Tag Archives: Gopher tortoise

Gopher tortoise burrow in burned longleaf, with dogs 2019-01-27

After the prescribed burn, it’s a lot easier to see, and there are more gopher tortoise burrows than we thought.

With dogs, Gopher hole

Here’s another Gopherus polyphemus near the road. It’s good there are so many. Gophers are a keystone species, hosting Continue reading

longleaf and wiregrass

The two plants that most characterize Georgia’s southern longleaf forests: Pinus palustris and Aristida stricta. These two are natives; they and their ancestors have lived on this spot since the last ice age.

About Longleaf (Pinus palustris), wiregrass (Aristida stricta), and gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) by the Longleaf Alliance:

We believe that longleaf in any form is better than a cotton field; that longleaf and native ground cover (like wiregrass) is better than longleaf alone; that longleaf, wiregrass, and gopher tortoises are better than longleaf and wiregrass alone.

Picture of Pinus palustris and Aristida stricta by John S. Quarterman, Lowndes County, Georgia, 19 February 2011.

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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.

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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.

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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.