Date of Award

5-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Environmental and Forest Biology

Thesis Advisor

Alexander Weir

Abstract

There have been many accounts of small mammals consuming and dispersing subterranean (hypogeous) fungi, yet few studies have been conducted in the Northeastern United States. For this reason, we analyzed several small mammal species including deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus), southern red-backed vole (Myodes gapperi), eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) and short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda) to determine the extent of fungal consumption in the central Adirondack Mountains in New York. Analysis of several other species caught infrequently during the study included smoky shrews (Sorex fumeus) woodland jumping mouse (Napaeozapus insignis) and northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus). Examination of 61 fecal samples revealed fungal spores of the hypogeous fungi Glomus spp. and Russulaceae with one sample from eastern chipmunk containing Gautieria and one sample from flying squirrel containing spores of the family Boletaceae and Elaphomycetaceae not found in other samples. We found Russulaceae spores in 66% of eastern chipmunks and 35.7% of red-backed voles. Glomus spores occurred in 35.7% of red-backed voles, 16% of eastern chipmunks, 10% of short-tailed shrews and 5% of deer mice. Comparisons of fungal and insect items to sex, area and species resulted in few statistically significant differences (p > 0.05). However, we believe the data shows biological significance of hypogeous fungi thus, wildlife managers should consider mycophagy when addressing the overall health of forest ecosystems in the Northeast.

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