Great Basin Naturalist


We examined the mycophagy (ingestion of fungi) of squirrels of five genera and eight species in the coniferous forests of Oregon. Data from 644 dietary samples demonstrated that squirrels of all eight species are mycophagous and eat the belowground fruiting bodies of at least 26 genera of mycorrhizal fungi. Four species are primarily arboreal and active throughout the year; the other four are primarily terrestrial and hibernate during winter. Of the squirrels examined, only the northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus [Shaw]) is nocturnal and almost exclusively a fungivore. The flying squirrel is used to illustrate the dynamics of all the squirrels in association with hypogeous mycorrhizal fungi, nitrogen-fixing bacteria, yeast, and coniferous trees in Oregon forests because we have studied it the most. Squirrels may prove to be vital links among different processes within temperate coniferous forests.