We studied the effects of 6 green-tree retention levels and patterns on the diets of northern flying squirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus), Townsend's chipmunks (Tamias townsendii), Siskiyou chipmunks (T. siskiyou), western red-backed voles (Myodes californicus), and southern red-backed voles (Myodes gapperi) using fecal pellet analysis. These rodents are truffle spore dispersers and prey for forest predators such as the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina). Pretreatment diets showed differences in truffle and plant consumption among genera. Tree harvesting, especially in the 15% aggregated retention pattern, reduced frequency of Rhizopogon spores in the diet of voles, which may reflect a reduced ability of these animals to forage for Rhizopogon truffles, a decreased access to these truffles, or a reduction in Rhizopogon truffle abundance or frequency. Habitat island effects and edge effects provide conceptual frameworks for the reduction in consumption of Rhizopogon truffles by voles in green-tree aggregates. Overall, small mammal consumption of truffles showed little change in response to the treatments. Animals may be compensating for a locally declining food source by altering their foraging behavior. The long-term effect of this postulated behavioral compensation on small mammal energetics and population dynamics is unknown. Forest managers may reduce the impact of tree harvesting on these key forest ecosystem components by including green-tree aggregates within a dispersed retention matrix.
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Vol. 72 • No. 8