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Citation. Zinnel, K. C.; Tester, J. R. 1994. Plains pocket gophers social behavior. Pages 95-101 in R. G. Wickett, P. D. Lewis, A. Woodliffe and P. Pratt, eds., Proceedings of the Thirteenth North American Prairie Conference: Spirit of the Land, Our Prairie Legacy. Held 6-9 August 1992, Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Department of Parks and Recreation, Windsor, Ontario, Canada. [1716 CC]
Abstract. Social interactions of plains pocket gophers (Geomys bursarius) were studied by monitoring locations of radio-tagged individuals as they moved within their burrow systems. Gophers rarely came within 10 m of each other unless their home ranges abutted. This was determined by matching pairs of fixes obtained by radio-telemetry which were less than 30 minutes apart. However, gophers were aware of changes in surrounding home ranges as they investigated recently vacated home ranges within days of the disappearance of the resident gopher. Use of feces as "signposts" is suspected as one mechanism for sensing presence and reproductive status as a neighbor. Seismic vibrations from gopher digging and from their clicking vocalization are proposed as other mechanisms for detecting activities of neighboring gophers. Agonistic behavior was recorded by the tracking system more often than affiliative behavior. By the time juveniles were large enough to carry a transmitter, they had already dispersed. Seven intrusions into an occupied home range resulted in four displacements, one death, and two withdrawals. Den sites were defended from intruders. Agonistic behavior appears to be the mechanism which insures that each gopher has an adequate food supply.
Keywords. gophers, home range