Annual Cycle of Activity, Reproduction, and Body Mass of Anatolian Ground Squirrels (Spermophilus Xanthoprymnus) in Turkey
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Over a 3-year period (1999-2001), we monitored the annual timing of reproduction and hibernation and accompanying changes in body mass of free-living Anatolian ground squirrels (Spermophilus xanthoprymnus) in steppe habitat about 50 km south of Ankara, Turkey. Adult males emerged from hibernation during March, before breeding females. Yearling males emerged with adult males in 2000 but not in 2001. Yearlings of both sexes and adult females were at their lowest body mass of the active season at emergence. Adult males were 139-205% heavier than other age and sex classes when they emerged. Their body mass was near the lowest of the active season at the end of mating season. All adult males had descended testes at emergence, and most yearling males were reproductively active after their 1st hibernation. Females mated shortly after their emergence from hibernation and weaned only 1 litter each year. Females 1st reproduced as yearlings. Parturition occurred in April, and juveniles appeared aboveground from mid- to late May. Thereafter, all age and sex classes were simultaneously active until immergence. In each year, juveniles immerged into hibernation after nonjuveniles. Thus, the annual cycle of Anatolian ground squirrels resembles generally those of most species of hibernating ground squirrels in Europe and North America.