Soil Mixing by Scarab Beetles and Pocket Gophers in North-Central Florida1
- P. J. Kalisz and
- E. L. Stone2
Soil mixing by scarab beetles (Peltotrupes youngi) and pocket gophers (Geomys pinetus) was studied on deep sands in north-central Florida. Mound construction was monitored for 2 y on longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) (LLP) sites with dense and sparse wiregrass (Aristida stricta), and on sand pine (P. clausa) (SP) sites with dense and sparse scrub (Quercus spp.) understories. Adult beetles were active from November to April and constructed vertical tunnels at least as deep as 360 cm. Soil deposited in beetle mounds averaged 20 and 580 kg ha−1 yr−1 in SP stands with dense and sparse understories, respectively, and 1510 and 3700 kg ha−1 yr−1 in LLP stands with dense and sparse grass. Pocket gophers were absent from SP, but mounding averaged 8160 and 290 kg ha−1 yr−1 on LLP sites with dense and sparse grass. Mounding by beetles was as high as 7800 kg ha−1 yr−1, and pocket gopher mounds covered 4% of the surface area and weighed 37 500 kg ha−1 on some LLP sites. On areas with chemically contrasting soil layers, beetle mounds contained significantly greater amounts of extractable P, Ca, and Mg than the surrounding 0- to 10-cm soil. Burrowing and upward soil transport also alter surface textures and produce tunnels that may function as root pathways through the generally dense subsoil. The occurrence and thickness of A horizons under LLP and E horizons under SP are also related to differences in extent of faunal mixing between the two vegetations.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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