Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Biology (MS)

First Advisor/Chairperson

Alec Lindsay


Decay fungi may aid primary cavity excavators, such as woodpeckers, in nest excavation by softening wood, and in turn the excavators disperse fungi. Recent molecular techniques have allowed researchers to examine communities of fungi present in environmental samples more comprehensively than ever before. However, this association has not been examined for primary excavating songbirds (Passeriformes). In this study, I examine the communities of fungi in trees selected by black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) and compare them to communities in non-selected control trees to determine whether chickadee nest trees are associated with specific fungal taxa and communities. Overall, I identified 201 fungal OTUs to species level. Among the fungal OTUs identified to phylum level, 706 (63%) belonged to Ascomycota, 284 (25%) Basidiomycota, four (0.35%) Mortierellomycota, two (0.2%) Glomeromycota, two (0.2%) Mucoromycota, while 122 (11%) fungal OTUs could not be identified to the phylum level or lower. The fungal community composition and multivariate dispersion between different tree species was not significantly different. The fungal community composition and multivariate dispersion between nest and control trees was not significantly different. Nest trees had significantly lower wood hardness than controls. An indicator species analysis showed that nest trees were significantly associated with five fungal OTUs. While community composition of fungi in nest and controls are not significantly different, the indicator species analysis results indicate that chickadees may select nest trees that contain specific taxa of fungi, or, inoculate trees with fungi.

Access Type

Open Access

Justification for Restricting Access

I request an embargo to be placed on this thesis so that the public may not access it before it is published in a journal.

Available for download on Wednesday, November 13, 2024