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Wyoming Pocket Gopher (Thomomys clusius): A Technical Conservation Assessment

Publication Information

Author(s):
Gary P. Beauvais
Douglas A. Keinath
Publication Date: 2006-08-31
Tags: WLCI Agency Report, WLCI

 

Pocket gophers are members of the family Geomyidae, species of which inhabit virtually all of the United 
States, a large area of southwestern Canada, and much of Mexico. They are powerfully built mammals that are 
strongly adapted to fossorial living, with small ears, small eyes, fur-lined cheek pouches used to carry food, and very 
strong front limbs with long nails used for digging. Although considered pests in some agricultural situations, pocket 
gophers are important in soil development (incorporating organic matter), soil aeration, and promoting water storage 
in soil during spring runoff.
The Wyoming pocket gopher (Thomomys clusius) is the only vertebrate animal that occurs exclusively in 
Wyoming; its known distribution is restricted to the south-central portion of the state. Almost nothing is known about 
the Wyoming pocket gopher. The entire assumption of its distribution, ecology, and status is based on a handful of 
museum records and anecdotal reports from over 30 years ago. It is a smallish pocket gopher that appears to occupy 
dry and gravelly ridges, as opposed to the valley bottoms with deeper soils that are typically associated with other 
species. The Wyoming pocket gopher is sympatric with other species of pocket gophers that look very similar (notably 
the northern pocket gopher [T. talpoides]), making it difficult to distinguish specimens to species. Therefore, although 
evidence of identity can be gained from geographic location, pelage characters, and morphology, reliable identification 
of this species involves chromosomal analysis (i.e., karyotyping to count chromosome number).

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