Map_thumbnail_large_font

Geomys bursarius

Status_ne_offStatus_dd_offStatus_lc_onStatus_nt_offStatus_vu_offStatus_en_offStatus_cr_offStatus_ew_offStatus_ex_off

Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA MAMMALIA RODENTIA GEOMYIDAE

Scientific Name: Geomys bursarius
Species Authority: (Shaw, 1800)
Common Name(s):
English Plains Pocket Gopher
Synonym(s):
Geomys bursarius Merriam, 1890 subspecies lutescens
Geomys bursarius Davis, 1940 subspecies major
Geomys bursarius Elrod, Zimmerman, Sudman & Heidt, 2000 subspecies ozarkensis
Taxonomic Notes: The phylogenetic relationships of Geomys in general and of G. bursarius in particular are complex and uncertain (Zimmerman, in Wilson and Ruff 1999). Several taxa that formerly were considered to be subspecies of G. bursarius are now recognized as distinct species (G. attwateri, G. arenarius, G. breviceps, G. knoxjonesi, G. texensis).

Subspecies lutescens was regarded as a distinct species by Heaney and Timm (1983, 1985) and Jolley et al. (2000), but lutescens was regarded as a subspecies by Burns et al. (1985), Elrod et al. (2000), and Patton (in Wilson and Reeder 2005).

At a contact zone in eastern New Mexico, Baker et al. (1989) found that major and knoxjonesi are functioning as biological species with gene pools that are effectively isolated (restricted gene flow). Block and Zimmerman (1991) recognized knoxjonesi as a distinct species. After studying mitochondrial RNA, Jolley et al. (2000) determined that G. knoxjonesi and G. arenarius appeared to be different lineages within Geomys, but state that "further investigation of G. knoxjonesi and G. b. major are warranted." Baker et al. (2003), and Patton (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) regarded knoxjonesi as a distinct species, whereas major was recognized as a subspecies of G. bursarius (Patton, in Wilson and Reeder 2005).

Block and Zimmerman (1991) analyzed allozymic evidence and found that the taxa formerly known as G. b. texensis and G. b. llanensis are a single genetic entity (regarded as Geomys texensis) that is specifically distinct from Geomys bursarius.

Elrod et al. (2000) determined that isolated populations in the Ozark Mountains are genetically and morphologically divergent. They described those populations as a new subspecies (G. b. ozarkensis).

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 is very widespread, common in suitable habitat, adaptable, there are no major threats, and its populations are currently stable.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is known from the Great Plains of North America from southern Manitoba (Canada), eastern North Dakota, Minnesota, and western Wisconsin south to New Mexico and Texas in the United States. The eastern portion of the range extends to extreme western Indiana (Patton 2005).
Countries:
Native:
Canada (Manitoba); United States (Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: They are common and considered a pest in some locations. Population density averages four to five individuals per acre (Banfield 1974).
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The plains pocket gopher prefers open lands such as prairies, pastures, cultivated areas with deep, friable, moist soils; e.g., sandy or moist alluvial soils in Oklahoma. Also oak-hickory savanna, oak savanna mixed with maple-basswood forest, mesquite prairie, prairie-deciduous forest mosaic (Williams, in Wilson and Ruff 1999). They often occur in human-created habitats such as lawns, cemeteries, golf courses and along roadsides. The species is fossorial, denning underground in extensive tunnel systems. Most mounds and tunnels are constructed in the spring and fall. Mating takes place in spring. Gestation lasts about 30 days. Females give birth to one litter of an average four to five young each year, between March and May. The female evicts young from the burrow when they are ready to be weaned. They are sexually mature in 12 months.

The plains pocket gopher is active day and night; peak digging periods are at night and during crepuscular hours. Diet includes, fleshy roots, succulent stems, and small fruits are preferred. They are solitary animals, living within loose "colonies." Tunnels between neighbours are not interconnected. Home ranges are small. 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).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats to this species. Because this species is often considered a pest, it is frequently the target of poisoning and trapping methods to control populations.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is not of conservation concern, and its range includes some protected areas.

Citation: Linzey, A.V. & NatureServe (Hammerson, G.) 2008. Geomys bursarius. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 01 August 2014.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please fill in the feedback form so that we can correct or extend the information provided