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Pocket gophers (Geomys bursarius), vegetation, and soil nitrogen along a successional sere in east central Minnesota

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Pocket gophers (Geomys bursarius: Geomyidae Rodentia) are shown to affect soil resources and thus, indirectly, vegetation. Gophers reduce average soil nitrogen near the surface and increase point-to-point heterogeneity of soil nitrogen by moving nitrogen-poor subsurface soil to the soil surface. Data from 22 old fields at Cedar Creek Natural History Area, Minnesota, USA show correlations of soil nitrogen, vegetation, and gopher mounds that are consistent with this indirect mechanism by which gophers affect local species composition and old field succession.

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Correspondence to R. S. Inouye.

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Inouye, R.S., Huntly, N.J., Tilman, D. et al. Pocket gophers (Geomys bursarius), vegetation, and soil nitrogen along a successional sere in east central Minnesota. Oecologia 72, 178–184 (1987).

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Key words

  • Geomys
  • Soil nitrogen
  • Gopher mounds
  • Succession