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Geomys breviceps

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA RODENTIA GEOMYIDAE

Scientific Name: Geomys breviceps
Species Authority: Baird, 1855
Common Name(s):
English Baird's Pocket Gopher
Synonym(s):
Geomys breviceps Merriam, 1895 subspecies sagittalis
Geomys bursarius Baird, 1855 subspecies breviceps
Taxonomic Notes: Two subspecies are recognized, breviceps and sagittalis; several other nominal subspecies are now no longer regarded as valid (see Patton, in Wilson and Reeder 2005).

Geomys breviceps formerly included in G. bursarius, but electrophoretic and chromosomal data indicate limited gene flow between breviceps and G. bursarius (Cothran and Zimmerman 1985, Bohlin and Zimmerman 1982). Geomys breviceps was recognized as a distinct species by Baker et al. (2003) and Patton (in Wilson and Reeder 2005). A study of mitochondrial RNA by Jolley et al. (2000) found that the placement of G. breviceps within Geomys to be problematic.

Geomys attwateri, G. breviceps, and G. bursarius cannot be distinguished using external morphological characteristics, but they differ in cytological and biochemical characteristics. Karyotypic hybrids between G. breviceps and G. attwateri, and G. bursarius have been found.

Burt and Dowler (1999) examined allozyme variation and found evidence of a narrow zone of hybridization between G. breviceps and G. attwateri, but gene flow appeared to be very restricted.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Linzey, A.V. & NatureServe (Hammerson, G.)
Reviewer(s): Amori, G. (Small Nonvolant Mammal Red List Authority) & Chanson, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Justification:
Listed as Least Concern because it has a relatively large range, it is common, there are no major threats, and its population is not in decline.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is found from the eastern bank of the Brazos River in central and southeastern Texas eastward into western Louisiana, and north into southwestern Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, just east of Norman. The subspecies breviceps occurs in the vicinity of Mer Rouge, Morehouse Parish, Louisiana, and the subspecies sagittalis occurs across the remainder of range (Sulentich et al. 1991).
Countries:
Native:
United States
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It is common within its range, the population density in fine-sandy loam soil near College Station, Texas, was estimated at 0.55 per hectare (see Sulentich et al. 1991).
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is found in fine sandy loam soils where topsoil depth is greater than 10 cm. It is also found in clay loam soils. Habitat is mainly prairie and grasslands with oaks and Ilex. Burrows rarely extend into clay subsoils. It is strictly fossorial, rarely leaving its burrows. The burrow system may include up to 80 m of tunnels, including foraging tunnels and deeper chambers for food storage and nesting. Nests may also be found in mounds that extend 30-61 cm above general ground level, especially in areas prone to seasonal flooding.

This species is an opportunistic herbivore, eating roots, stems and leaves of most plant species encountered in foraging. Caches food underground. Reproduction occurs from February through August, with peaks in June-July and April, the average litter size is about 2.6, with one or two litters per year. Females are sexually mature at about three months (Wood 1949). Pocket gophers are ecologically important as prey items and in influencing soils, microtopography, habitat heterogeneity, diversity of plant species, and primary productivity (Huntly and Inouye 1988). They are primarily nocturnal.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats to this species. It is often viewed as a pest species. Gophers eat crops, their burrows lessen soil stability and the mounds of soil created at the openings of burrows destroy underlying vegetation. Because of this they are often targets of trapping and rodenticide.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is considered secure and is not of conservation concern. Its range includes some protected areas.

Citation: Linzey, A.V. & NatureServe (Hammerson, G.) 2008. Geomys breviceps. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 26 October 2014.
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