Northern Flying Squirrel Poop

The northern flying squirrel is a keystone species because of its role in facilitating a relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and dominant canopy tree species (Maser and Maser 1988).
The squirrel feeds on truffles and deposits fecal pellets with fungal spores and nitrogen-fixing bacteria across the forest floor (Maser and Maser 1988). The spores germinate and contribute new genetic material to existing fungal colonies or establish new colonies. Mycorrhizae enhance trees’ ability to absorb water and nutrients, and trees are the fungi’s primary source of energy. Thus, the northern flying squirrel poop
facilitates a symbiotic mutualism that contributes to revitalizing its forest habitat and a staple food source (Maser and Maser 1988).

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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