In a prairie ecosystem, plains pocket gophers are a major cause of plant community disturbance. Based on the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis, we predicted that plant species diversity would be greater in the areas of pocket gopher mound disturbance. We also hypothesized that gopher mounds would result in a higher concentration of colonizing invasive species. We tested 1 m2 plots at Frenchmen’s Bluff, Minnesota: half containing gopher mounds and half without gopher mounds. The plots containing gopher mounds had significantly greater species richness and higher abundance of invasive species. However, the difference in diversity (quantified with the Shannon Weaver Index) between the two plots was marginally significant. These results are consistent with the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis, wherein the disturbance of the gopher mound provided a greater opportunity for a larger variety of species.
Koerner, Anna; Bollig, Blair; Lockhart, Mackenzie; Faeh, Courtney.
The Effect of the Plains Pocket Gopher (Geomys bursarius) on Plant Species Diversity at Frenchman’s Bluff, Minnesota.
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