Hello! My name is Mrs. Clark. Please join me as I travel to study the mammals of Nova Scotia!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Westward Ho!

As I look back on the Earthwatch Mammal Expedition I cannot even put into words the experience it has been in Nova Scotia. The entire time I was surrounded by wonderful smart people, the housing, weather, and food were awesome. My mind is full of a multitude of new information and I know with stick with me forever. Much of this information was on the blog but there is yet more. Spending time outside while contributing to the research of Dr. Neumann and Dr. Buesching's data was very enjoyable. I had no major technology failure and kept in good contact with my students and community while on expedition. I would highly suggest to anyone who saw themselves in my shoes for any or all of my Earthwatch expedition to have as many conversations with me as they want when I am back. This is because until you experience Earthwatch Expeditions you cannot put your mind around what it has to offer you.

New Lingo and BIG Mammals Seen

Our PI(Principal Investigators) Dr. Chris Neumann and Dr. Christina Buesching are from England and Germany. Often our Earthwatch team was somewhat confused by what they had said or asked us to do and they were speaking english and the foreign country was only Canada. Here are some of the new words we had to learn:
Sticking plaster
Head Torch
Rubbish bag
Kitchen roll
Car park

For example: Mrs. Clark take a piece of the kitchen roll on the cooker and dry the beaker.
Translation: Mrs Clark use a piece of paper towel from on the stove to dry the cup.

Here are the other ones in order from the list above: band aid, rubber boots, head lamp, gun, stove, paper towel, cup, parking lot, and subway.

At the Seaside Adjunct of Keji we hiked 5 miles along the coast and saw our largest mammals yet! Take a look at the seal, this one was posing for the picture most of the rest were swimming in the Atlantic. Additionally, 2 porcpines were seen! Very few on the team had ever seen a wild porcupine so it was very exciting.

Friday, April 8, 2011

You can do this too!

If you could travel to anywhere to conduct environmental research where would you go and what would you start research on?
Students go to http://www.earthwatch.org/expedition/teenteam and learn about the Earthwatch expeditions YOU as a student can take part in called the Earthwatch teen team.

Of all the students in your class who should be nominated for an Earthwatch expedition by me? Explain why.
Who is the next Suring teacher who should apply for an expedition like I am on? Explain why.

Teachers take a look too for the educator section on Live From the Field program at http://www.earthwatch.org/aboutus/education/edopp/lff/. Start preparing now for the next application deadline which is September.
Several new posts are up for yesterday and today. Make sure to read them all and learn.

Animals in Action

When researchers want to see animals in action we might use a trail camera instead of sitting and waiting for hours when the animals may never show up until dark and our eyes cannot even see the animal well. Let’s say we found a badger burrow called a sett. We can follow the pathway in and out of the sett and place a camera where the badgers go underground.
Researcher's or hunter's check the time and go back at the proper time to have a chance to see or trap the animal. Here are some of the trail camera pictures we got. What are the advantages and disadvantages cameras for research?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

End of Trapping

The Cooks Lake small mammal research is completed for our team. Due to rain and the snow melt we were moved to the control site not the previously logged site
as I had said we were going before. The control site has never been logged since the research began. The site habitat is mostly conifer species(spruce the dominant one)the forest floor is covered with bright green moss on small mounds, fallen trees, and still water covered in many spots. The dominant species here are voles, chipmunk, lemmings and sometimes mice. We also put another grid of traps out in an open meadow for jumping mice to determine the earliest date/temperatures they come out of hibernation. This species is only one that does hibernate and not wake up during the winter or erratic spring temps. To describe them: a super long tail that is twice as long as its body, and super large back feet. This allows them to hop very far compared to thier body size. When a farmer is cutting a hay field the meadow jumping mice can be seen hopping in front of the tractor like miniature kangroos. Since we did not trap any I do not have any pictures they were still hibernating. Today was 41 and we had no animal sightings.
At Cooks Lake we caught 1 bog lemming, 2 red backd voles, and recaputured the same vole on the second day. So go back and use the Lincoln-Peterson Index to determine the population density. What can you conclude from your answer about this site in relation for the population?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Generalist & Specialist Answers

The generalists on the list were: deer, raccoon, coyote. These animals are found in many different habitats, reproduce very easily,often and at a very early age and more then once a year, or don't mind living near people, and can eat lots of different food.

The specialists are the panda, lynx, salamander, flying squirrel, and the pine marten. Why do you think these species are specialists? Give specific answers for each animal.
Here I am exploring a porcupine den which we collected quills from and marked the location with GPS so the researchers can continue to monitor the den's use. The weather today was 41 and we caught 2 vole, we had signs of 4 deer, 7 snow shoe hare, 2 red squirrels, 2 porcupine.

Some interesting things:

1. Mammals are the only group to have a diaphragm which separates the lungs from the guts. This allows mammals to either run after or away from a predator/prey without their guts moving up into their lungs choking them.
2. Shrews(which is pictured) are often NOT eaten by predators because of the ammonia in their bodies from the insects they eat makes them taste really bad.
3. Small rodents never drink water because they get enough from the seeds, insects, or dew on grasses they eat.
4. If you find a small rodent tooth in scat or owl pellet and it has many roots like a human tooth it’s a mouse and if it has one root it’s from a vole.
5. It is not snow melt or snowfall that causes a snowshoe hare or arctic foxes to change fur color but the length of light in the day called photoperiod.

6. If you catch a female in a trap there is a higher percentage that the next animal caught in the trap will be a male.
7. That European badgers look way different from Wisconsin badgers. Can you tell which is which? Weird looking foreign badger.
8. The Nova Scotia porcupines sometimes eat seaweed for the salt which helps to counteract with the high amount bark they eat.
.9. From a lecture on climate change I learned that cement mining/manufacturing is one of the biggest contributors to global climate change.
10. The shrew is the animal which bats evolved from.
11. The more variety of mosses, fungi, and lichens you find in an area means a cleaner air quality.
12. Birch trees can regrow their bark after a porcupine or beaver chew on it to prevent the pest from girdling the tree and killing it.