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Citation. Zinnel, K. C.; Tester, J. R. 1992. Effects of plains pocket gophers on root biomass and soil nitrogen. Pages 43-46 in Smith, D. D. and C. A. Jacobs, Eds., Proceedings of the Twelfth North American Prairie Conference. University of Northern Iowa Press, Cedar Falls, IA. [1224 LTER]
Abstract. Total nitrogen and root biomass in 60 cm soil cores from plains pocket gopher den and food cache sites were compared to cores from control sites. Locations of den sites and food caches were determined from monitoring radio-tagged gophers. Control sites were located 5 m north of gopher sites and were assumed to have minimal gopher activity other than feeding. Gopher activities at den sites and food caches appeared to reduce total nitrogen in the top 10 cm of soil but increased total nitrogen from 11- 60 cm, especially at the level of primary tunnels (21-40 cm) and dens (51- 60 cm). The decrease in total nitrogen in the top 10 cm soil zone probably resulted from gophers moving soil from lower levels to the surface when building mounds. Increases in total nitrogen in zones below 11 cm could have resulted from urine, feces and decomposing plant parts left in food caches, tunnels and dens.