Hello, I'm Mr. Richards. Please join me as I travel to Nova Scotia to study mammals!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Welcome to sunny Nova Scotia!

Well, not so sunny. It has been hovering around freezing for the past week, but in the past couple of days, the temperature has increased to a balmy 45 degrees. I have beenworking in the field, capturing voles (a small rodent) over a half hectare (about the same size as a football field).

To capture the vole, we use what
are called longworth traps
(seen to the left) that have a small opening that the vole goes through, attracted to the food and bedding in the larger chamber. When they go through, the door shuts behind them. The styrofoam covering the traps make sure that the animal is warm during the night, and the bedding and food make it comfortable for the vole.

I am in charge of 20 traps, and have been laying them
throughout the forest, trying not to get lost! Below is a picture of where I have left traps.

The investigators we are working with, Chris and Christina, have been studying small mammal populations for 5 years, looking at populations and how they are affected by climate change. Since it is the end of winter, the population is low, because they have not hit spring mating season yet, and
many do not survive the cold winters.

In your response to this blog, please answer the following questions from what you read, or what you hypothesize about what might be happening in the population.


1. How do you think we are estimating the population of voles with such a small area that we are studying (Nova Scotia is 21000 square miles)?

2. Do you think that the place where I laid my trap would be good to catch voles (think about the fact that voles are eaten by many predators, and because of that, need to hide from animals from above)? What other places should I lay traps?

3. The past Nova Scotia winter was mild in comparison to past winters. Do you think that this would affect the population of voles now? Why? How might this be connected to global warming?

4. If there was an increase in vole populations, how might that affect the food web (think about the fact that the vole is at the bottom of the web)?


  1. 1.By estimating a small population they can multiply the numbers for the actual size of the place. I thinks its a good idea because it is easier to calculate.
    2.I don't think the spot where the traps are located are good areas because the voles can see them. It would be better if you were to hide them so they wont see it. The whole point of a trap is to hide it so they get trapped.
    3.Yes because the weather can affect the way the find their food. But it depends on how the cold or the warm weather affects the voles and its predators. For example if its warmer the predators will wake up earlier and hunt them.
    4.This affects the food web because anything that the vole eats it will be in shorter supply.

    -Raquel Rodriguez

  2. Erika Mejia

    1. By reviewing the number of population there was before and after winter and how many you catch now.

    2. It might not be the best idea to put the traps in the forest cause of predators but then again I don't know where else you can place the traps where voles are likely to go.

    3. If the winter was milder now then before then it might be connect to global warming. It might affect the voles matting season because of the lack of cold.

    4. Other predators will not receive their food to live and they will decrease in population and that will effect bigger animals on the food web.

  3. 1. I think you can estimate the population by taking total vole population in Nova Scotia, then dividing Nova Scotia's total area by the size of a football field, then dividing the total vole population by the number you got from NovaScotia/Footballfield.

    2. Putting traps in hiding places is a very good idea, the vole will see that the trap is covered when running from beasts and will quickly hide in there. I don't know the layout of Nova Scotia but Im guessing near trees and in tall grass would be good. Trees are another hiding spot for animals, and animals generally seem to like them, and tall grass is yet another hiding place BUT it's also a place where animals can find their food.

    3. The vole population would be a little higher during mild winters because as you said, the population goes down in the winter (large beasts need their food before hibernation I guess) but the mild-ness of the winter might throw off the animal's brains and less of them will die. You can say that global warming has something to do with the weather changes, or you could say that winters always differ and fluctuate.

    4. If there was a higher vole population, there would be a higher vole-eating beast population because they'll be well fed. Because the beast population is higher, they'll eat more voles which decreases the vole population. Because there aren't enough voles to keep the vole-beasts well fed, the vole-beast population will decrease. Because the vole-beast population has decreased, the vole population will once again increase.

    -Katie Mobley - Vole Enthusiast

  4. 1. you most likely take the number you estamated of the population where you are researching and times that by the areas that are populated with voles. you also have to take into considerration the amount of that may be living during the season in these places sa well as they amount of land is there populated by voles compared to your space. this is a way i predict you got your prediction.

    2.depending on what time it was it would be good to catch on at night maybe not in the day because it noticable. then again i have never cought voles in my life there for dont know much about them. are they really smart or not so much because if there not so smart then its a great spot. they come around the cornner and run right into the trap, or there smart and in that case hide it way better.

    3.i think that yes it would an is going to affect the population dont know by how much or in what way but will affect the population. because heat change is messing up natures plans.

    4.this could cause many things like a feed back loop where the preditores of voles would also increase because they have to less time unting food because size of the population. but dirasticly decreasing the pray of voles where this decrease would curcle throw the loop and after while fade away

  5. 1. You can guess from the amount in that small area and multiply to estimate the whole area.

    2. Yes that is a good spot because it is next to a rock with an overhang the voles could hide from predators in. other good places would be next to tree stumps and in logs.

    3. Voles hibernate so they might have hibernated for a shorter period of time since it was mild. This might increase the amount of food they can get which would in turn increase the population. Global warming probably was the cause of the mild winter but it really could have been anything.

    4.That would increase the predators population.