Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mammalogy Project

For one of the projects in Mammalogy class this semester, another student and I decided to conduct a survey of the ground-dwelling small mammals of a local nature center and park. We set live traps in three different habitats and discovered that Peromyscus species are abundant everywhere (there are two species, P. leucopus and P. maniculatus, the white footed mouse and the deer mouse, respectively, which both live in this area but are exceedingly difficult to differentiate without doing molecular or biochemical work - based on morphological characteristics though, we think that most, if not all, of the ones we caught were likely P. leucopus, but we can't be certain). We also caught several Northern Short-tail shrews and a single jumping mouse but were not rewarded with captures of any other types of shrews, harvest mice, moles, voles or bog-lemmings.

While I was washing out the traps after the project was over my grandparents' cat brought me a meadow vole - one of the species we had hoped to catch but didn't... although dead, its skin was not badly damaged so I brought it to school and stuffed it for a study skin to put in our museum.

Zapus Hudsonius/Meadow Jumping Mouse

Tallgrass meadow in which we had the most captures of any habitat

Peromyscus species - lovingly referred to by us as Promiscuous due to their abundance... and then if it is running away from a fox it becomes a "chaste Promiscuous"

Our friendly forest guardian