Thomomys talpoides Thomomys idahoensis Thomomys clusius Thomomys mazama Thomomys monticola Thomomys bulbivorus Thomomys bottae Thomomys townsendii Thomomys umbrinus
The smooth-toothed pocket gophers, genus Thomomys, are so called because they are among the only pocket gophers without grooves on their incisors. They are also called the western pocket gophers because they are distributed in western North America. They are considered distinct enough from other pocket gophers to be recognized as a separate subfamily or tribe.
1 Natural history 2 Species 3 General characteristics 4 Habitat 5 Diet 6 Behavior and environmental effects
6.1 Tunneling and mounds 6.2 Effects on agriculture and development
6.2.1 Control and eradication
7 References 8 External links
Natural history Thomomys gophers are highly fossorial. They rely on their incisors for digging more than most other gophers. They feed on plants, largely from beneath the surface, but they do come above ground at night. Roots, stems, leaves, and bulbs are eaten. When not directly in an agricultural field they are a benefit to humans by enriching soil and preventing runoff. Species
This article needs attention from an expert in Rodent. Please add a
reason or a talk parameter to this template to explain the issue with
the article. WikiProject
Over one hundred subspecies have been described, but not all are currently recognized by modern authorities[according to whom?]. Like many fossorial rodents, Thomomys shows a great deal of allopatric variation.
Thomomys, commonly referred to as smooth-toothed pocket gophers, is a
group of rodents belonging to the family Geomyidae. Members of
Thomomys are unique among gophers in that they have smooth upper
incisors, free of the grooves that are common in other species. All
species share the trait of fur-lined, external cheek pockets that
allow them to move food material to and from their underground
dwellings. Size varies among species, but commonly ranges from the
size of a smaller mole to a larger rat. Coloration can range from
yellow, to grey, to brown, and even black. They are all full-bodied
with squat legs, short hair, and small eyes and ears.
Pocket gophers have special visual adaptations to match their extreme
and unique subterranean lifestyle. Though the size of their eyes are
typical for rodents, the lens is able to transmit light rays that fall
into the ultraviolet range. They possess three different
photopigments: two cone pigments specific to 367 nm and
505 nm, and a rod pigment at 495 nm. Overall, the pocket
gophers have less rod density than nocturnal rodents.
Members of Thomomys inhabit southwestern Canada, the western United
States, and a large percentage of Mexico. They thrive in fertile land
often used for agriculture, but can be found in many different
localities. They prefer areas with high primary productivity and
nitrogen soil concentrations.
They are fossorial herbivores that consume an extensive amount of food
for their body size. This could be due to the fact that they expend
copious amounts of energy excavating and maintaining their elaborate
tunnel systems. It is estimated that their subterranean lifestyle
requires them to use 360-3400 times the amount of energy required for
above ground living. They selectively consume underground parts of
perennial and annual grasses, forbs, and woody plants. They are also
known to forage above ground, usually close to their burrow entrances.
They are choosy and prefer certain species and parts of plants,
perhaps due to their high daily energy expenditure.
Behavior and environmental effects
Tunneling and mounds
Thomomys pocket gophers live underground and create extensive systems
of tunnels through which they traverse. They move earth from below
ground, and deposit it above ground in piles known as mounds. In snowy
regions, they create tunnels through the snow known as earthcores.
Earthcores and mounds together can cover up to 30% of the surface in
highly excavated areas. The most prominent ecological effect would be
that of their tunneling and mounds. The mounds are thought to increase
ecological diversity of plants by providing a space for fugitive
species that would otherwise have been eliminated due to competition
over time. The flora of mounds differs noticeably from the surrounding
areas, often with increased numbers of forbs and annuals. The actual
mound soil differs in composition from that of the surrounding area as
well, creating a different texture and water-holding potential. The
ecological impact of this is still relatively unexplored.
Effects on agriculture and development
These gophers are able to alter the mineral availability, organic
molecule concentration, texture, and moisture content of soil. This
can be either a benefit or a nuisance depending on the soil condition
and usage. In arid or semi-arid environments, these changes enhance
vegetation growth and soil quality. They are thought to be able to
help generate and regenerate prairie lands that have degraded.
However, they are commonly known as pests in areas of agriculture and
development. They have and can cause a heavy loss to farmers by
consuming the roots or underground crops themselves. Farmers try to
control and limit their population in crop areas using a variety of
means. In the wild however, their presence is encouraged and
Control and eradication
Many different methods have been used to try to eliminate
overpopulation of pocket gophers. These include chemicals, propane
blasting, and trapping. A park in
Penn Valley, CA
^ Kays, Roland W.; Wilson, Don E. (2002). Mammals of North America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 71. ISBN 0691070121. ^ a b Bayley V. 1915. Revision of the Pocket Gophers of the Genus Thomomys. North American Fauna, 39. United States Bureau of Biological Survey ^ Williams, Gary A.; Calderone, Jack B.; Jacobs, Gerald H. (2004). "Photoreceptors and photopigments in a subterranean rodent, the pocket gopher (Thomomys bottae)". Journal of Comparative Physiology A. 191 (2): 125–134. doi:10.1007/s00359-004-0578-4. ^ a b c Huntly, N., & Inouye, R. (1988). Pocket gophers in ecosystems: Patterns and mechanisms. Bioscience, 38(11), 786-793. ^ Mielke, Howard W. (1977). "Mound Building by Pocket Gophers (Geomyidae): Their Impact on Soils and Vegetation in North America". Journal of Biogeography. 4 (2): 171. doi:10.2307/3038161. ^ Gophers Beware. By: McKnight, Marianne Wilson, E: The Environmental Magazine, 10468021, Jul/Aug2010, Vol. 21, Issue 4 ^ a b c http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7433.html
Nowak, R. M. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, Vol. 2. Johns Hopkins University Press, London.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Thomomys (Smooth-Toothed Pocket Gophers).
v t e
Extant species of family Geomyidae (Pocket gophers)
Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Order: Rodentia Suborder: Castorimorpha Superfamily: Geomyoidea
Yellow-faced pocket gopher
Geomys (Eastern pocket gophers)
Desert pocket gopher
Chiriqui pocket gopher
Cherrie's pocket gopher
Thomomys (Smooth-toothed pocket gophers)
Botta's pocket gopher
Wyoming pocket gopher
Michoacan pocket gopher
Wd: Q1094704 ADW: Thomomys EoL: 42281 EPPO: 1THMSG Fossilworks: 41671 GBIF: 2439381 ITIS: 180221 MSW: 12