Truffle detection by flying squirrels

A longstanding puzzle has been solved. How do northern flying squirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus) locate truffles (Gautieria monticola) – bearing in mind that the truffles are a subterranean and ephemeral but primary food source? Sanjay Pyare (Assistant Professor of GIS and Landscape Ecology, at the University of Alaska Southeast, ) and colleague William S Longland (at the Agricultural Research Service, Reno, NV) investigated this question back in 2001, and published the results of their observations in the Canadian Journal of Zoology, 2001, 79:1007-1015, 10.1139/z01-069.

Their field study showed that not only do flying squirrels find truffles using their sense of smell – but they also remember where they found truffles on previous occasions  (truffles often re-grow in the same spot for several years).

More truffle hunting news soon . . .