Organic matter in contact with soil is quickly colonised by fungi. This study compared communities of moulds found in the soil of burrows of the banner-tailed kangaroo rat, Dipodomys spectabilis Merriam, to those found in surrounding grassland. Soil samples (n = 138) were collected between 1989 and 1991. Fungal colonies were five times more abundant in burrow soils than away from burrows. Community composition also differed substantially, with many fungi more abundant in burrows than away from burrows. A diverse, but relatively predictable, community of moulds inhabits the burrow soils and is available to colonise seeds hidden within burrows. The results suggest that mutualistic interactions between the moulds and the rodent are possible, but there are as yet no data evaluating this. Burrows and dens of many animals, especially in arid environments, are likely to be important sites of microbial activity and decomposition.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Earth-Surface Processes