Burrowing mammals can have a pronounced effect on vegetation growth and species
diversity. Based on the intermediate-disturbance hypothesis, we estimate that the intermittent disturbances caused by burrowing pocket gophers (Geomys bursarius) encourages species diversity in prairie ecosystems. Mounds that result from burrowing displace vegetation and
allow competition for establishment. Competition between colonizer species and competitive species reaches a coexistence maximum as vegetation compensates for this disturbance. We found that these spatially separated disturbances encouraged a higher species diversity compared to undisturbed areas.
Knoeck, Matthew; Oetting, Jerimiah; Plafcan, Wade; Shafer, Nels.
Effects of Gopher Disturbance on Plant Diversity in Prairie Ecosystems.
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