The isolated Striped Ground Squirrel in Morocco

The most known and widespread squirrel in Morocco is the Barbary Ground Squirrel (Atlantoxerus getulus) which is endemic to Northwest Africa (Morocco and western Algerian). There is however another less known and localized squirrel in the Souss Valley on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, the Striped Ground Squirrel (Euxerus erythropus). This species is widely distributed and much more known in sub-Saharan Africa, but its small and isolated population in the Palearctic remains relatively unknown by many observers (there are some exceptions though, see trip reports).

A recent study published in the journal Mammalia obtained more data about the species in Morocco. Hopefully this will lead to more people paying attention to it (both conservationists in Morocco and eco-tourists).

A summary, photos and a link to the study here:
http://www.magornitho.org/2017/12/striped-ground-squirrel-morocco/

2 Comments
  1. Profile photo of Vladimir Dinets
    Vladimir Dinets 11 months ago

    I’ve always wondered if that population is actually introduced. I hope somebody does a DNA study to find out.

    • Profile photo of Mohamed Amezian Author
      Mohamed Amezian 3 months ago

      This remains a possibility and the study authors are also aware of. Here is a quote:

      “The hypothesis on the origin of the Moroccan isolate is testable using appropriate genetic markers. This would necessitate a new approach with an extensive geographic sampling in the Sahelian zone and beyond, where a putative ancestral population may occur”.

      Until this is tested genetically, I think wild origin is also very possible. The Souss region, where the species occurs, is known to harbor several species of Afro-tropical affinities and the Striped Ground Squirrel could well be one of them. The well-known example is the Argan tree (Argania spinosa) which is endemic to this area of Morocco and small area in Algeria but belongs to a family of mainly tropical trees. There are also examples of bird species, e.g. Dark Chanting Goshawk (Melierax metabates) which is present north of the Sahara only in this region.

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