Date of this Version
A study was conducted at three locations in the Nebraska Sand Hills to determine if selected soil factors attracted or limited the local distribution of plains pocket gophers (Geomys bursarius). The study was also designed to determine the extent of range recovery for the first 3 yr following control of plains pocket gophers. Soil samples were collected from gopher-disturbed and undisturbed areas. Analyses showed that differences in organic matter content, pH, nitrate-nitrogen, phosphorus, and particle size were not great enough to influence distribution of pocket gophers within the research areas. Changes in vegetation were analyzed for 3 yr following elimination of pocket gophers from disturbed areas. Comparison of areas disturbed by pocket gophers with undisturbed areas showed that gopher-disturbed areas had a greater percentage of bare soil with less litter and vegetation. Following control of pocket gophers, vegetation in the disturbed areas rapidly increased with corresponding decreases in the amount of bare ground. Species of perennial grasses began to replace annual species. Secondary plant succession was rapid when there was no grazing, but it was delayed. by moderate to heavy grazing during the periods of active plant growth.