Seven Vole Day
Super busy day. Yes, small mammals are important as they are a major food source for many of the larger prey.
Spent the morning checking our traps. We had three Red-backed Voles this morning! 2 males and a female. Once we get an animal in a trap we have to take it out, weigh it, check the sex, adult or juvenile, sexually active, species, if it had been captured before and where we caught it. Once this is all recorded, we had to take the animal back to where we found it.
After finishing the traps, we conducted a porcupine damage survey of the area around the scientist's house. Porcupines are considered a pest species in Nova Scotia as they destroy much of the forest area. People in Nova Scotia frequently kill the animals or they often get run over by cars and could become endangered in the near future. Dr. Buesching and Dr. Newman are trying to come up with a solution or how people can live with the porcupines without killing them. They need to determine what type of trees they eat most, where they are and how much they eat.
Next with did a field sign transect where we walked a mile trail and looked for signs of animals. We saw quite a few signs of beavers - lots of trees gnawed and 2 beaver lodges, lots of coyote scat - these had small animal bones and animal fur in them, hare scat, squirrel nests, and porcupine scat. I've included a picture of one of the trees the beaver has gnawed on.
Finally we rechecked our traps and had 4 more voles. 2 were ones that we had captured this morning and 2 new ones. So 7 for the day.
Challenge for the day: What is the difference between a mouse and a vole and why are they both important in the ecosystem (hint: what do they both eat)? Extra credit: What percent of the Voles were recaptured and what percent were new captures?