The Effects of Pocket Gopher Burrowing on Water Balance and Erosion from Landfill Covers
A 2-yr field study was conducted to evaluate the impact of burrowing and soil casting by pocket gophers (Thomomys bottae) on runoff, soil loss (mass and size distribution), soil moisture status, and transport of stable cesium (133Cs) that was applied to the soil surface. A rotating boom rainfall simulator was used on 3.1 by 10.9 m landfill cover plots with and without vegetation and with and without pocket gopher burrowing. Gopher burrowing in the presence of vegetation resulted in large decreases in runoff, erosion, and cesium loss via erosion but increased migration of cesium to the subsurface soil due to increased infiltration. Vegetation slightly decreased runoff but greatly decreased erosion and cesium loss by erosion. As with gophers, vegetation enhanced movement of cesium into the soil. Under the conditions of this study, the effects of pocket gopher burrowing in degrading a landfill cover were minimal when vegetation was a component of the cover.
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