Using an Ecosystem Engineer to Restore Functionality of Natural Pinelands in the Southeastern United States
The southeastern pocket gopher is a native rodent to the southeastern United States and is restricted to the coastal plains of Alabama, Georgia and Florida and appears to be declining across its range. It has been listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in all three states and is threatened in GA. We know little about the ecology, natural history, distribution, and population dynamics of the southeastern pocket gopher. Therefore, our research aims to address data gaps in the knowledge of southeastern pocket gophers with the ultimate goal of providing specific management recommendations for restoring and maintaining highly functional habitat conditions, maintaining connectivity among populations, and reintroducing southeastern pocket gophers into appropriate habitat.
Southeastern pocket gophers (Geomys pinetis) are vital to the proper functioning of Natural Pinelands (only three percent of which remains intact today) in the southeastern United States. Pocket gophers are integral to the Natural Pinelands as they are ecosystem engineers that promote diversity in the ecosystem by aerating and recycling nutrients in the soil and increasing plant diversity through their burrowing and foraging activities. Pocket gophers also provide shelter for other species that live in their extensive tunnel systems. To read more about this interesting species, check out the recent Species Spotlight on the pocket gopher from The Wildlife Society, Florida Chapter.
We are currently working on surveying for southeastern pocket gopher presence across their native range so we have added an iNaturalist project and a project website where anyone can help us identify southeastern pocket gopher presence! Local identifications will be part of our large-scale surveying efforts across AL, GA, and FL. You can visit the project site here or our iNaturalist page here!
For more information on our pocket gopher research contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our research website