Category Archives: Gopher tortoise

Planted Longleaf, Okra Paradise Farms, Lowndes County, Georgia, 17 April 2012

These are the same longleaf planted in 2008, blogged 10 October 2010, burned a second time 16 December 2011, and greening and candling again February 2012.

Pictures of Gretchen Quarterman with the planted longleaf (Pinus palustris)
by John S. Quarterman for Okra Paradise Farms, Lowndes County, Georgia, 17 April 2012.

Almost all of them survived the prescribed burn, and many of them are quite tall. The planted little bluestem and big bluestem are also thriving, along with native verbena, and some less savory invasive exotics, including trash along the road. Plus Gretchen’s favorite: dog fennel! And along the fence row cedars, pecans, plums, grapes, wild cherry, and a gopher tortoise. Here’s a flickr slideshow:

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gopher hole

Gopher tortoise hole, cleverly dug under a root:

It’s probably this gopher.

A keystone species:

The gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is named for its burrowing skills. Its shovel-shaped forefeet dig burrows up to 40 feet long that shelter and house not only tortoises, but a virtual zoo. By one count, an astonishing 362 animals take refuge in these burrows, from gopher frogs and burrowing owls to an array of snakes and invertebrates, some species depend entirely on them. If we lacked the scientific concept of a keystone species–one with an impact far beyond that expected from its numbers–we’d need to create it for the gopher tortoise, given its importance in the longleaf forest ecosystem.

Picture of Gopherus polyphemus front porch by John S. Quarterman, Lowndes County, Georgia, 19 February 2011.


Longleaf video by Nature Conservancy

With appearances by Moody Forest and people from there and from the Longleaf Alliance, not to mention gopher tortoises and indigo snakes:

Fire forest, yes! But they forgot to mention Smilax: catbriar, greenbriar, those vines that like to catch you in the woods.

Thanks to Gary Stock for the tip.


Digging Gopher Tortoise

Had to chase her with the camera, but she eventually decided to dig in to get away from the dogs and me:

I noticed this gopher because the dogs kept yipping and running over to where she was. She eventually crawled off into the underbrush and went under, as you can see.

The pictures were taken with a wireless Ethernet camera, recorded by software run out of crontab every minute. The recording ends when it started to rain and I took the camera in.

Pictures by John S. Quarterman, Lowndes County, Georgia, 16 September 2009.