Distribution Survey of Meadow Jumping Mice (Zapus hudsonius) Subspecies in Eastern Wyoming, Western South Dakota, and Southeastern Montana

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Results of a 2004 taxonomic study on subspecies of the meadow jumping mouse suggested that Preble's meadow jumping mouse was not a valid subspecies. That study indicated that the subspecies currently named Z. h. preblei, known to occur only in Colorado and southern Wyoming and listed as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, was actually a subpopulation of Z. h. campestris, which occurs in the Black Hills region of northeastern Wyoming, western South Dakota, and southeastern Montana. At the request of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), FORT scientists conducted field work to document the distribution and occurrence of subspecies of the meadow jumping mouse on the northern Great Plains, with a primary focus on collecting samples for a comprehensive genetic analysis carried out by the USGS Leetown Science Center (LSC). This work was completed during early 2006 and, contrary to the 2004 study, indicated that Z. h. preblei was indeed a valid subspecies. This information was instrumental in providing necessary information to the FWS during their five-year review of the Preble’s jumping mouse to evaluate its status as a threatened subspecies. An independent review panel that subsequently provided a critical review of all available information on the taxonomic status of the subspecies, including the USGS study, deemed that “the case has not been made for taxonomic change, while available evidence supports validity of [Z. h. preblei] as a subspecies under most definitions.”