Quality truffles can sell for more than a $1,000 a pound. They’re also valuable in environmental research, work that’s discussed in an article called "The Hidden Life of Truffles" in the April issue of Scientific American magazine, by Oregon State University’s James Trappe and Andrew Claridge, visiting fellow at the University of New South Wales in Australia. [See http://bit.ly/9IDzGF]
Claridge is getting better estimates of Australian endangered species populations, thanks to truffles. Some marsupials are as crazy for truffles as some humans are. Claridge soaked foam pads with olive oil infused with the scent of European black Perigord truffles, and left the pads near motion-sensing cameras. The animals came in droves, with 50 times as many individuals counted as with other techniques. Claridge used the European truffle product because it was easy to get—his team will next see the reaction of native animals to native truffles.
Meanwhile, if you want spotted owls in the Pacific Northwest, you need flying squirrels, the bird’s favorite food. Which means you need an environment rich in the squirrel’s favorite food: truffles.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]