Spatial Relationships among the Plains Pocket Gopher (Geomys bursariw,) and Lead Plant (Amorpha canescem) and Purple Prairie Clover (Petalostemum purpureum) and the Effects of Prairie Fragmentation Upon These Organisms
Boss, Daniel J.
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Recent studies of tall grass prairie remnants show 8-60% of original plant species have been lost over the past 52 years. It is widely held that this loss may be due to fragmentation of remaining prairie and subsequent fire suppression. Fragmentation may also cause a decline in certain keystone species as well, such as the plains pocket gopher (Geomys bursarius). The effects of pocket gopher behavior, such as herbviory and fossoriallifestyle, are felt throughout trophic levels and its loss may be detrimental to a system. Transect surveys of Iowa tall grass prairie remnants were used to examine the relative distribution of pocket gophers, lead plant (Amorpha canescens), and purple prairie clover (Petalostemum purpureum) in relation to the size of a prairie remnant. The results show a significant relationship suggesting a higher likelihood of gopher presence in larger remnants. This study also examined spatial relationships between gopher mounds and both lead plant and purple prairie clover. Small scale spatial relationships between mounds and each plant were examined using cross-correlational analysis along the transects. The results suggest that gopher mounds and purple prairie clover are positively correlated in co-occurrence within a given prairie remnant and along a given transect clustered together at increments of 20- 30 meters.
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