Symbioses: Plant, Animal, and Microbe Interactions
Southworth, Darlene , Frank, Jonathan .
Mammal Mycophagy in oak woodlands.
SMALL mammals are an important component of conifer forests in which they eat hypogeous fungi and disperse spores as potential mycorrhizal inoculum. Oaks also form ectomycorrhizas with hypogeous fungi, and the sporocarps occur in soil near oaks, but no small mammal mycophagy is known from oak woodlands. Because hypogeous fungi do not release spores directly into the air, they depend on animals to eat the sporocarps and disperse the spores. The implications of a linkage among oaks, hypogeous fungi, and small mammals are considerable. Oak seedlings must obtain mycorrhizal inoculum. We hypothesized that small mammals eat hypogeous fungi and defecate the fungal spores. Further, if the hypogeous fungi are a significant component of the mycorrhizal community on saplings located away from mature oaks, then small mammals may be dispersing the fungal spores into shrublands where the saplings are located. We collected 21 species of hypogeous fungi associated with Quercus garryana and identified mycorrhizas of six hypogeous species. We trapped three species of small mammals, Microtus californicus, Peromyscus maniculatus, and Reithrodontomys megalotis, and found spores of twelve hypogeous fungal species in their fecal pellets. Small mammals differ in preferences for certain fungi. Mycorrhizal communities on Q. garryana saplings, located in Ceanothus cuneatus shrublands away from mature trees, included two hypogeous species, Tuber candidum and Peziza infossa, suggesting that small mammals disperse spores for mycorrhizal inoculum. Thus we demonstrate small mammal mycophagy of hypogeous fungi in Q.garryana ecosystems and provide evidence that mycorrhizal inoculum is distributed in fecal pellets. These results explore hidden diversity in an understudied but widespread ecosystem and have implications for restoration and management.
Log in to add this item to your schedule
1 - Southern Oregon University, Department of Biology, 1250 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland, Oregon, 97520-5010, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Topics
Date: Monday, July 31st, 2006
Time: 8:00 AM