By any other name, it's a groundhog, marmot, woodchuck...
This seven-minute short was made for Sony Home Entertainment's 15th anniversary edition DVD release of the 1993 film, "Groundhog Day." It was filmed on location at the silver mining ghost town of Gothic, Colorado, near Crested Butte. The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory has been located there since its founding in 1928.
Two scientists interviewed in this documentary work at the lab. Dr. Daniel Blumstein is an associate professor of biology at UCLA. Ken Armitage is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas. He began the start of research on Marmots in 1962.
This short gives some basic information about marmots, and it has some nice scenic shots in the Rockies. It shows researchers catching marmots, measuring them and collecting their scat. Marmot is the general name for several species of groundhogs. They also are called woodchucks and ground squirrels. Armitage says that naturalists prefer the term, "woodchuck," because it is an anglicized version of the Algonquian Indian name for the groundhogs, "wooshuck."
The ground squirrels range mostly in the Eastern U.S. and the yellow-bellied marmot is spread throughout the West. Groundhogs are burrowing rodents that are found mostly in rocky soil. The rocks help protect them and their burrows. Pairs do not stay together after mating and the males don't help with the raising of the young. Young males leave the nest and strike out on their own at about one year. Female offspring will often stay with their mother in their home den. If able to survive the first two years, females may live 15 years and males 11 years. Their natural prey include coyotes, foxes, badgers, birds of prey and other predators.
Aside from this general information about marmots, the documentary tells little about any discoveries from the more than 45 years of research done before the making of this documentary in 2008.
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