There are 7 orders, 17 families, 40 genera, and 60 species represented among the Mammals of New England. If extirpated, coastal, introduced, and accidental species are included these numbers increase to 8 orders, 26 families, 67 genera, and 105 species. The region includes the U.S. states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
The makeup and distribution of the mammals in New England are largely the result of the Last Glacial Maximum when the Laurentide ice sheet covered virtually the entire region. Recolonization of the area appears to have occurred from one or a few southern glacial refugia. This is in contrast to the multiple glacial refugia present throughout the American West (Stone and Cook, 2000). As a consequence of both the recent uninhabitability and the few sources of recolonization, species diversity for some taxa in parts of New England are lower than in similar areas in other parts of North America. Chipmunks and ground squirrels are exemplars of this situation. New England has one species of each, but numerous locations west of the Rocky Mountains host several species (Hall, 1981).
Habitat varies throughout the region. Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, in the north of the region, have a humid continental short summer climate, with cooler summers and long, cold winters. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, in the south, have a humid continental long summer climate, with hot summers and cold winters. The average rainfall for most of the region is from 1,000 to 1,500 mm (40 to 60 in) a year, although the northern parts of Vermont and Maine see slightly less, from 500 to 1,000 mm (20 to 40 in). Snowfall can often exceed 2,500 mm (100 in) annually (New England Climate Initiative, 2006). Most mammals in this region exhibit specializations for dealing with the sometimes harsh winter conditions.
A comprehensive listing of all species found in the region follows.
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