Complete Taxonomic Classification for Microtus californicus

Domain: Eukarya
                To be eukaryotic means that cells must contain a nucleus and other organelles enclosed in a membrane.

Kingdom: Animalia
                Animalia are characterized by being multicellular eukaryotes, with a mobile phase in at least one stage of their lifetime. Animalia are also all heterotrophic meaning they must consume other organisms and digest them in an internal cavity to acquire the energy the need to function.
Phylum: Chordata
                Chordata or Chordates all possess five essential characteristics that put them in this phylum. These include a notochord, dorsal nerve chord, pharyngeal slits, an endostyle, and a post-anal tail. These traits may only be present for a short period of time or the entire life of a chordate.

Class: Mammalia
                Characteristics shared by all mammals include having hair, three middle ear bones,  a neocortex in the brain, a four chambered heart, and mammary glands in the females. Most mammals have a body plan of four legs, though some have evolved a specialized body for aquatic living or flight.

Order: Rodentia
                Rodentia have one pair of incisors both on the upper and lower jaw. These teeth are constantly growing so members of this order gnaw to keep them short.
Family: Cricetidae
                These small mammals range anywhere from 5 cm to 62 cm and can weigh up to 1,100 grams. The length of tails, color of fur, and habitat all greatly vary in this family. They are all part of the much larger superfamily Muroidea.

Genus: Microtus
                Microtus refers to a group of voles characterized by small ears. They have very short legs and tails.

Species: Microtus californicus

The name Microtus californicus is Latin for vole of the northern hemisphere, specifically in California.

Figure 1. Phylogenetic tree of mammalian species as disscussed in The Ancestor's Tale. M. californicus would be included with the rats and mice. This tree shows that it is closely related to beavers, squirrels, guinea pigs, and rabbits. This tree was created by Fred Hsu in 2007.

Figure 2. This tree was created based on nuclear DNA phylogenies of Steppan et al. (2004), Jansa and Weksler (2004), and Michaux et al. (2001) as well as Robinson et al. (1997) and Michaux and Catzeflis (2000). This shows that the M. californicus, which belongs to the family Cricetidae, is part of a larger super family know as the Muroidea.

Next, read about the Habitat of the California Meadow Vole