The decline of aspen (Populus tremuloides) in the western United States is well known but the role that pocket gophers (Thomomys spp.) may play in that decline is not known. We investigated the effects of pocket gophers on aspen regeneration in Utah through a series of 4 treatments comprised of baited and fenced plots. The treatments were control (no treatment), baited (pocket gopher removal), fenced (ungulate exclusion), and fenced and baited combined. Fencing reduced browsing rates and increased the height and growth of aspen suckers but did not affect their density. Pocket gopher removal had no effect. Aspen suckers on control plots were the only ones that showed no increase in growth between spring and fall. Overall, these results indicate that the effect of pocket gophers on aspen regeneration is minimal compared to the effects of browsing by ungulates and livestock.
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Vol. 69 • No. 2