Spotted Owl, Flying Squirrel, Truffle Symbiosis

Topics: Northern Spotted Owl, Flying squirrel, Spotted Owl Pages: 5 (1762 words) Published: March 8, 2010
Throughout the world there are many animals, plants, fungi and numerous other living organisms that are influenced by the overall condition or adaptations of other organisms. Whether it is a symbiotic relationship or a predator/prey relationship there are many ways in which animals and other living organisms operate and live; both dependent on others and their own adaptations. The point is that there are many relationships that provide a basis and means for the survival of a variety of different species around the world. This relationship is very apparent in the scientific findings regarding northern spotted owls (Strix Occidentalis), flying squirrels (Glaucomys Sabrinus), and truffles, which can include many varieties but especially Tuber Gibbosum in the Pacific Northwest and northern territories. Together, these animals and fungus are dependent on one another for both nutritional and reproductive reasons. The northern spotted owl, which is the dominant predator in this food chain, is threatened, as it requires special conditions in which to survive. The first condition for this owl is that it requires an old growth forest. An old growth forest is one, which has been around so long that is has attained biological characteristics that are unique. Due to continuous logging it is easy to see why the northern spotted owl is on the verge of being an endangered species. The northern spotted owls main source of nutrition is the northern flying squirrel. This squirrels main preference is to also reside in old growth forests as they provide optimal site for building nests and finding food. Truffles are the third part of this system and happen to be one of the primary food sources for the flying squirrel. Typically, truffles are found on Douglas fir trees, helping them in absorption of water and nutrients from the soil. Altogether these three individual organisms make up a circle of life and are not only vital to the health and wellbeing of each other, but also the well being of other organisms.

To first organism in this mutual relationship is the northern spotted owl. Living all in many places around the United States and Canada, these owls are a grayish brown in color and also tend to have dark eyes as if compared to other types of owls. “The northern spotted owl primarily inhabits old growth forests in the northern part of its range (Canada to southern Oregon) and landscapes with a mix of old and younger forest types in the southern part of its range (Klamath region and California)” (1). The northern spotted owl feeds on wood rats and flying squirrels, but is not just limited to just mammals. Spotted owls have also been found to consume insects, reptiles, and occasionally even other birds. Currently, the greatest threat to the spotted owl is the logging of old-growth forests. Interestingly enough, Douglas fir trees that are a part of these forests, are a preference among owls such as the northern spotted as both a shelter and a means of searching for prey. The northern spotted owl is usually only found in an old growth forest because of the amenities that the environment provides. Unfortunately, the diffusion of species due to habitat loss has also presented yet another threat. The other threat is that barred owls, which are a more aggressive owl, are competing for nest sites and food, thus hindering any hope for survival of the spotted owls. “In 1998 it was estimated that in the Northern Cascades there were only 15 breeding pairs of spotted owls, and this is why they are federally threatened while in Washington State they are an endangered species” (4). The spotted owl’s dependence on a food source, such as the flying squirrel, is necessary in maintaining a solid population as well as aiding in the continuation of this species.

The northern flying squirrel is the second organism this system, as it is crucial to the well being of both spotted owls and truffles. These nocturnal, tree dwelling rodents have a membrane attached...

Cited: 1.) October 28, 2007.
2.) Carey, Andrew. January 2004. “Squirrels Cannot Live By Truffles Alone: A Closer Look At A Northwest Keystone Complex”. Science Findings. Issue Sixty.
3.) sabrinus.html. October 1, 2007
4.) October 3, 2007
5.) Lehmkuhl, John. 2007. “Seeing the forest for the fuel: Integrating ecological values and fuels management”. Science Direct.
6.) October 28, 2007
7.) 2007. “Truffles and False Truffles in the Pacific Northwest”. Pacific Northwest Key Council. October 5, 2007
8.) November 14, 2007
9.) November 14, 2007
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