Field Guide to Mammals
of Southern California
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Mt. Pinos Lodgepole Chipmunk (Tamias speciosus callipeplus)
Distribution of Mount Pinos lodgepole chipmunk is restricted to the upper slopes and summits of Mt. Pinos, Mt. Abel, and Mt. Frazier in the southern Los Padres ranges (Williams 1986). It is generally found at elevations of 6,000 feet (1,829 meters) on north-facing slopes to 8,800 feet (2,682 meters) in open, coniferous forest (Williams 1986). Historic records for Mount Pinos lodgepole chipmunk are known for Mt. Pinos at 8,800 feet (2,682 meters), 1 mile northeast of Mt. Pinos at 8,000 feet (2,438 meters), and 3 miles northwest of Frazier Borax Mine at 8,100 feet (2,469 meters) in Ventura County (Hall 1981). Mount Pinos lodgepole chipmunk occurs almost entirely on the Los Padres National Forest near the Kern/Ventura County line.
Hall (1981) recognized four subspecies of lodgepole chipmunk (Tamias speciosus) in California (identified as Eutamias speciousus by Hall). T. s. frater and T. s. sequoiensis are found in northern and?central California, and T. s. speciosus and Mount Pinos lodgepole chipmunk occur in southern portions of the state. Because Mount Pinos lodgepole chipmunk is an isolated subspecies restricted to Mt. Pinos, Mt. Frazier, and Mt. Abel on the Los Padres National Forest (Williams 1986), Mount Pinos lodgepole chipmunk and T. s. speciosus do not overlap in range.
Throughout their range, lodgepole chipmunks are generally found in open-canopy forests with a mix of shrubs and trees (Williams 1986). They are common in lodgepole pine forests (although there are no lodgepole pines within the range of this subspecies) but also occur in open-canopy stages of other forest habitats, including white fir, red fir, Jeffrey pine, and mixed conifer. They appear to avoid pure stands of conifers, preferring an understory shrub component (Stephenson and Calcarone 1999). White fir is probably an important tree species associated with the forest habitat of Mount Pinos Lodgepole chipmunk (Williams 1986). Mount Pinos lodgepole chipmunks are found around old logs, rock outcroppings and other debris. The lodgepole chipmunk seems to favor a balance point between a forest floor that is too barren with widely scattered trees and one that has a dense canopy and an abuandance of dead and down material. Rock crevasses and old logs are required for protection from predators and are used as nesting sites. Trees are also an important habitat component. The lodgepole chipmunks are perhaps the best climbers of any of the chipmunks and they readily use trees as an escape route. Occasionally an existing cavity may be used as a nesting site, but more often nests are concealed under rocks or in rock crevasses. Habitat capability does not appear to be influenced by topographic features such as slope gradient or exposure (Los Padres National Forest 2003).
The breeding season of lodgepole chipmunk occurs in May and June, about 1 month after emerging from hibernation, and lasts approximately 4 weeks (Best and others 1994). This species produces one litter a year, and the number of young ranges from 3–6. Young reproduce the following spring (Best and others 1994).
Lodgepole chipmunks are secretive and diurnal (Best and others 1994). They are generally arboreal, using trees for refuge, as observation posts, and for nest sites (Zeiner 1990). In the laboratory, this species enters hibernation late October-November and emerges in mid-April. They arouse every 1-2 days near the beginning and end of hibernation, but remain dormant for periods of 5-6 days during the rest of their hibernation period. Lodgepole chipmunks hibernate in nests built in stumps, logs, and cracks and crevices of rock piles (Best and others 1994).
Diet and Foraging
There is little information on the diet of the Mount Pinos subspecies, but lodgepole chipmunks in other parts of the state are generally omnivorous, eating seeds of grasses, forbs, and trees; fruits and berries; insects; picnic scraps; and carrion. Lodgepole chipmunks also eat fungi, which comprise 32 percent of the annual dietary volume (Best and others 1994). During summer and autumn, lodgepole chipmunks devote much of their time to gathering food from the ground and in shrubs and trees. Food is collected in external cheek pouches and later cached beneath old logs, in rock piles, and in forks and foliage of trees (Best and others 1994).
The average home ranges for lodgepole chipmunks in California are 3.68 acres (1.49 hectares) for adult males, 3.16 acres (1.28 hectares) for breeding females, and 3.95 acres (1.60 hectares) for young females. In Yosemite National Park, the average home range was found to be 6.42 acres (2.60 hectares) (Best and others 1994).
Common predators of lodgepole chipmunks include coyote, foxes, bobcat, marten, Cooper's hawk, and red-tailed hawk (Best and others 1994, Zeiner 1990).
Best, T.L.; Clawson, R.G.; Clawson, J.A. 1994. Tamias speciosus. Mammalian Species 478: 1-9. Published by the American Society of Mammalogists.
Hall, E.R. 1981. The mammals of North America. 2d ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Los Padres National Forest. 2003. Mount Pinos lodgepole chipmunk species account. Los Padres National Forest, Goleta, CA.
Stephenson, J.R.; Calcarone, G.M. 1999. Southern California mountains and foothills assessment: Habitat and species conservation issues. General Technical Report GTR-PSW-172. Albany, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Williams, D.F. 1986. Mammalian species of concern in California. California Department of Fish and Game Report 86-1. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Fish and Game.
Zeiner, D.C.; Laudenslayer, W.F., Jr.; Meyer, K.E.; White, M., eds. 1990. California's wildlife. Volume III: Mammals. California statewide wildlife habitat relationships system. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Fish and Game.
Information gathered from California DFG - California Interagency Wildlife Task Group