Bob Taylor rtaylor at
Sun Aug 29 15:06:41 EST 1999

> Once again, for those who are not already aware, the Northern Spotted
> owl is an indicator species for forest health _mostly_ because it
> spreads a wide variety of mycorrhizal fungi faster and more efficiently
> than any other animal. Other known vectors for mycorrhizal dispersal
> include at least 60 animals including deer, bear, cougar, deer mice,
> California Red-backed vole, Red tree vole, elk, and humans. Of these
> vectors, the one capable of the greater dispersal is the owl.
> A single owl pellet may contain millions or billions of mycorrhizal
> spores representing over 100 species. Mycorrhizal fungi are now
> considered essential to tree development past seedling stage.

I suggest that you may be a little preoccupied with mycorrhizal fungi.  I
don't question their ecological importance, and I don't question their
neglect by the F.S. and the ecological research community.  But to suggest
that the spotted owl was chosen as an indicator species because it
disperses fungal spores strains credulity.  It was chosen because it was
thought to be an old-growth specialist.  The endangered species act can be
used to protect animals.  It cannot be used to protect seral stages.  

Your post illustrates how dificult it is to work with biologists.  They
tend to be so focused on their taxa of choice that they lose perspective on
the overall forest community, not to mention the full range of management

Bob Taylor  

More information about the Ag-forst mailing list