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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Research Paper Published by the Scientists

Interested in what REAL scientific writing looks like??

Check this out! It is a paper written by the Scientists here :)


Do you see why your lab journals are so important?

Day 4- East Point Medway Research Site

Weather: Sunny
Temperature: 40s F

Today was a very busy day! We woke up this morning and drove over to where Christina and Chris live.

Christina and Chris's House

It was an important morning for us because we needed to prepare the traps for the afternoon when we would place them in the field. The traps we use are called Longworth Traps and they are made in England. The Scientists have never trapped this early in the season. Due to the fact that they are made out of metal, it was necessary for us to make insulating "jackets." Since the small mammals (mice and voles) we are hoping to trap have very little body fat, we need to make sure they are able to stay warm overnight until we can release them in the morning. Remember this is human trapping (catch and release) ... not trapping for furs! We spent a few hours cutting styrofoam and covering the traps... we were able to cover 65 of them,but not all 100.

Alison cuts styrofoam for the traps
Once the traps were covered, we labeled them with a letter (A-D) and a number (1-25). These will be important later on when we are placing them in the field. Then they were loaded up for transport to the field site and we had a quick picnic lunch before heading off.
Traps ready to go!
When we reached the site of the trap placement, we had to hike a bit down a path with our boxes of traps, 2 bags of hay, birdseed and several other tools. It was time to stuff the traps and prepare them for any of the little visitors we might get. In order to prepare a trap properly you need to have a couple necessities: Nesting materials and FOOD! In each trap we put in a baseball sized amount of hay, a little birdseed and a small slice of apple. This will provide a warm place for the animal to stay over night as well as some food to keep up their calories in this cold weather. Once the traps were prepared, we set them and got ready to place them in the field. Wouldn't you find them cozy?

Trap "set" The view looking inside the trap

We went out in teams of two and three to set 4 lines of 25 traps. Each line was either A,B,C, or D. The traps were labeled 1-25. Each of the lines were about 30 meters apart and each trap was then set 5 meters apart. Most traps had the styrofoam jackets on them but the bare ones we had to be extra careful placing... we needed to find natural materials like leaves, pine needles and dirt to try and make them insulated.

When finding a good place to place the trap, we were instructed to "think like a mouse". Mice like to run along areas that are protected on a side, for example along sides of rocks or fallen trees. They also lake places that have a lot of covering in the form of tree branches or leaves. These are the types of places we looked for when we set our traps. This was difficult work because the terrain we were hiking over was pretty rough, lots of big boulders and what seemed like millions of trees. It was very difficult to navigate carrying huge boxes of traps.

The Terrain

Trap Placement

After setting the traps we were pretty exhausted. We headed into a nearby town called Liverpool to get some groceries and then went back to the accommodations for dinner. Tomorrow we will go out and check the traps in the morning. We will also check them in the afternoon. It is important that we check them twice a day so that the animals are not stressed too much and so that they can be free again to go home. We are hoping to find at least a few mammals. I asked Chris how many we should anticipate finding tomorrow and he said that usually the first night of the first trapping session yields only 5 or so. This is because they traps are now foreign in the environment and it might take a day or so for the mice and voles to be adventurous enough to go near them. We'll see! The traps will be out for 3 days so we will bring them in on Friday and analyze the data at that time. Alright this is all for now, talk to you soon :)

? What is the difference between mice and voles?? Do any of you know?

Answers to YOUR Questions (some of them!)

* Writing in Scientific Research (Mrs. Bishop)- The writing the scientists do here is mostly in the form of publishing their research. I am going to get a copy of one of the papers they have written and post it on here for you to see. It takes them many hours to write their research and to make it understandable to readers. Interestingly they said that many of the scientific journals have specific formats that the paper must be in, before it can be submitted. Today Chris also told us he spent many hours re-writing a paper that a former grad student had written for publishing... apparently the paper was returned by the journal with a comment that said " Parts of this paper were so badly written that it is simply incomprehensible." Hmmm sounds like proof-reading is essential!

*Ice Cream- Yes we have a lot of ice cream here but I think it will take a while for us to eat all of it!

*Speaking with other Expedition Members- On Friday you will have the chance to speak with some of the other teachers and scientists here with me. Yes David, the people I listed are the same people around the table when I gave you the tour. The only one missing was Chris- he works on papers in the morning and is with us later in the day

*What to do if I see a bear- So here there are Black Bear ... you should actually make a lot of noise and back away slowly... do not play dead... they are curious and hungry so they will come over and investigate you as a potential meal ;)

*Species?- There are many animals here that we have in the US but the species are a little different than the ones we have at home. I was really disappointed to find out that Moose are not likely to be seen here - there are only about 50 left in Nova Scotia due to a brain worm called Parelaphostrongylus tenius :(

Answers to Yesterday's Photo Questions

Photo Answers from Yesterday:

First of all Scientist of the Day goes to Danny for being the only one to attempt at identifying the photos!

Sample A- This bone was from a seal

Sample B- Scat from a Coyote- the flat piece is a bone (probably deer). Coyote droppings have lots of hairs and bone fragments typically.

Sample C- a Porcupine did this damage to a tree! They eat the bark from the top down which kills the tree in segments. They prefer birch trees because its soft and sweet.

Sample D- The smaller round one is from a Snowshoe Hare and the larger ones are porcupine.

Sample E- This is a close- up of the Porcupine damage on a tree. The Porcupines usually eat the bark, Beavers chop the tree down to use for homes.

East Port Medway - Research Site