Publication Date

Fall 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Environmental Biology

First Advisor

John Yunger, Ph. D.

Second Advisor

Mary E. Carrington, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Xiaoyong Chen, Ph.D.


Burrowing of subterranean mammals can have ecological effects on overlying vegetation, invertebrate communities, and surrounding soil characteristics. Franklin’s ground squirrel (Spermophilus franklinii) is a declining, tunneling mammal species previously found throughout Central Illinois. Preference for natural tallgrass prairie habitat with loose soil marks Illinois as the southern extreme of their range. Through urbanization and agricultural practices this species’ population numbers have declined dramatically in southern and central Illinois. This study looks at the effects simulated Franklin’s ground squirrel burrows have on soil invertebrate composition, abundance, and diversity by comparing effects of the presence/exclusion of burrows, animals, and their interactions. Through experimental plot manipulation we discovered that simulated burrowing has limited effects on soil invertebrate abundance. However, it’s most pronounced effects were found at the entrance of the burrow where abundances were 33% to 50% lower than all other sampling locations. Interactive effects of burrow and animal also had an effect on Homoptera and Coleoptera abundance, only when burrow and animal were present simultaneously. The independent presence of an animal was also shown to have an overall effect on soil invertebrate diversity. Future research is recommended to look at the effects of simulated burrowing on plant community composition as well as soil characteristics and attempt to unite all three factors.