Distribution and Habitat Analyses of American Badgers (Taxidea taxus) and Plains Pocket Gophers (Geomys bursarius) in McLean County, Illinois

Given Harper, Alexander H. Palacios, Oscar Schmidt, Jack McKermitt, Noah Haskin, Angelo P. Capparella

Research output: Journal ArticleArticlepeer-review


Despite the loss of prairie habitat, fossorial species such as the American Badger ( Taxidea taxus ) and the Plains Pocket Gopher ( Geomys bursarius ) still persist in intensive agricultural landscapes in the Midwestern U.S. We determined the dis­tribution of the two species in McLean County, Illinois via roadside automobile surveys in 2017 and 2018. We detected 88 badger burrows (0.09 burrows/km) in 18 of 30 townships, mostly in central, southern and eastern McLean County. Based on home range size from previous studies, we estimated a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 9 badgers inhabited the bur­rows. Likewise, we recorded 245 pocket gopher mounds in 16 mound clusters (15.31 mounds/cluster; 0.02 clusters/km) in 5 of 30 townships in central and eastern McLean County. There was no significant difference in the amount of hay/pasture within the home ranges of badgers versus in random locations, and for both species there were no significant effects of soil type, distance to railroad rights-of-way, and distance to habitat along streams. Populations and distributions of both species are likely limited by the lack of grassland habitat in the county and could be below minimum viable population size.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalTransactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science
StatePublished - Oct 24 2020


  • American Badger
  • Taxidea taxus
  • Plains Pocket Gopher
  • Geomys bursarius
  • McLean County
  • Illinois
  • distribution


  • Animal Sciences
  • Zoology
  • Biology

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