Small mammals such as mice and chipmunks who are not picky eaters play a more important role than previously known in dispersing the spores of wild mushrooms and truffles, according to new research from the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire.
Mushrooms and truffles are key components to forests where they colonize the roots of plants and assist with water and nutrient uptake. They also play a fundamental role in helping reestablish plants following disturbances such as wildfires, volcanic eruptions, and the retreat of melting glaciers.
The research was conducted by Ryan Stephens, a postdoctoral researcher, and Rebecca Rowe, associate professor of natural resources and the environment. Scientists spent three years collecting and analyzing more than 1,200 scat samples collected from small mammals at the Bartlett Experimental Station in the White Mountain National Forest to determine the types and amounts of spores they are dispersing.
This material is based upon work supported by the NH Agricultural Experiment Station, through joint funding of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and the state of New Hampshire.