general info about Theriologia Ukrainica

Theriologia Ukrainica

ISSN 2616-7379 (print) • ISSN 2617-1120 (online)

2023 • Vol. 26 • Contents of volume >>>

download pdfBuynevich, I. 2023. Non-invasive (georadar) investigation of groundhog (Marmota monax) burrows, Pennsylvania, USA. Theriologia Ukrainica, 26: 159–166. [In English, with Ukrainian summary]



Non-invasive (georadar) investigation of groundhog (Marmota monax) burrows, Pennsylvania, USA


Ilya Buynevich (orcid: 0000-0002-3840-0208)


Temple University (Philadelphia, USA)


Theriologia Ukrainica. 2023. Vol. 26: 159–166.




English, with Ukrainian summary, titles of tables, captures to figs


Zoogenic impact plays a critical role in stream processes, especially bank stability and resulting channel dynamics. This study focuses on bioturbation by groundhogs (Marmota monax) along the riparian zone of Mill Creek (Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA). Several complexes comprising at least 32 active burrows (average diameter: 25.9 cm) were geolocated, with morphometric measurements obtained at selected sites. Two networks were imaged using high-frequency 800 MHz ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and included: 1) a grid of parallel 3-m-long transects on the south bank, and 2) an 11-m-long profile on the north bank. Post-processed electromagnetic signal traces (A-scans) comprising 2D radargrams (B-scans) revealed voids as reverse-polarity anomalies (hollow inclined shafts and tunnels), allowing for a general assessment of burrow depth and orientation. At the southern cutbank site, a large burrow had an entrance diameter of 0.3 m and a westerly dip. A sloping tunnel section was detected at ~0.5 m depth, based on the geometry of point-source (transverse) hyperbolic diffractions corresponding to the roof and a floor ‘pull-up’. The second locality traversed three open burrow entrances adjacent to large tree roots. This survey along a tributary channel shows multiple hyperbolics below adjacent openings, with the latter showing the characteristic signal ‘breakout’. GPR data show hyperbolic signatures ~0.3–0.4 m below the ground surface. Along this transect, burrowing activity appears to increase with proximity to the northern bank of Mill Creek. An example of a depth slice (bedding-plane view) from a nearby riverbank demonstrates the potential for 3D visualization (C-scans) of burrow networks using a grid of closely spaced GPR profiles. Groundhog burrows constrain maximum long-term level of the groundwater table and serve as important zoogeomorphic structures in diverse ecotones, including developed landscapes. Abundant evidence of bank slumping, incision, and treefall suggests that burrowing activity likely weakens root systems and enhances groundwater flow, thereby initiating or accelerating geomorphic cascades leading to slope failure.


bioturbation, georadar, tunnel, slope



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