Great Basin Naturalist


This study examined (1) the relative abundance of the pocket gopher (Thomomys talpoides) in four successive stages (1–10, 11–39, 40–79, and 80+ years following disturbance) of spruce-fir forest; (2) the relationship between number of gopher sign (mounds and earth plugs) with gopher density; and (3) a method of sampling pocket gopher populations using a 500 by 4 m strip transect. The number of gopher mounds was significantly correlated with the number of earth plugs. Data were pooled and a categorical log linear analysis used to test for significant differences in pocket gopher sign between the four successive stages. The 1–10 and the 80+ -year-old sites had significantly more gopher sign than the 11–39 and the 40–79 year-old sites. No significant differences were found between the 11–39 and the 40–79-year-old sites, or between the 1–10 and the 80+ -year-old sites. The difference in population densities may be due to understory vegetation differences between the successional stages. There was a significant correlation between amount of gopher sign and gophers caught in each of the study sites. This indicates that counts of pocket gopher sign may be used to estimate pocket gopher density. The strip transect is recommended as the most appropriate method when sampling heterogeneous habitats or when there is cause to suspect gopher populations may be aggregated within the area rather than spaced randomly or regularly.