Date of Graduation

5-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Biological Sciences

Advisor

Steven L. Stephenson

Committee Member

Frederick Spiegel

Second Committee Member

J D. Wilson

Keywords

Fungi, Mycology, Myxomycetes, Slime Mold

Abstract

Myxomycetes and dictyostelids are Amoebozoans that are cosmopolitan inhabitants of a variety of habitats, particularly forest environments. Both groups reproduce using spores which are primarily dispersed via wind in myxomycetes but this characteristic poses a problem for dictyostelids. The spores of dictyostelids are incased in a mucilaginous matrix that makes wind ineffective except in exceptional cases. It has been suggested that animals such as birds may play an important yet understudied role in the dispersal of these organisms. This study investigated how animals could potentially serve as vectors for spore dispersal of dictyostelids and myxomycetes with some limited data obtained of higher fungi. The ecology of these organisms is understudied and the potential interactions between these and other animals is largely unknown. Animals may disperse spores to different areas by consuming spores or other animals such as insects that have consumed spores, or by moving across areas where myxomycetes and dictyostelids occur. Coprophilous myxomycetes occur primarily on dung and data was collected from the northwest Arkansas area investigating potential differences in the species composition of myxomycetes isolated on the dung of large herbivorous mammals. There is limited previous data indicating that birds, amphibians, small mammals, and bats may disperse the spores of dictyostelids and this study was the first recorded instance where dictyostelids have been isolated from reptiles.

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