Microdipodops megacephalus - Merriam, 1891
Dark Kangaroo Mouse
Other English Common Names: dark kangaroo mouse
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Microdipodops megacephalus Merriam, 1891 (TSN 180252)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.103824
Element Code: AMAFD02010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Rodents
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Rodentia Heteromyidae Microdipodops
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/msw/.
Concept Reference Code: B93WIL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Microdipodops megacephalus
Taxonomic Comments: The sibling species M. megacephalus and M. pallidus are now believed to represent rather ancient lineages that diverged about 8 million years ago (Hafner et al. 2007). M. megacephalus is made up of four allopatric genetic clades: an eastern clade in eastern Nevada and western Utah; a central clade in Nevada (with an isolate in the Mono Basin straddling the Nevada-California border); a western clade in northwestern Nevada, northeastern California, and southern Oregon; and a small isolated clade in southern Idaho (Hafner and Upham 2011). These populations show surprisingly large genetic divergence in mitochondrial DNA, and may represent cryptic species (Hafner and Upham 2011). This divergence has been confirmed using nuclear microsatellite DNA analysis, although small sample size made it difficult to separate out the Idaho isolate (Andersen et al. 2013). There is, however, no correspondence between the genetic differentiation among clades and the morphological subspecies described within M. megacephalus and summarized by Hall (1941).

Hall's (1981) suggestion that subspecies leucotis may warrant specific status was not supported by Hafner and Hafner (1983).

Hafner et al. (2006) studied the morphology and genetics of M. megacephalus nasutus and M. megacephalus polionotus in the Mono Basin and came to the conclusion that they represented one taxon with a clinal change in morphology. The northern form, M. m. nasutus, is relatively large and dark, and M. m. polionotus is relatively small and pale. They recognize a single subspecies, M. m. polionotus, and place M. m. nasutus into synonymy.
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 07Mar2005
Global Status Last Changed: 07Mar2005
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N4 (07Mar2005)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States California (SNR), Idaho (S1), Nevada (S2), Oregon (S4?), Utah (S3)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Western United States; southeastern Oregon, northeastern and central-eastern California, Nevada, southwestern Idaho, and west-central Utah.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Some Microdipodops populations have declined as a result of introduction of weedy grasses and extreme habitat alteration from cultivation (e.g., irrigation of dry sinks) (Hafner et al. 1998). In addition to these human-related habitat changes, apparently natural shifts in vegetative zones have resulted in the replacement of rodent communities including Microdipodops by those including Dipodomys deserti, and vice versa (J. C. Hafner, pers. obs.). Natural and human-related habitat modifications may have amplified effects on the already fragmented, patchy distribution of Microdipodops (Hafner et al. 1998).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: Western United States; southeastern Oregon, northeastern and central-eastern California, Nevada, southwestern Idaho, and west-central Utah.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: endemic to a single nation

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CA, ID, NV, OR, UT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: Sechrest, 2002

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
ID Owyhee (16073)
NV Lincoln (32017)*, Mineral (32021)
UT Beaver (49001), Iron (49021), Juab (49023)*, Millard (49027), Tooele (49045)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
16 Hamlin-Snake Valleys (16020301)+, Pine Valley (16020302)+*, Tule Valley (16020303)+*, Skull Valley (16020305)+*, Southern Great Salt Lake Desert (16020306)+*, Northern Great Salt Lake Desert (16020308)+*, Escalante Desert (16030006)+, Beaver Bottoms-Upper Beaver (16030007)+*, Lower Beaver (16030008)+, Sevier Lake (16030009)+*, East Walker (16050301)+, Walker Lake (16050304)+, Dry Lake Valley (16060009)+*, Sand Spring-Tikaboo Valleys (16060014)+*
17 East Little Owyhee. Nevada, (17050106)+
18 Mono Lake (18090101)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Reproduction Comments: Possibly polyestrous (Hall 1946); majority of young are born in May and June. Litter size is 2-7 (average 3.9).
Ecology Comments: Predators include owls, foxes, badgers. In west-central Nevada mean yearly circular home range for males was 6613 sq m; for female, 3932 sq m (O'Farrell and Blaustein 1974).
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Desert, Playa/salt flat, Sand/dune, Shrubland/chaparral
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil
Habitat Comments: In loose sands and gravel. Found in Shadscale Scrub, Sagebrush Scrub, and Alkali Sink plant communities in the Upper Sonoran life zone. May occur in sand dunes near margins of range. Underground when inactive.
Adult Food Habits: Granivore
Immature Food Habits: Granivore
Food Comments: Seeds are the primary food source. Also eats some insects. Does not appear to utilize free water. Believed to store food in seed caches within burrow system (O'Farrell and Blaustein 1974).
Adult Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Hibernates/aestivates, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Activity observed March-October. Peak nocturnal activity occurs in first 2 hours after sunset. Moonlight and ambient temperature influence activity (O'Farrell and Blaustein 1974).
Length: 18 centimeters
Weight: 17 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Group Name: Kangaroo Rats and Allies

Use Class: Not applicable
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Mapping Guidance: Sites separated by 200 to 1000 meters should be mapped as separate polygons.
Separation Barriers: Major water barriers, arbitrarily set at greater than 50 meters; also major roads, greater than 30 meters clearance.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 1 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Home ranges generally are small or very small, and scant dispersal data suggest that dispersal usually may be less than a few hundred meters. For example, in southeastern Arizona, lifetime dispersal distance for Dipodomys merriami ranged from 0-265 m; nightly movements were up to about 150 m from home range center (Jones 1989). On the other hand, these rodents clearly are capabale of making long moves, and itt seems unlikely that observations separated by less than several kilometers of suitable habitat would represent distinct occurrences.

Home range varies from 0.06 to 3.09 hectares in Perognathus (O'Farrell et al. 1975, Iverson 1967, Jorgensen and Hayward 1965, O'Farrell 1978, Chew and Butterworth 1964, Maza et al. 1973); 0.39 to 4.4 hectares in Microdipodops (O'Farrell and Blaustein 1974, Ghiselin 1970); 0.04 to 5.2 hectares in DIPODOMYS (MacMillen 1964, Fitch 1948, Maza et al. 1973, Bleich 1977, O'Farrell 1978, Blair 1943, Bartholomew and Caswell 1951, Thomas 1975, Bradford 1976); and 0.1 to 2.4 hectares in Chaetodipus (Maza et al. 1973, Jorgensen and Hayward 1965, Reynolds and Haskell 1949, O'Farrell 1978, MacMillen 1964).

Major roads can be significant barriers to movement of small mammals (Oxley et al. 1974, Wilkins 1982, Garland and Bradley 1984).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .06 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Based on a home range of 0.33 hectares, the smaller end of the average scale for most heteromyids (see Separation Justification). Note that some species have smaller known home ranges: e.g. 0.04 to 0.16 hectares in DIPODOMYS STEPHENSI (Bleich 1977), and 0.12 to 0.24 hectares in CHAETODIPUS BAILEYI and 0.1 to 0.2 hectares in C. PENICILLATUS (Reynolds and Haskell 1949).
Date: 21Sep2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 20Apr1993
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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