Checklist of the mammals of Alaska
This checklist includes all 116 mammal species known to presently occur in Alaska. Most are native (N) to the state—meaning they occur here naturally—and a small number are endemic (E), meaning they’re not only native to Alaska but are found nowhere else. It does not include extinct taxa (e.g., Woolly Mammoth). It does include those introduced (I) from outside Alaska (by humans) that are known or presumed to be self sustaining (e.g., European Rabbit). Also included are historically native (HN) species that have been reintroduced (R) to the state following extirpation (local extinction) from Alaska in the past 500 years (e.g., Muskox).
Like most museums, we generally follow the taxonomy in Wilson and Reeder’s (2003) Mammal Species of the World (MSW), which is available in both print and online versions. However, taxonomy is a dynamic enterprise, and the nomenclature of many Alaskan mammals has changed in the past decade. An excellent and more up-to-date authority is MacDonald and Cook’s (2009) Recent Mammals of Alaska. More recent taxonomic revisions, as well as names that are frequently confused with those no longer formally recognized but common in the historical literature, are indicated with an asterisk (*) and explained in the 'Taxonomy notes' section at the bottom of this page.
Common names are not held to the same standards as scientific names and can vary between and even within regions. Moreover, the same common name can sometimes apply to two or more different species. For the most part we follow Wilson and Reeder (2003) and MacDonald and Cook (2009) for common names but have included additional colloquialisms used in rural Alaska, such as "jackrabbit" for Lepus othus (the Alaska Hare). We also follow Wilson and Reeder (2003) in the capitalization of all words in common names to avoid ambiguity (e.g., so that readers are clear that "Alaska Marmot" refers to Marmota broweri and not to either of the other two marmot species found in Alaska). The single best way to avoid confusion is to use scientific names.
Be aware that many of the external links on this page do not follow the most recent taxonomy. For example, until 2014, water shrews in Alaska were classified as Sorex palustris, the broadly ranging American Water Shrew. Genetic evidence does not support this, and water shrews in northwestern North America formerly classified as S. palustris have since been elevated to their own species, the Western Water Shrew (S. navigator). This means that many sources of information on S. palustris may apply in part or in whole to S. navigator depending on the date of publication and/or geographic scope. Other species for which this is likely to be the case include Sorex minutissimus (in Alaska) and Martes caurina.
Links to the following external resources are provided.
Conservation and trade
International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) accounts include threat assessments and range maps. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) threatened (T) and engangered (E) listings (some species can be classified as both in different parts of their range) are also identified. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) may assign species to one or more of three appendices (I, II, III) that correspond to different restrictions regulating the trade, import, and export of wildlife.
Species and taxon accounts
In addition to individual MSW accounts, links are also provided to species or taxon accounts that contain information on ecology, life history, behavior, and evolution. These include the Animal Diversity Web (ADW), a resource largely developed for and by college students (those marked with a dagger [†] were authored by Mammalogy students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks); the Encyclopedia of Life (EoL); The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s (ADFG) Wildlife Notebook Series; and Mammalian Species (Mamm. Sp.) accounts published by the American Society of Mammalogists (most are available for free download).
Museum holdings and observations
Clicking on “UAM” or “VertNet” will automatically search the UAM Mammal Collection or VertNet for all holdings of a particular species. iNaturalist (iNat) accounts include annotated observations submitted, vetted, and curated by professional and citizen scientists alike.
Please direct any comments, questions, or corrections to leolson[at]alaska.edu. To request a specimen loan, please visit our Policies & Loans page.