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Ecology Footprint Lab (Vermont) Essay

2455 words - 10 pages

Footprint Trap: A Measure of Abundance, Species Richness, and ANOVA Between Mammal Species in Townhouses and Woodland Areas at Saint Michael’s College

Dana DiPinto
Community Ecology


In this experiment we hypothesized that the woodland area would have a higher abundance and species richness than the townhouses at Saint Michael’s College due to effects of human interaction. Our ...view middle of the document...

As these assemblages of plants and animals repeat across the landscape wherever similar environmental conditions exist, it is possible to describe these repeating assemblages as natural community types (VFWD, 2003)”. In this experiment we will only be dealing with the mammals at our sites, so plants would not apply. The two areas that we chose to look at were the Townhouses on campus and the Woodland area directly across the street from Saint Michael’s College. These are good sites to test because they are both natural communities in which mammals interact and live. Also this will give us the ability to test the townhouse area on campus where there is a large human interaction, and the woodland area where there is very minimal human interaction.
“There are many cases when ecologists rely upon direct observation of live individuals in the wild, live-trapped individuals, or preserved specimens (McCabe, 2012)”. The term “collect” generally refers to trapping, killing, or preserving individual specimen. In this experiment we will do none of the following. Instead we will be using baited track stations that will allow the mammal to step into a trap collect its footprint and exit safely, unharmed in any way. This is not the first time that the footprint method has been conducted in an experiment; however in most of the other studies they did trap their specimen for direct live observation.
An experiment that was done in Buenos Aires in 2003, showed all of the possible ways in which you can observe mammals and their interaction with natural communities. The experiment showed techniques in which you could test and monitor for abundance in urban environments of Buenos Aires. The abundance was tested by counting burrow entrances, active individuals, kill capture with glue traps, live capture with cage traps, and by comparing bait consumption in bait stations (Cavia, 2003). This experiment is significant because is shows all of the different ways in which you can observe mammals and their interaction within natural communities. To avoid ethical concern and criticism our study only deals with baited track stations, that leave the mammals unharmed only capturing their footprints for data analysis.
Another experiment that supports abundance and species richness differentiations using footprint traps would be one titled, “"Mammals of medium and large size in a fragmented cerrado landscape in northeastern Minas Gerais state, Brazil (Lessa, 2012)”. Although this study takes place in Brazil it still serves as a significance because it shows positive differentiation between abundance and species richness using footprint traps. Leonardo Lessa used the methods of footprint traps, and looking for mammal signs in his experiment (Lessa, 2012). Direct observation was shown through footprints or feces (Lessa, 2012). This experiment would be considered significant and provides evidence supporting effects of mammal diversity by showing different...

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