Journal archives for December 2019

01 December, 2019

Gopher Gawking Guide

Gopher gawking is becoming almost as popular as bird watching (well, maybe that's an overstatement), but there aren't many gopher gawking guides available. So to help with IDs, I've updated the taxon range maps for Geomys here in iNat. By using the "Compare/Suggestions" feature, one can make pretty confident IDs based on these distribution maps. All the species of Geomys look about the same, so geographical location is really the only way to ID them without genetic data. The range maps I added here on iNat should be fairly accurate. I've spent a considerable amount of time in the published literature to get these maps as accurate as possible. I've also spent time in the field and have used DNA sequencing to clarify some areas. Also, I've generated soil maps using GIS to fine tune potential distributions in Texas. And I've supplemented all this by locating gopher mounds using Google Maps satellite imagery in parts of Texas. The contact zones between some species pairs have not been mapped well yet (requiring much field work and genetic analysis), so these remain areas of uncertainty: G. knoxjonesi vs. G. bursarius in the Texas panhandle, G. personatus vs. G. attwateri between San Antonio and Corpus Christi, and G. bursarius vs. G. breviceps in the Oklahoma City/Norman area. Otherwise, one can ID gophers of the genus Geomys quite accurately using these iNat range maps.

In western TX and eastern NM, two other genera of gophers occur (Cratogeomys and Thomomys) and they can be difficult to distinguish from Geomys without a specimen in hand (showing the incisors) in areas where their range overlaps.

Range maps of each species of Geomys (based on museum data and unpublished research):,44058,44053,44054,44059,44055,44060,74359,%2044057,423601,44056#6/34.251/-93.87

To ID your gopher (assuming it's Geomys), click the "compare" button, make sure Geomys is the Taxon and United States is the Place. From there you'll have the list of species to choose from and their range maps.

For documenting gophers, pics of mounds can be sufficient, but be sure to get pics that distinguish them from mole hills. These characteristics include the following.
  1. Texture of soil in the mound and shape of mound:
    --very lumpy texture and symmetrical mound shape = mole
    --granular texture (not lumpy) and asymmetrical (often with a plug visible toward one side) = gopher

  2. Position of mounds (this difference not always visible, use in conjunction with soil texture and shape of mounds):
    --no directional pattern or rarely distinctly curved line = mole
    --one or two small (6-10") lumpy mounds = mole (gophers usually have 6 or more mounds of various stages of weathering)
    --several mounds in a fairly straight line = gopher

  3. Raised tunnels pushed up as the animal moves along just below the surface = mole (gophers' tunnels are well below ground and never visible at the surface). These raised tunnels aren't always present, but when they are, it's a sure sign of moles and not gophers.

Have fun gopher gawking!

Posted on 01 December, 2019 03:04 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 5 comments | Leave a comment

14 December, 2019

Link multiple observations of same individual over time

This is something that I'd like to do more often, as the opportunity arises. So here's a reminder for myself on how to do it. While this focuses on linking observations of same individual over time, the same workflow can be used to link associations of any kind (e.g. plant/animal associations) by using an appropriate term as the Observation Field (e.g. Associated observation).

  1. After creating the first observation, add "Similar observation set" (or "Observation group", or "Same specimen over time") as the Observation Field. A box appears in which you type the ID number of the first observation (or copy/paste from the URL).
  2. Repeat this for each observation, typing in the same ID number for all of them.
  3. To see all observations in the set, click on the field name and select “Observations with this field and value”.
  4. To make it more obvious that each observation is part of a set, copy this URL and add it to the description field of each observation.
  5. If it would be useful, compile your list of observation sets by making a journal post (or include in your profile) so you can go back and find these quickly. You can use this URL to display all of your observations that make use of "similar observation set". Like this: [just replace my ID with your ID].

This approach was originally described here and there's a detailed tutorial here.

Some of my linked observations are here:

Life cycles by kimberlietx:

Other folks' life cycle collections:

Posted on 14 December, 2019 22:52 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 8 comments | Leave a comment

31 December, 2019

Accurate geotagging

My old camera had a built-in GPS, but it usually took forever to get satellite readings and so many of my pics were missing the geotag. My new camera doesn't have GPS built in. So, when I'm out on an observing trek and want to make sure I get accurate locations, I'm using a phone app that records location as a GPX file. I start the app to record my trek (I have it set to record my location every few seconds) and then, later, I sync my pics with the locations using GPicSync software on my computer (it ties pics with locations based on the timestamp).

I originally used GPXLogger but it is no longer available. GPS Logger (BasicAirData) is an alternative for Android users. I look for apps that do not share data with third parties.

Posted on 31 December, 2019 23:38 by pfau_tarleton pfau_tarleton | 0 comments | Leave a comment