Today was fun but hard work!
Wow! What great questions from my awesome class today! First I want to say great job to John H., Jason, and Paige for correctly answering the catch question. We had 7 total animals caught yesterday. Also, Paige correctly answered why monitoring the small animal population is important. If the small mammal population drops too much it will affect the larger mammals that eat them. Today we had eight captures. They were all recaptures, and some were already recaptures! I think those voles figure that they get a safe night's sleep, food, water, and we let them go so why not go back for more. The exciting news is that we caught two animals in the E traps! I promised that I would handle the animal if it was in one of our traps, so here I am. You have to take off your jacket, push up your sleeves and put the trap in the bag with the hand that you use the most. Then you take the trap apart and pull out all of the hay and seed. To do that the animal has to be kept in a corner of the bag. Then you have to use to fingers and scruff the animal. It is really important to get a lot of skin, because one rodent adaptation is very loose skin. How do you think that helps the rodent? Christina looked to see if I had taken enough and then I pulled it out. Right now Christina said we will only catch adults. It is just a bit early in the season for juveniles (which are young and cannot reproduce). Juveniles will be all gray and adults have their red guard hair. However, we don't measure the size of the vole, but the weights we have had were from 19 g to 26.5 g. What does the g stand for? When we checked our traps the second time in the late afternoon, my trapping partner commented that it felt heavy and wondered if it was a chipmunk. We had just picked up a trap that has been shaken apart, and we were told that if chipmunks get in the trap they might do that. Sure enough, we had a male chipmunk weighing 100 g and because he was so feisty we named him Flash. Flash had a mark on him from last year. Between our trap checking sessions we checked for porcupine damage in the trees again. I'll talk more about why that is important tomorrow. Then we had to mark off 10m x 10m quadrats to count... snowshoe hare droppings! Every country has to monitor their small mammal populations, and Chris and Christina are try to develop a protocol for doing that. They are collecting data to help them determine how many snowshoe hare are in an area. We'll do the same thing at Cook's Lake next week which is a different type of ecosystem. Today we went into the forest, and on our hands and knees crashed through the thick brambles and over and around big rocks, and picked up every snowshoe hare dropping we could find! Yes I washed my hands very well after this task! It was very difficult work because the terrain was so hard to maneuver. However, the hare must love it, because we found MANY droppings! Each of us had a 1m x 10m line and in one quadrat Christina found over 400 droppings in her line! We had to do that four times! I was pretty scratched up by the time we were done. We were supposed to go beaver watching tonight, but it's too cold so they won't be out. Instead we are going to learn about climate change. We'll see the beavers one of these days. I can't wait to talk to you on Skype tomorrow, and I'm so proud to hear you are being a great class for Mrs. Straukas!