds were cached 0.6 centimeter below ground; and 100 percent of the time when seeds were scattered on the soil surface [25]. PREDATORS : Owls (Tytonidae and Strigidae) [43], including northern saw-whet owls (Aegolius acadicus) [8] and burrowing owls (Speotyto cunicularia) [24], hawks (Accipitridae) [43], coyotes (Canis latrans) [12,40], foxes (Vulpes and Urocyon spp.), weasels and skunks (Mustelidae), and snakes (Serpentes) [43] prey on Great Basin pocket mice. MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : As scatterhoarders, Great Basin pocket mice and other heteromyids have great ecological importance. Some native desert plant species including Indian ricegrass, antelope bitterbrush, and palo verde (Cercidium microphyllum) have no seed appendages to facilitate dispersal, and apparently require heteromyids for seed dispersal [29]. Many seed caches of these granivores are not consumed, and unconsumed seed in caches has a greater probability of germinating and establishing than does uncached seed. McAdoo and Klebenow [32] found that Indian ricegrass seeds from scatterhoards often had 100 percent germination. This is probably because only seeds with filled seedcoats were cached, and because seedcoats are often cracked and embryos germinate more easily when seeds are handled by heteromyids. Furthermore, scatterhoards are not vulnerable to bird and ant granivores [29]. Schreiber [38] concluded that Great Basin pocket mice probably do not reduce cheatgrass importance in southeastern Washington even though they consume large numbers of cheatgrass seeds. Surviving cheatgrass plants have reduced competition for soil nutrients and water, and respond with increased seed production. Disturbance tends to favor Great Basin pocket mice, especially when the disturbance favors growth of herbaceous species. In Oregon, Great Basin pocket mouse populations were greater in logged than in unlogged forest [4]. In southern Utah, populations were larger in pinyon-juniper (Pinus-Juniperus spp.) chained and seeded to grasses than in untreated pinyon-juniper [1]. Grass seeding attracts Great Basin pocket mice to scattered seed and later, to new herbaceous growth [2]. Light- to moderate-intensity livestock grazing apparently does not reduce Great Basin pocket mouse numbers. In Nevada, populations were actually larger in riparian zones grazed by cattle than in ungrazed riparian zones [9]. In northwestern Nevada, Oldemeyer and Allen-Johnson [35] found no significant differences between in Great Basin pocket mouse abundance on ungrazed sites and on an allotment subjected to a light-to-moderate-use deferred grazing system.


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Perognathus parvus
DIRECT FIRE EFFECTS ON ANIMALS : Fire has little direct effect on fossorial mammals in their burrows [22]. Since Great Basin pocket mice are mostly active at night at all times of the year, and tend to aestivate during the hot, dry periods when wildfire usually occurs, fire probably has little direct impact on Great Basin pocket mice. HABITAT RELATED FIRE EFFECTS : Great Basin pocket mice tend to converge on recent burns. They were abundant in early stages of plant succession following wildfire in a big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) community in Washoe County, Nevada. Great Basin pocket mice comprised 67 percent of all rodents present on burned sites and 55 percent of all rodents present on unburned sites (averaged over postfire years 1-3) [29]. In a short-term study in Lava Beds National Park, California, Great Basin pocket mice were most abundant on burned sites following June prescribed burning of a western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis)-antelope bitterbrush-curlleaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius) community. During the first 2 postfire months, 26 Great Basin pocket mice were trapped on the burn and 16 were trapped on the unburned control. By September, Great Basin pocket mouse use of burned and unburned areas was about equal (13 and 12 trappings, respectively) [15]. Great Basin pocket mouse populations can increase greatly when fire is followed by favorable precipitation the next growing season. A wildfire in pristine big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) on 13 August, 1973, was followed by above-average precipitation (330 mm in 1974 compared to 120 mm in 1973) and high plant productivity in 1974. The Great Basin pocket mouse population had been censused prior to the wildfire. The number of individuals trapped on transects in 1973 and 1974 was [22]: 1973 1974 __________________________ June: 20* June: 15 Oct: 4 Oct: 150 Nov: 0 Nov: 130 __________________________ *prefire census Prescribed fire apparently slightly reduced Great Basin pocket mouse abundance in a singleleaf pinyon-Utah juniper (Pinus monophylla- Juniperus osteosperma) community in east-central Nevada. Average number of Great Basin pocket mice caught on transects was [31]: Burn Burned Unburned ecotone ___________________________________________________ postfire year 1 0.5 0.8 --- postfire year 2 1.3 1.8 1.3 ___________________________________________________ Cheatgrass: Fire in cheatgrass can favor Great Basin pocket mice when fire is followed by above-average precipitation. On the Columbia River plain of south-central Washington, Brandt and Rickard [6] found Great Basin pocket mouse numbers were greater in recently burned areas (3 years since wildfire) dominated almost exclusively by cheatgrass than in big sagebrush-cheatgrass areas. Great Basin pocket mouse numbers were greatest, however, in antelope bitterbrush-Indian ricegrass communities. Numbers were probably greatest in the native plant community because cheatgrass production is unpredictable. Although it is often high, it can be very low in dry years. Gano and Rickard [16] found Great Basin pocket mice had greater long-term survival rates in shrub-native grass stands than in cheatgrass stands. Following a 1963 wildfire that burned 10,095 acres (4,038 ha) of an antelope bitterbrush-big sagebrush community in south-central Washington, and a 1973 repeat wildfire that consumed even more acreage, burned areas become dominated by cheatgrass. From 1974 to 1979, a Great Basin pocket mouse population on the burn showed greater year-to-year fluctuation than a population on the unburned control. By spring 1978, Great Basin pocket mice were estimated to be 3 times more abundant on unburned areas than on burned areas. In 1978, following a year of low plant productivity due to drought, 15 Great Basin pocket mice were trapped on the unburned control, while only one individual was trapped on the burn [16]. Eight years after wildfire on the Doyle Wildlife Management Area near Reno, Nevada, the burned area was dominated by cheatgrass, skeleton weed (Lygodesmia spinosa), buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum), and desert peach (Prunus andersonii). Unburned areas were dominated by antelope bitterbrush, big sagebrush, and desert peach. Great Basin pocket mouse density was greater on unburned areas than on burned areas. Fifteen individuals were trapped on an unburned area, while only one individual was trapped on the burn [10]. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes".


WILDLIFE SPECIES: Perognathus parvus
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The mammals of North America. 2nd ed. Volume I. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 600 p. [26447] 22. Hedlund, J. D.; Rickard, W. H. 1981. Wildfire and the short-term response of small mammals inhabiting a sagebrush-bunchgrass community. Murrelet. 62: 10-14. [1114] 23. Hedlund, J. D.; Rogers, L. E. 1980. Great Basin pocket mice (Perognathus parvus) in the vicinity of radioactive waste management areas. Northwest Science. 54(2): 153-159. [26871] 24. Henny, Charles J.; Blus, Lawrence J. 1981. Artificial burrows provide new insight into burrowing owl nesting biology. Raptor Research. 15(3): 82-85. [26112] 25. Johnson, Terrell K.; Jorgensen, Clive D. 1981. Ability of desert rodents to find buried seeds. Journal of Range Management. 34(4): 312-314. [5059] 26. Jones, J. Knox, Jr.; Hoffmann, Robert S.; Rice, Dale W.; [and others]. 1992. Revised checklist of North American mammals north of Mexico, 1991. Occasional Papers No. 146. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University, The Museum. 6 p. [22160] 27. 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Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station; Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 237 p. [1544] 31. Mason, Robert B. 1981. Response of birds and rodents to controlled burning in pinyon-juniper woodlands. Reno, NV: University of Nevada. 55 p. Thesis. [1545] 32. McAdoo, J. Kent; Klebenow, Donald A. 1979. Native faunal relationships in sagebrush ecosystems. In: The sagebrush ecosystem: a symposium: Proceedings; 1978 April; Logan, UT. Logan, UT: Utah State University, College of Natural Resources: 50-61. [1562] 33. O'Farrell, Michael J. 1978. Home range dynamics of rodents in a sagebrush community. Journal of Mammalogy. 59(4): 657-668. [1788] 34. O'Farrell, Thomas P.; Olson, Richard J.; Gilbert, Richard O.; Hedlund, John D. 1975. A population of Great Basin pocket mice, Perognathus parvus, in the shrub-steppe of south-central Washington. Ecological Monographs. 45: 1-28. [26872] 35. Oldemeyer, John L.; Allen-Johnson, Lydia R. 1988. Cattle grazing and small mammals on the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada. In: Szaro, Robert C.; Severson, Kieth E.; Patton, David R., technical coordinators. Management of amphibians, reptiles, and small mammals in North America: Proceedings of the symposium; 1988 July 19-21; Flagstaff, AZ. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-166. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 391-398. [7128] 36. Price, M. V.; Brown, J. H. 1983. Patterns of morphology and resource use in North American desert rodent communities. Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs. 7: 117-134. [25706] 37. Reichel, J. D. 1996. Montana animal species of special concern. [Unpublished list]. Helena, MT: Montana Natural Heritage Program. 11 p. [26873] 38. Schreiber, R. Kent. 1978. Bioengergetics of the Great Basin pocket mouse, Perognathus parvus. Acta Theriologica. 23(32): 469-487. [26874] 39. Shiflet, Thomas N., ed. 1994. Rangeland cover types of the United States. Denver, CO: Society for Range Management. 152 p. [23362] 40. Springer, Joseph Tucker. 1982. Movement patterns of coyotes in south central Washington. Journal of Wildlife Management. 46(1): 191-200. [25117] 41. Sulentich, J. M. 1983. The systematics and evolution of the Perognathus parvus species group in southern California. Long Beach, CA: California State University. 85 p. Thesis. [27111] 42. Verner, Jared; Boss, Allan S., tech. coords. 1980. California wildlife and their habitats: western Sierra Nevada. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-37. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 439 p. [10237] 43. Whitaker, John O., Jr. 1980. National Audubon Society field guide to North American mammals. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 745 p. [25194]