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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Sagebrush Vole - Lemmiscus curtatus

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:


 

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State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Species is apparently secure and not at risk of extirpation or facing significant threats in all or most of its range.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Sagebrush Vole (Lemmiscus curtatus) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 05/03/2018
    View State Conservation Rank Criteria
    Range Extent

    ScoreG - 200,000-2,500,000 km squared (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)

    Comment310,064 square Kilometers from Natural Heritage Program range maps

    Long-term Trend

    ScoreE - Relatively Stable (±25% change)

    CommentHabitat is likely stable within +/- 25% since European settlement

    Short-term Trend

    ScoreU - Unknown. Short-term trend in population, range, area occupied, and number and condition of occurrences unknown.

    CommentNo data on trends available

    Threats

    ScoreE - Localized substantial threat. Threat is moderate to severe for a small but significant proportion of the population or area.

    CommentDegradation/ development of sagebrush steppe

    SeverityModerate - Major reduction of species population or long-term degradation or reduction of habitat in Montana, requiring 50-100 years for recovery.

    CommentSagebrush regeneration can take 50-100 years

    ScopeLow - 5-20% of total population or area affected

    CommentRange is relatively large, so impacts to majority of population unlikely

    ImmediacyLow - Threat is likely to be operational within 5-20 years.

    CommentGiven current commodity prices, conversion of sagebrush to agriculture is not profitable, but this may change in the next 5-20 years

    Intrinsic Vulnerability

    ScoreC - Not Intrinsically Vulnerable. Species matures quickly, reproduces frequently, and/or has high fecundity such that populations recover quickly (< 5 years or 2 generations) from decreases in abundance; or species has high dispersal capability such that extirpated populations soon become reestablished through natural recolonization (unaided by humans).

    CommentNot Intrinsically Vulnerable. Species matures quickly, reproduces frequently, and/or has a high fecundity such that populations recover quickly (< 5 years or 2 generations) from decreases in abundance. Species has good dispersal capabilities such that e

    Environmental Specificity

    ScoreB - Narrow. Specialist. Specific habitat(s) or other abiotic and/or biotic factors (see above) are used or required by the Element, but these key requirements are common and within the generalized range of the species within the area of interest.

    CommentFound in association with sagebrush dominated shrublands

    Raw Conservation Status Score

    Score 3.5 + 0 (geographic distribution) + 0 (environmental specificity) + 0 (long-term trend) + 0 (threats) = 3.5

 
General Description
A medium-sized vole under an ounce in weight, the Sagebrush Vole measures between 4 1/4 and 5 5/8 inches, including its furry, dusky- and white-colored tail. It has thick, pale gray fur, darker above, whitish, silvery, or buffy below. Some individuals may have touches of buff color on their ears or noses (Zeveloff and Collett 1988). The feet are white to light gray, thickly covered with fur, with the hind feet being equivalent in length to the short tail (Foresman 2012).

Species Range
Montana Range

Year-round

Western Hemisphere Range

 


Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 104

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)



Migration
Non-migratory.

Habitat
Sagebrush flats (Lampe et al. 1974). Associated with Artemisia spp., particularly Artemisia tridentata (Hoffmann and Pattie 1968). Also may be found in denser vegetation; constructs poorly defined runways. May use dry cattle chips for temporary shelter (Jones et al. 1983).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (common or occasional) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of "observations versus availability of habitat".
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were listed as associated with an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not listed as associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  Common versus occasional association with an ecological system was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species as represented in scientific literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignment of common versus occasional association.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Senior Zoologist.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species' known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2012.  Mammals of Montana.  Second edition.  Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana.  429 pp.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana's amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Leaves, stems, flowers or immature fruits of grasses and forbs. Sagebrush and rabbit brush leaves, inner bark of shrubs in winter and even undigested plant residues in cattle chips when other foods are scarce (Jones et al. 1983).

Ecology
Mobile colonies - occupies deep snow cover areas in winter, south-facing slopes in spring, lower elevations in summer. Highly developed hearing. Not active in strong winds. Numerous predators (Jones et al. 1983).

Reproductive Characteristics
Females and males mature at 1 to 2 months age. Litter size may be correlated with precipitation and available vegetation. Young are altricial at birth; weaned at about 18 days of age.

References
  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Foresman, K.R. 2012. Mammals of Montana. Second edition. Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana. 429 pp.
    • Hoffmann, R.S. and D.L. Pattie. 1968. A guide to Montana mammals: identification, habitat, distribution, and abundance. University of Montana, Missoula. 133 pp.
    • Jones, J.K., D.M. Armstrong, R.S. Hoffmann and C. Jones. 1983. Mammals of the northern Great Plains. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. 379 pp.
    • Lampe, R.P., J.K. Jones Jr., R.S. Hoffmann, and E.C. Birney. 1974. The mammals of Carter County, southeastern Montana. Occa. Pap. Mus. Nat. Hist. Univ. Kan. 25:1-39.
    • Zeveloff, S.I. and F.R. Collett. 1988. Mammals of the Intermountain west. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Allen, K.L., T. Weaver, and D. Flath. 1994. Small mammals in Northern Rocky Mountain ecosystems. Unpubl. report to Bureau of Land Management and United States Forest Service, August 31, 1994. Montana State Univ., Bozeman. 54 pp.
    • Atkinson, E.C. 1992. Ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis) inventories on the Dillon Resource Area of southwest Montana: 1992. Montana Natural Heritage Program for Bureau of Land Management, Dillon Resource Area. 34 pp.
    • Bachen, D.A. 2014. Cheatgrass invasion of sagebrush steppe: Impacts of vegetation structure on small mammals. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 96 p.
    • Butts, T.W., Western Technology and R.L. Eng. 1993. Continental Lime Indian Creek Mine, Townsend, MT. Life of Mine Wildlife Reconnaissance. In Life-of-Mine Amendment. Continental Lime, Inc., Indian Creek Mine & Plant. Vol. 2. October 13, 1992.
    • Carlsen, T. 1980. Small mammal trapping in the Elkhorns. [Unpublished report]. 7 pp.
    • Carroll, L. E. and H. H. Genoways. 1980. Lagurus curtatus. Mamm. Species 124:1-6.
    • Fjell, Alan K., and Brian R. Mahan, compilers., 1984, Peabody Coal Company Big Sky Mine, Rosebud County, MT. Wildlife monitoring report: 1983 field season. February 1984.
    • Foresman, K.R. 2001. The wild mammals of Montana. American Society of Mammalogists, Special Publication Number 12. Lawrence, KS. 278 pp.
    • Hanauska-Brown, L., B.A. Maxell, A. Petersen, and S. Story. 2014. Diversity Monitoring in Montana 2008 – 2010 Final Report. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Helena, MT. 78 pp.
    • Hoffmann, R.S., P.L. Wright, and F.E. Newby. 1969. The distribution of some mammals in Montana. I. Mammals other than bats. Journal of Mammalogy 50(3): 579-604.
    • Kritzman, E.B. 1977. Little mammals of the Pacific Northwest. Pacific Search Press, Seattle, WA.
    • MacCracken, J.G., D.W. Uresk, and R.M. Hansen. 1985. Rodent-vegetation relationships in southeastern Montana. Northwest Science 59:272-278.
    • Reid, F. 2006. Peterson Field Guide to Mammals of North America, 4th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston and New York, 608 pp.
    • Scow, K.L. 1981. Ecological distribution of small mammals at Sarpy Creek, Montana, with special consideration of the Deer Mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 73 p.
    • Sieg, C.H., D.W. Uresk, and R M. Hansen. 1986. The value of bentonite mine spoils in southeastern Montana as small mammal habitat. Northwest Science 60(4): 218-224.
    • Trout, R.G. 1978. Small mammal abundance and distribution in the Missouri River Breaks, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 64 p.
    • Tschache, O.P. 1970. Effects of ecological changes induced by various sagebrush control techniques on small mammal populations. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 51 p.
    • VTN Colorado, Inc. Decker Coal Company., 1975, Draft environmental impact assessment for the proposed North Extension of the West Decker Mine.
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Sagebrush Vole — Lemmiscus curtatus.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from