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

Monday, September 27, 2010

Why Monitor Mammals?

  This is the question of the day.  Why would we want to study small mammals?  What could this tell us about the ecology and about the world we are living in?  How do we define Ecology?  First let's start off with the definition of Ecology.  Ecology is defined as the study of factors which determine distribution and abundance.
     In order to answer these questions, we need to understand what makes mammals different than other organisms.  Mammals are endothermic, they feed milk to young, and they have bodies covered in hair.  But, the fact that mammals have a larger olfactory part of their brain, their ears have evolved the three small bones called the malleus, stapes, and hammer, they have a soft pallet which allows for sucking and breathing at the same time and a diaphragm, which not only aides in breathing but separates the gut from the rest of the body which allows for running and swinging from trees.  We are mammals.
     So, by studying small mammals, we see the how their abundance and distribution may be affected by different factors .  Things like how the area is being managed / maintained, eco-toxicology, environmental / climate change, the impact of human growth and loss of habitat, the impact of other mammal species moving into area (such as deer, coyote), the impact of introduced species, and inter-species interactions. 
     Methods of "how" we go about studying the mammals will be discussed throughout the week.  I leave you with tonight's assignment... how does the Parelaphostrongylus tenuis (or Meningeal Brain Worm, a nematode) affect the abundance and distribution (or ecology) of the moose and white-tailed deer populations in Nova Scotia? (Post your thoughts on schoolloop, not here.)

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