Scientific Paper Series 2: Anticostl Island, Mycophagy of White-Tailed Deer in the Boreal Forest

Scientific Paper Series 2: Anticostl Island, Mycophagy of White-Tailed Deer in the Boreal Forest

Here's the paper/study.

Mycophagy of White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus Zimmermann) in the Boreal Forest

There is a lot to digest here, first the Island is overpopulated and that has led this paper to be trivialized in some capacities. Of particular interest on my side of the equation here is the DNA testing, and the fact that these animals were adapting to overpopulation by targeting fungi heavier than would have been noticed prior to the overbrowse. The scat and rumen content DNA sequencing of not just the fruitng bodies  (what we think of as a mushroom) which were being consumed but also the amount of endophytic or "inside of plants" fungi that were being consumed via the browse and forbes was astounding.  This really drove home the point of fungal rich areas having healthier plants, which have better nutrition as a feed resource.

With regards to the fruiting body or sporocap being consumed here, the diversity of species consumed was amazing. Seeing that bucks and does consumed many overlapping species was what i expected and had observed prior to reading this. But, when I dug deeper here I was able to isolate species which were only consumed by bucks that was eye opening. Of the species recorded in a bucks diet but not in the does with prevelancy during the harvest sampling, many were lowland species which begs the question of whether they were consuming those particular fungi as a result of human hunting pressure or whether they were in fact sought after by males. If the latter is true, then finding out if any of those species are particulalrly high in minerals, specific fats, aminos or novel compounds which correlate to higher testosterone and glandular activity is a rabbit hole I'd love to go down. Speculatively I ponder on whether the fungi responded to this predation and were produced in heavier volumes as a result of the predation by deer, similarly to how picking a tomato off of the plant just prior to perfection causes the one next door to accelerate ripening in an effort to achieve reproductive success.

Full disclaimer folks, not everyone believes deer eat mushrooms, and "if they do.. it's only because they are starving". Grant Woods, youtube guru at and professor at Auburn University threw those words in my face 90 seconds in to a phone call, then laughed mushrooms as a feed resource, then mocked me in front of his interns whom heard everything on speakerphone on the truck. He then asked if they would be interested in any of this and they of course laughingly said no. I have a feeling those comments won't age well for him. However as the forgive and forget sorta fella that I am, I hold nothing against him.. at least nothing that an apology on a public stage won't fix, and I ain't holding my breath on that one. I will say I was excited to have a conversation with a professor whom I anticipated being an objective and rational professional like my favorite teachers were, sadly I did not experience that with him and luckily I am fortunate enough to communicate with many other top professors in the same industry who are very excited about this. It is sad that this paper is a point of contention amongst the uninformed and willfully ignorant peanut gallery members of the clapback crowd whom have managed to deduce that "deer only eat mushrooms if they're starving" after reading it. 

However I or anyone else interpreting this study, one thing is absolutely certain. This herd consumed far more fungi during the hunting season than the existing whitetail diet graphs currently demonstrate.  Regardless of interpretation, this piece of science demonstrates the importance of fungi in the diet of whitetails and places a definitive premium on them as a metric of value when evaluating habitat. Whether the "higher than normal" percentage of mycophagy in this paper is the result of overpopulation or not is not of concern in my opinion, matter of factly on my side of the fence, if that is true.. it shows us that as a population becomes larger fungi are even more valuable on the landscape. If I were a University fella instead of a working man, I'd be using this paper as a roadmap to independantly analyze scat samples from collared bucks in an area where the deer arent heavily overpopulated to advance the body of knowledge and draw my own conclusions. Alas I am not endowed with the resources to do this gig, so I can only hope somehow, somewhere a student is a mushroom and deer freak too. And I pray that person is fortunate enough to use resouces at their disposal to investigate cervid mycophagy to the enth degree with dna analysis, good luck whoever you are, I'm rooting for ya.

I'd love to hear you the readers thoughts on this paper and study, feel free to hit me up anytime. 

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