Definitions

kaibab-squirrel

Kaibab Squirrel

[kahy-bab]

The Kaibab Squirrel (Sciurus aberti kaibabensis) is a tassel-eared squirrel that lives in the Kaibab Plateau in the Southwest United States, in an area of 20 by 40 miles (30 by 60 km). The squirrel's habitat is confined entirely to the ponderosa pine forests of the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park and the northern section of Kaibab National Forest around the town of Jacob Lake, Arizona. In 1965, 200,000 acres (800 km²) of Kaibab squirrel habitat within Grand Canyon National Park and Kaibab National Forest were declared the Kaibab Squirrel National Natural Landmark. It is not found anywhere else in the world.

It has a black belly, white tail, and tufted ears. The tufts on the ears grow longer with age and may extend 1 to 2 inches (25 to 50 mm) above the ears in the winter, but may not be visible in the summer.

The Kaibab squirrel lives in the ponderosa pine forests, where it builds its nest out of twigs and pine needles. It eats acorns, fruit, and fungi, as well as the seeds, bark, and twigs of the trees where it makes its home. The Kaibab squirrel's most significant source of food is the seeds found within ponderosa pine cones. Young squirrels are born between April and August.

Kaibab squirrels, ponderosa pines, and the fungi which grow in the vicinity of the ponderosas exist in a symbiotic relationship.

The Kaibab squirrel is an example of evolution occurring through geographic isolation. The Kaibab squirrel is related to the Abert's squirrel (Sciurus aberti) which is found on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. As the Canyon formed through erosion and separated the ponderosa pine forests on each rim from each other, the by-then isolated squirrels of the North Rim evolved into what is now a distinct subspecies.

In the past, the Kaibab squirrel was thought to be a distinct species (Sciurus kaibabensis), but today is considered a subspecies of the Abert's squirrel.

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