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.
PLEASE WRITE YOUR NAME IN YOUR RESPONSE SO I KNOW WHO IS RESPONDING! ANSWER IN COMPLETE SENTENCES!
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)?
Posted by Stanley Richards at 6:46 PM