Hi, I'm Mr. Coppelli. Follow me to Nova Scotia as I participate in research studying mammals!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Kejimkujik National Park

Hi Peoples!
So we went to the Kejimkujik National park today (The work "Kejimkujik" is a Mi'maq tribal name). It's about a 2 hour drive from our cottage by the ocean in the interior of Nova Scotia.

Our primary objective was to observe the old growth Hemlock forest. In nearly all of Nova Scotia the old growth forest was cut down by man (either the natives but mostly European settlers during the 18th and 19th century). The old growth Hemlock trees provide a different ecosystem than the "new" growth trees. For one, the old growth hemlock trees are taller, and have an expansive canopy system. This makes the forest floor dark, and hence smaller brush does not growth there. Most of the area as you walk around is open space except for the large trunks of these magnificent trees.
Check out the picture below. You'll see a wooden walkway on there that the park service has built. These trees have shallow and sensitive root systems so they don't want people tramping all over them.
Contrast this picture of these beautiful hemlocks with some "new" growth forest comprised of birch, spruce, pine and aspen.

Question: Why is there a higher density of plant growth in new growth forests compared to old growth forest? Think of your answer in terms of sunlight and canopy.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trapping Rodents

Hello Peoples!
Loving it here in Nova Scotia!
We are now mostly looking at catching small rodents in the field. We have set out some small mammal traps like the ones in the picture:

Mainly what we are trying to catch is mice, voles, lemmings, and chipmunks.

Question: Please describe the difference between mice, lemmings, voles and chipmunks.

Inside the traps we set some hay (for the rodent to make some bedding when they get trapped), and food (to lure the rodent in to the trap). I set out 20 traps in a linear fashion. Overall we set out 100 traps in a grid fashion and my line had 20. There were 4 other lines of 20 traps.

Our main objective is to see the rodent ecology of the area.

Question: Please define "ecology".

Once we find the rodent ecology of the area we can see how climate has affected it. But more on that later as I will talk more about climate change and mammal ecology in later posts.

Below you'll see a couple more pictures of the traps and how I've set them up.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Coastal Hike!

Today we went for a grueling (kidding) coastal hike. It was actually really beautiful and informative. The purpose of the hike was to (1) get familiar with the coastal morphology (morphology: the form or shape of something), and (2) see what animals are frequenting the coastline.
We mostly used indirect methods to find signs of animal presence. Indirect methods means that you are not actually seeing the animal in person, but finding secondary signs to tell if the animal was there. A few examples of indirect methods are finding scat (feces of an animal), tracks (the actual footprints of an animal on sand or mud), nests, food stores, and bones from when an animal dies.
On this route we found various scats from different animals. One in particular was coyote scat. This we were able to positively identify because it had hair remains and bone remains in it. Coyotes are carniverous animals so they would eat something like a hare (a rabbit), badger, skunk, or other small rodent. Coyotes generally eat the whole carcass but they cannot digest the hair and bones so those usually come out in the feces. You can see a picture of it below!

Question: why is finding scat important in order to identify what creatures have been in the area?

Monday, March 28, 2011

I'm Here!

Hi Kids!
So I arrived in Nova Scotia today totally jet lagged. I flew across the country, and I gained 4 hours of time. So right now it is 9:42 in Nova Scotia and it's 5:42 in California. Anyone know why it's 4 hours later in Nova Scotia as opposed to California? (hint: it has something to do with the Earth's rotation and sun exposure).
Well, now I am going to go to sleep (as I am very tired), but I am looking forward to getting up tomorrow, trapping mammals, and getting to see this beautiful country.
Here's a beautiful picture of the coastline here.
Take care kids!