Hello my name is Mrs. Deacon. Please join me as I travel to Nova Scotia to study the ecology of mammal populations.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Prepping and Laying Out the Traps

     To catch the small mammals, you need to prepare the traps and set them down in an organized manner, or so I learned today.  The trap we are using is a long silver trap with two sections.  The first is the entrance and the second is the housing.  

 Dr. Christina showing us the trap

     To prep the traps, the team need to clean out anything that may have been left from the previous team that used them.  When this was finished, we took a "tennis ball" amount of grass and put it into the trap for bedding.  We didn't want to put too much grass or the mammal would over heat and we didn't want to put too little for fear that the mammal may suffer hypothermia.  To the grass, we added a tablespoon of food.

Collecting grass for bedding
     We assembled the two piece traps, readying them for deployment.  The team was divided into five groups (A - E) and each group was responsible for laying out their twenty traps.  Sure, you may think that sounds easy... just lay them wherever and your finished.  But no, this is scientific work we are doing here so we must be organized!
     Team "C" acted as the center point and measured 10 meters from each deployment.  All groups walked in a straight horizontal line (as best they could), setting their traps every 10 meters as we walked through trees and brush.  Also, while setting the traps, each group was responsible for marking their trail so that when we get back tomorrow, we can FIND the traps!

Adding the bedding to the trap

     Many of the trees in this area of the forest were coniferous trees, specifically pine trees.  Pine trees usually grow one main growth shoot.  If the tree looses that main shoot, then the next longest shoot will take over, and so on.  Pine weevils coevolved with its host, the pine tree.  The weevils will lay egg on the highest growing main shoot.  The larvae will hatch, eat the bark, and eventually kill the shoot.  Weevils also only lay their eggs on shoots that are in the full sun for most of the day. (These pines are warmer and help with incubation).  Would stopping the act of clear cutting forests (cutting down all the trees at one time), aide or hinder this commensalistic relationship? Why? Explain.

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