Microbial Ecology

, Volume 78, Issue 1, pp 223–231 | Cite as

Variations in Gut Microbiota of Siberian Flying Squirrels Correspond to Seasonal Phenological Changes in Their Hokkaido Subarctic Forest Ecosystem

  • Po-Yu Liu
  • An-Chi Cheng
  • Shiao-Wei Huang
  • Hao-Wei Chang
  • Tatsuo Oshida
  • Hon-Tsen YuEmail author
Host Microbe Interactions


Gut microbial communities of animals are influenced by diet and seasonal weather changes. Since foraging strategies of wild animals are affected by phenological changes, gut microbial communities would differ among seasons. However, interactions of plant-animal-microbiota with seasonal changes have not been well characterized. Here, we surveyed gut microbial diversity of Siberian flying squirrels (Pteromys volans orii) from a natural forest in Hokkaido during spring and summer of 2013 and 2014. Additionally, we compared microbial diversity to temperature changes and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). Changes in both seasonal temperature and phenology were significantly associated with alterations in gut microbiota. There were two clusters of OTUs, below and above 20 °C that were significantly correlated with low and high temperatures, respectively. Low-temperature cluster OTUs belonged to various phyla, whereas the high-temperature cluster was only constituted by Firmicutes. In conclusion, gut microbiota of Siberian flying squirrels varied with environmental changes on an ecological scale.


Pteromys volans orii Folivorous flying squirrel Gut microbiota Phenology 



We thank Hao-Ting Chang for guidance regarding analysis of normalized difference vegetation index, A. Sanyoshi and K. Iguchi of the University of Tokyo Hokkaido Forest for their cooperation in the field, and John Wang for helpful comments for this manuscript.

Author Contributions

P-YL, A-CC, and H-TY conceived the study design; PY-L, HW-C, TO, and H-TY collected sample; P-YL, A-CC, and S-WH conducted experiments; P-YL and A-CC conducted bioinformatics analyses; P-YL, A-CC, S-WH, and H-TY wrote the first draft. All authors contributed to data interpretation and preparation of the final manuscript. All authors reviewed and approved the final manuscript.

Funding Information

This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan (MOST 103-2311-B-002-001 and MOST 106-2633-B-006-004).

Supplementary material

248_2018_1278_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (542 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 541 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Po-Yu Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • An-Chi Cheng
    • 2
  • Shiao-Wei Huang
    • 2
  • Hao-Wei Chang
    • 2
    • 3
  • Tatsuo Oshida
    • 4
  • Hon-Tsen Yu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Genome and Systems Biology Degree ProgramNational Taiwan University and Academia SinicaTaiwanRepublic of China
  2. 2.Department of Life ScienceNational Taiwan UniversityTaiwanRepublic of China
  3. 3.Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis Program, Division of Biology and Biomedical ScienceWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  4. 4.Laboratory of Wildlife BiologyObihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary MedicineObihiroJapan

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