lemming


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lemming,

name for several species of mouselike rodentsrodent,
member of the mammalian order Rodentia, characterized by front teeth adapted for gnawing and cheek teeth adapted for chewing. The Rodentia is by far the largest mammalian order; nearly half of all mammal species are rodents.
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 related to the volesvole,
name for a large number of mouselike rodents, related to the lemmings. Most range in length from 3 1-2 to 7 in. (9–18 cm) and have rounded bodies with gray or brown coats, blunt muzzles, small ears concealed in the long fur, and short tails.
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. All live in arctic or northern regions, inhabiting tundra or open meadows. They frequently nest in underground burrows, particularly in winter, although they do not hibernate. They feed on grasses, mosses, and roots, and probably on insects. All are about 5 in. (13 cm) long, with stout bodies, thick fluffy fur, small ears, very short tails, and long claws. The brown to black Norway lemming, Lemmus lemmus, of Scandinavia, is the best known, because of its spectacular periodic swarming. Two or three times per decade, this species undergoes a population explosion of such proportions that the lemmings set out in all directions in search of food. They cross bodies of water by swimming and occasionally some reach and enter the ocean, where they drown. This behavior has given rise to folklore about lemmings committing mass suicide, but the population crashes mainly because lemming predators increase in number in response. Other species of the genus Lemmus are found in the northern portions of Eurasia and North America and sometimes exhibit similar swarmings. The snow, or collard, lemmings, Dicrostonyx, found in the arctic regions of Asia and North America, are pure white in winter and brown, gray, or reddish in summer; this color change is unique among rodents. They are also distinguished by the growth in winter of an extremely long two-pronged claw on the third and fourth finger of each forefoot; these claws may function in shoveling snow. Bog lemmings, members of the genus Synaptus, are found in marshy places in North America as far south as the N United States. The wood lemming, Myopus schisticolor, is found in N Eurasia. The steppe lemmings, members of the genus Lagarus, of S Russia and Mongolia, are properly classified as voles; the North American species of this genus, Lagarus curtatus, is found in the W United States and is known as the sagebrush vole. Lemmings are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Rodentia, family Cricetidae. See mousemouse,
name applied to numerous species of small rodents, often having soft gray or brown fur, long hairless tails, and large ears. The chief distinction between these animals and the variety of rodents called rats is in size: mice are usually smaller.
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Lemming

 

any one rodent of the tribe Lemmini of the subfamily Microtinae. The body measures approximately 15 cm long, and the tail approximately 2 cm long. The coloration is a uniform gray-brown or mixed. In the winter, the fur of some lemmings turns very light or white and the claws of the forelimbs grow longer. There are four genera, comprising 20 species. The genera are Myopus (wood lemmings), Synaptomys (bog lemmings), Lemmus (true lemmings), and Diacrostonyx (collared, or hoofed, lemmings).

Lemmings inhabit the forests, mountain tundras, and plains of Eurasia and North America. There are three (or four) species in the USSR. They are distributed from the Kola Peninsula and Central Russia to the Chukchi Peninsula and the Far East. The most common species are the arctic lemming (D. torquatus); the Ob’, or Siberian, lemming (L. obensis, or L. sibiricus); and the Norway lemming (L. lemmus). The animals are active year-round. In the tundra in some years they reproduce in vast numbers, achieving a high abundance, and undertake distant migrations during which they even cross rivers. Lemmings feed on sedges, subshrubs, and mosses. They are the principal food of the arctic fox. Lemmings transmit the causative agents of several viral diseases.

REFERENCES

Mlekopitaiushchie fauny SSSR, part 1. Moscow, 1963.
Marsden, W. The Lemming Year. London, 1964.

lemming

[′lem·iŋ]
(vertebrate zoology)
The common name for the small burrowing rodents composing the subfamily Microtinae.

lemming

any of various volelike rodents of the genus Lemmus and related genera, of northern and arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America: family Cricetidae. The Scandinavian variety, Lemmus lemmus, migrates periodically when its population reaches a peak
References in periodicals archive ?
Two days after baiting, the apple had disappeared from four boxes, but only one juvenile male collared lemming (28.
Herein, we evaluated the population dynamics and ecology of southern bog lemmings and woodland voles as the dominant rodents in the absence of the larger and usually dominant oldfield meadow voles, cotton rats, and rice rats in our region.
Our results underscore the fragility of the dynamic interactions between the lemmings and their predators, because the life-time reproductive success of the predators is much dependent on the years of high lemming density.
Lemming and Battle seem fully prepared to enact the loneliness of the African-American athiete in their one heated exchange, but by then it is too late.
There, I watched an adult male fox venture forth from his den in late afternoon and return almost hourly with mouthfuls of lemmings and other prey.
So it was no surprise to find that the year of the lemming has not just destabilised Afghanistan, which was anyway pretty unstable, but sent tremors into distinctly shaky regions like Palestine and the Kashmir.
During years when the lemming supply is low, snowy owls may refrain from nesting, but when lemmings are available in abundance, a big female may lay 8 or 9 eggs.
In particular, we investigate the following predictions of the generalist predator hypothesis: (1) predators do not show strong numerical responses to variations in lemming density; (2) the proportion of lemming biomass in predator diets declines with decreasing lemming abundance, and is compensated for by increased consumption of alternative prey; (3) predators show weak functional responses at low lemming densities and stronger functional responses at higher lemming densities (type-III response); and (4) at very low lemming densities, predators consume virtually no lemmings due to low capture efficiency.
Little propose rather more fantastic changes: from ostrich to owl, from donkey to dolphin, from snail to gazelle, and last, but certainly not least, from lemming to leopard.
A new species of Eimeria (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae) was found in the feces and intestinal contents of the southern bog lemming, Synaptomys cooperi Baird, 1858, from St.
May I define the well-known characteristics of a lemming.
Despite the fact that they are hypothesized to play an important role in generating the lemming cycles, a key process for the functioning of the terrestrial tundra ecosystem, very little is known about the biology of these miniature carnivores in the Arctic.