Richardson's Ground Squirrels

Glossary

Terms used in describing the biology of Richardson's ground squirrels
(also known as gophers)

Diurnal
active during daylight hours (as opposed to nocturnal, which means active at night-time)
Ectoparasite
parasites, such as fleas, ticks, and lice, that live on the surface of the host's body
Endoparasite
parasites, such as tapeworms and trypanosomes, that live inside the host's body
Estrus
the period during which a female is receptive to males and is about to ovulate
Hibernaculum
underground chamber filled with grass nesting material in which an animal hibernates (plural: hibernacula)
 Matriarchal
social organization based on kinship through the maternal line (as opposed to patriarchal, which is based on kinship through the paternal line)
Myiasis
infestation of living tissue by fly maggots (from the Greek work myia for fly)
Obligate
necessary requirement (rather than a choice = facultative).  Obligate hibernators must hibernate during their annual cycle
Operational sex ratio
sex ratio calculated on the basis of only those animals of both sexes available for mating on a given day. Thus, the operational sex ratio includes only females in estrus and excludes females that are already pregnant or are not yet in estrus. For Richardson's ground squirrels, all males in the population are reproductively active, with spermatogenic testes, throughout the several-week mating season, whereas each female is in estrus for about 2 hours on 1 day in the mating season.
Parturition
act of giving birth to offspring
Recrudescence
developing again after a dormant period.  In seasonal breeders such as Richardson's ground squirrels, males' testes regress after the mating season then undergo recrudescence before the next mating season. The testes enlarge, start producing sperm, and descend into the scrotum
Senescent
growing old; past prime condition.  Senescent vegetation is the dried vegetation remaining from the previous growing season
Sciurid
rodent belonging to the Family Sciuridae; includes ground squirrels, antelope squirrels, marmots, prairie dogs, chipmunks, tree squirrels, and flying squirrels
Torpor
dormant state, lasting from a few days to several weeks, that occurs naturally during hibernation and is characterized by reduced respiration and heart rate, slow metabolism, cool body temperature, and inactivity; the animal spontaneously rewarms to normal body temperature for a brief period (usually less than 24 hours), then goes back into another torpor bout
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