Consumption of Truffles and other Fungi by the American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) and the Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) (Sciuridae) in Northwestern Ontario
Keywords:hypogeous fungi, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, Tamias striatus, Sciuridae, mycophagy, truffles, Elaphomyces, Gautieria, Hymenogaster, Hysterangium, Leucangium, Boletales, Pezizales, Tricholomataceae, Agaricales, Ontario
AbstractFaecal matter collected from the American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) and the Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) on the campus of Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, was examined for the presence of consumed fungal tissue. A total of 14 faecal samples were collected from live-trapped animals over six trapping periods (19 June to 25 September 2010). Eight samples contained intact remains of spores representative of hypogeous truffle fungi found in the genera Elaphomyces, Gautieria, Hymenogaster, Hysterangium, and Leucangium, as well as spores of epigeous mushrooms found in the orders Boletales and Pezizales and possibly in the family Tricholomataceae of the Agaricales. The results of this brief survey suggest not only the importance of mycophagy in the diet of American Red Squirrels and Eastern Chipmunks in the boreal mixed wood forests of northwestern Ontario but also the important role played by sciurids in vectoring spores of truffle fungi in this region.
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