The plains pocket gopher (Geomys bursarius) is a member of the order Rodentia and family Geomyidae. The effects of these subterranean herbivores on vegetation can arise from diet selection, foraging behavior, and burrow structure and dynamics. In the absence of pocket gophers there is higher soil fertility which lead to higher plant biomass, in turn reduces light availability at the surface. Our study was designed to examine the effect of gopher mounds on plant diversity. Of 256 unique patches of vegetation sampled we found that 195 (76%) were associated with a gopher mound and 61 (24%) were not associated with a mound. Of the total patches surveyed 28 (11%) were associated with new mounds, 81 (32%) with abandoned mounds, and 86 (33%) with old mounds. While the mounds may be detrimental to plant diversity while they are active, once they are abandoned by the gophers they become beneficial.
Curry, Jessica; Avendano, Javier; Peterson, Julie.
Effects of Plains Pocket Gopher (Geomys bursarius) Mound Building on Plant Diversity.
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