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Cassie Hebel

2002 Research

Abstract: The response of small mammal and hypogeous ectomycorrhizal fungi after prescribed burning in a dry ponderosa pine forest

Mentor: Dr. Margaret O'Connell, Biology and Suzanne Schwab, Environmental Science

The fruiting bodies of hypogeous ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi, commonly called truffles, form a symbiotic relationship with trees. Small mammals feed upon the truffles and serve in spore dispersal. As forest managers incorporate prescribed burning into the management of a variety of forest types, there is a need to examine this interaction of fire, truffles and small mammals in different forest environment. My study examined this interaction in the dry ponderosa pine forests of the inland northwest. We compared the species composition and frequency of spores in small mammal fecal pellets in sites that had been burned two months prior, five years prior, and more than thirty years prior to sampling. Small mammals were live trapped in a 2002-burn plot, a 1997-burn plot, and adjacent unburned plots. Feces were collected from each small mammal, and examined for the frequency and type of fungal spores. Each plot was searched for underground truffle sporocarps. Small mammal populations seem to increase for several years following a fire and the composition of truffle species between sample sites were different but spore frequency was not significantly different between sample sites.


7th Annual Research & CW Symposium, EWU, May, 19, 2004

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