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1 October 2017 Understory Vegetation Structure and Soil Characteristics of Geomys pinetis (Southeastern Pocket Gopher) Habitat in Southwestern Georgia
Ashley E. Warren, Steven B. Castleberry, Daniel Markewitz, L. Mike Conner
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Abstract

Geomys pinetis (Southeastern pocket gopher) is a fossorial rodent historically associated with Pinus palustris (longleaf pine) communities. Conversion and fragmentation of longleaf pine communities have reduced quality and quantity of southeastern pocket gopher habitat. It is therefore important to determine characteristics of suitable habitat for future conservation efforts focusing on maintaining or restoring appropriate habitat conditions. We quantified understory vegetation structure (i.e., ground cover categories) and soil characteristics (i.e., soil texture, pH, nitrogen, and carbon at multiple depths) in areas with and without pocket gopher activity. We evaluated a suite of models to determine whether understory vegetation structure, soil characteristics, or a combination of vegetation and soil characteristics were better predictors of gopher presence. Soil characteristics predicted pocket gopher presence better than understory vegetation structure with the best overall model combining percent clay, percent silt, pH, nitrogen, and carbon. Percent clay, percent silt, pH, and nitrogen were the most informative predictors. We suggest vegetation variables were of lesser importance because suitable understory vegetation was common across our study site. Our data suggest presence of suitable understory vegetation structure may be insufficient for southeastern pocket gopher restoration if soil characteristics are unsuitable.

Ashley E. Warren, Steven B. Castleberry, Daniel Markewitz, and L. Mike Conner "Understory Vegetation Structure and Soil Characteristics of Geomys pinetis (Southeastern Pocket Gopher) Habitat in Southwestern Georgia," The American Midland Naturalist 178(2), 215-225, (1 October 2017). https://doi.org/10.1674/0003-0031-178.2.215
Received: 23 March 2017; Accepted: 1 June 2017; Published: 1 October 2017
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