Animal life inhabiting the Niwot Ridge area ranges from a variety of arthropods to birds and mammals. The only year-round avian resident in the Colorado alpine zone is the white-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucura), but common summer residents include the American pipit (Anthus rubescens), rosy finch (Leucosticte spp.), horned lark (Eremophila alpestris), and white-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys).
Of the 31 species of mammals observed in alpine tundra on Niwot Ridge, approximately 20 are herbivores, and of these 12 are small herbivores, ranging in size from mice and voles to marmots. The small mammal herbivore community at Niwot Ridge includes the deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), western jumping mouse (Zapus princeps), bushy-tailed woodrat (Neotoma cinerea), voles (Microtus longicaudus, M. montanus, Phenacomys intermedius, and Clethrionomys gapperi), least chipmunk (Tamius minimus), golden-mantled ground squirrel (Spermophilus lateralis), northern pocket gopher (Thomomys talpoides), pika (Ochotona princeps), and yellow-bellied marmot (Marmota flaviventris).
The snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) and porcupine (Erithizon dorsatum) are transient species in alpine tundra. The large herbivorous mammals found at Niwot Ridge include elk (Cervus canadensis), moose (Alces alces), and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus). Non-herbivore mammals at Niwot Ridge include the masked, dwarf, and montane shrews (Sorex cinereus, S. nanus, S. monticolus), which are insectivores. Omnivorous and carnivorous species are the American marten (Martes americana), short- and long-tailed weasels (Mustela erminea, M. frenata), American badger (Taxidea taxus), coyote (Canis latrans), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), mountain lion (Felis concolor), bobcat (Felis rufus), and black bear (Ursus americanus).
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement #DEB-1637686. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necesarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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