Field exercises for student groups studying small mammal communities at BFREE

Mouse opossum photo by Dan Dourson

As part of BFREE’s initiative to enhance field experiences for student groups, members of the education committee have designed field exercises focused on small mammals at BFREE. In January 2015, two permanent small mammal trapping grids were established in two habitats at BFREE: cacao agroforestry and tropical broadleaf forest. These permanent grids will facilitate the study of small mammals by student groups and will allow a better understanding of the differences in biodiversity between cacao and unmanaged forest habitats. Because this project is focused on the comparison of agroecosystems to natural habitats, it will also serve as a good example to students of the importance of integrating human needs and concerns in the disciplines of ecology and conservation biology.

Dr. Sara Ash and Audrey Ash weigh one of the small mammals trapped in the forest grid.

We recognize that instructors have limited time to invest in these field exercises. As such, we have written exercises that require varying levels of engagement, thus allowing for flexibility for instructors (Table 1). While all exercises focus on small mammal species living on BFREE’s property, the Gold exercise requires trapping on both grids, and the data collected from this exercise, when compiled with other groups, will have potential management implications.

Click here for links to further instruction including video demos.

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