Mammalian Fauna


The mammalian fauna of Red Butte Canyon is remarkably diverse, due in part to the altitudinal gradient and numerous small patches of various plant communities indigenous to the area. A particularly rich small mammal fauna is associated with the patches of riparian habitat along Red Butte Creek and its tributaries. Prior to the run-off of 1983, riparian habitats were much more extensively developed than at present. Numerous marshy meadows existed in association with large, active beaver dams prior to 1982. The loss of active beaver dams in the early 1980s has doubtless greatly reduced the populations of small mammals that are restricted to the mesic-marshy habitats of the canyon.

Nonetheless, based on the altitudinal gradient and vegetational diversity of Red Butte Canyon, a total of 51 species of mammals should hypothetically occur there. To the right is a list of the 39 species of mammals known to occur in Red Butte Canyon.



Some of the larger species have been observed only occasionally, such as the bobcat, mountain lion, and moose. But others such as the mule deer, elk, and coyote are observed with high frequency at some seasons. A rather rich rodent fauna inhabits the canyon, with many of the species preferentially occupying the moist riparian communities of grasses, forbs, and shrubs. Thus, the red-backed vole, heather vole, montane vole, long-tailed vole, water vole, and jumping mouse are virtually restricted to the small mesic meadows along Red Butte Creek and its tributaries. Similarly, the three species of shrews in the canyon are distributed almost exclusively in the riparian habitats.

In some larger meadows, such as along Parleys Fork and at Porcupine Gulch, the microtine rodents are distributed in a strongly zonal pattern. Long-tailed voles are found in the driest parts of the meadows, montane voles in the more mesic areas where grasses, sedges, and forbs comprise a diverse community, and water voles in the immediate streamside area, their burrows often entering the bank at the water's edge. Red-backed voles and heather voles are typically found around the bases of willows in the meadows, as well as around the edges of conifers at higher elevations.

A few species are found only at higher elevations in association with Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir) and Populus tremuloides (aspen). These include the red squirrel, Uinta ground squirrel, yellow-bellied marmot, and least chipmunk. The oak-mountain mahogany zone seems to be the preferred habitat of the rock squirrel and perhaps the ring-tailed cat as well. Several dissertations dealing with the ecology and physiological adaptations of shrews, microtine rodents, and jumping mice have utilized study sites in Red Butte Canyon (Forslund 1972, Cranford 1977).
Mammalian Fauna

Insectivora - Soricidae
S. palustris, water shrew
S. vagrans, wandering shrew
S. cinereus, masked shrew
Chiroptera - Vespertilionadae
E. fuscus, big brown bat
Lagomorpha - Leporidae
L. townsendii, white-tailed jackrabbit
S. nuttallii, Nuttall cottontail
Rodentia - Sciuridae
T. hudsonicus, red squirrel
M. flaviventer, yellow-bellied marmot
S. armatus, Uinta ground squirrel
S. variegatus, rock squirrel
E. minimus, least chipmunk
G. sabrinus, northern flying squirrel
Rodentia - Geomyidae
T. talpoides, northern pocket gopher
T. bottae, botta pocket gopher
Rodentia - Castoridae
C. canadensis, beaver
Rodentia - Muridae
R. megalotis, western harvest mouse
P. maniculatus, deer mouse
P. boylii, brush mouse
C. gapperi, red-backed vole
O. zibethicus, muskrat
P. intermedius, heather vole
M. montanus, montane vole
M. longicaudus, long-tailed vole
A. richardsoni, water vole
Rodentia - Zapodidae
Z. princeps, western jumping mouse
Rodentia - Erethizontidae
E. dorsatum, porcupine
Carnivora - Canidae
C. latrans, coyote
Carnivora - Procyonidae
B. astutus, ring-tailed cat
P. lotor, racoon
Carnivora - Mustelidae
M. frenata, long-tailed weasel
M. erminea, ermine
M. vison, mink
T. taxus, badger
M. mephitis, striped skunk
Carnivora - Felidae
L. rufus, bobcat
F. concolor, mountain lion
Artiodactyla - Cervidae
C. canadensis, elk
O. heminous, mule deer
A. americanus, moose