Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Last Post!

Hello Boys and Girls!

Today was our last day in the field, and in fact, we were only out in the field for half a day because they wanted to give us some time to Skype with our classrooms. We went out this morning to check our traps for the final time and to collect them and clean them out for the next Earthwatch group to use them. Caroline and I didn't catch anything today except for a lot of slugs and a few earthworms! However, other groups caught 5 red-backed voles. We were expecting to catch more mammals here but because the weather was so poor, that didn't happen.

This will be my last posting to you as my journey is coming to an end and I will be home on Saturday. I hope you all learned a lot from my experience through this blog and via Skype. I learned so much by being here and can't wait to share more of my learning with you when I return. This has truly been a once in a lifetime experience and I am so glad that I got to share it with you.

One thing that I have learned and really want to you to remember is that it is our responsibility to take care of our earth. By studying small mammals over the past two weeks, I have been able to see how much these mammals are effected by the actions of people. Each person can make a difference whether it's turning off a light when you leave a room, using reusable bags when you go to the grocery store, picking up litter off the ground, or recycling at home. All of those small things truly add up and it is your job to do these things for our earth and encourage others to do the same. Just think about every time we turn the lights out when we walk out of our classroom or throw recyclable items in to the recycle bin. By doing that, we are doing one small thing to help our earth.

I have also learned that in order to do good things for our earth, we have to manage and conserve our resources. I got a lot of comments from people on Wednesday commenting that we were cutting down trees on Earth Day and how that seemed like the opposite of what we should be doing. However, in order to be responsible with our resources, we need to maintain them. We were cutting down trees in order to make a trail through the forest that others could enjoy. Our scientists want others to use this land and enjoy its wildlife, however, no one would want to do that if there weren't trails to follow.

Finally, I have learned that climate change not only effects small mammals, but it also effects humans as well. Although you may believe that having a warmer climate would be enjoyable to live in, the truth is that it greatly effects the way that animal populations survive and greatly effects their way of life and their survival. What are some small things that you could do at home or at school that would help our earth?

I also want to extend many thanks to Wells Fargo for their support of Earthwatch and their missions. Without their generous financial contribution, my trip would not have been possible and I wouldn't have been able to bring all of my great learning back to you. I also want to thank Dr. Newman and Dr. Bueshing for running this Earthwatch Expedition. They are so kind and so very knowledgeable about the ways that climate change is effecting mammal species and they are doing some great work and great research that benefits mammals all over the world.

Finally, you all have been asking me to post pictures of where I have been staying. I have included some of them for your enjoyment. The first picture is of the green house. The green house is where the women live. The second picture is of the yellow house where they guys live. I then have a picture of the kitchen, living room, and dining room of the green house. The last picture is of my bedroom that I share with Miss Beeman.

I can't wait to see all of you on Monday!!! Have a great weekend and I will see you all very soon! Also, Mrs. Hamilton, thank you so much for being with my class over the last two weeks. I haven't had to worry about a thing while you have been there and I know my kids were in great hands! Thank you for taking the time to share my blog with them everyday, even though you had a hundred other things to do each day!

Love,
Mrs. Quam :)

Chipmunks: 3
Red-Backed Voles: 16
Deer Mice: 3
Garter Snakes: 4
Mystery Snake: 1
Porcupine: 2
Muskrat: 1
Beaver: 2
Deer: 7
Toad: 1
Bald Eagle: 1
Grouse: 1
Red Squirrel: 2
Partridge: 1
Osprey: 2
Turkey: 1
Guinea Fowl: 7
Mallard Duck: 1
Slugs and Earthworms: Too many to count!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Another Soggy Day!

Hello Boys and Girls!

Today was another very wet and miserable day in Nova Scotia. It rained on us all day long and I was soaking wet by the end of the day. The good news is that Caroline and I caught a chipmunk in one of our traps today. It was so wet that we didn't catch much today.

We were disappointed today because our article was not published in the newspaper today. We are hoping that it makes the paper tomorrow and I will keep you posted.

We went back out to Cook's Lake today and in the morning we checked our traps and then did field sign transects. A field sign transect is when you follow trails through the forest and mark down all of the field signs you see like nests, tracks, droppings, porcupine damage, etc. Because it was so wet, we didn't see much today. After lunch, we built a new trail that actually leads from the main entrance down to Cook's Lake. I looked at all of your name suggestions and I was very impressed. I will keep you posted on the name we choose.

As for the skulls, some of your guesses were correct, others were way off! :) The first skull is a picture of a cow. The second skull is from a deer, and the last skull is from a porcupine. You are also correct that an animal that eats only meat is a carnivore.

I don't have much to add today because the weather was so poor so I have included two maps of Nova Scotia to show you all of the places that I have been since being here. I am also looking forward to Skyping with you for the last time this afternoon.

http://www.earthwatch2.org/lff/beeman/uploaded_images/map-753670.jpg


Places that I have visited include:

Halifax
Lunenburg
Liverpool
Bridgewater
Cherry Hill (Between Liverpool and Bridgewater)
Kejimkujik National Park (The map below shows where this is in Nova Scotia)

http://www.earthwatch2.org/lff/beeman/uploaded_images/keji-726038.jpg

I hope this helps you in understanding where I am in the world. :) I'm giving you a break from questions today since we are Skyping this afternoon but I would like for you to have some good questions ready if possible. Also, you will be meeting my trapping partner, Caroline tomorrow so be thinking of some questions to ask her as well.

Tomorrow (Friday) will be my last blog entry and I will post photos of the house I am staying in. Sometime next week I will try and have a slide show ready for you where I can show you some more pictures and video that I took that I was unable to post on my blog. Can't wait to see you on Skype!

Miss you lots!
Love,
Mrs. Quam :)

Chipmunks: 3
Red-Backed Voles: 11
Deer Mice: 3
Garter Snakes: 4
Mystery Snake: 1
Porcupine: 2
Muskrat: 1
Beaver: 2
Deer: 7
Toad: 1
Bald Eagle: 1
Grouse: 1
Red Squirrel: 2
Partridge: 1
Osprey: 2
Turkey: 1
Guinea Fowl: 4
Mallard Duck: 1

Labels:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Soggy Day!


Hello Boys and Girls!

Today we were back out at Cook's Lake. The first thing we did this morning was to open the doors of our grassland traps so we could catch some small mammals and then we checked our woodland traps for mammals. Today was a very cold and rainy day in Nova Scotia. Because of this, we only caught two voles in our traps today! Luckily, Caroline and I caught one in our trap. We were very excited that we caught this vole because the reporter from the Nova Scotian newspaper was there when we caught it. She took a picture of me holding our vole and also of us releasing the vole in our maze. It took our vole 50 seconds to get out of the maze. It didn't really want to go out because it didn't want to get wet! The reporter also interviewed me and took my name so I am hoping to be in the paper. The article is supposed to be printed in Wednesday's paper so on our way home from the field, we plan to stop in town and pick up copies of the newspaper to bring home.

After releasing our voles, my group went and did 20 deer transects, 10 in the woodlands and 10 in the grasslands. Deer transects are when we set up a 10 meter by 10 meter square. We then walk the square looking for deer droppings. We count the droppings in order to estimate the number of deer in a particular area. Today we found a ton of droppings in the grassland but very few droppings in the woodlands.

Because it was so cold and wet today, we only saw two voles all day, however, while doing transects we discovered three different animal skulls in the woodlands. I have posted a picture of each of the skulls and I would like to you guess what kind of animal the skull belongs to.

After completing the transects we ate lunch and then began cutting a trail through the woodlands. Our scientists want these trails in place so that it is easier for them to get through the forest and easier for the Earthwatch volunteers to set traps. We cut down several trees today and got very dirty. It was very hard work and we were exhausted when we got home. Because we were able to complete a whole trail today, our scientists want us to name the trail. We are kind of stuck and were hoping you could brainstorm some ideas about what we could name our trail. Please post any of your suggestions in the comments section. Each of us are asking our students for suggestions. There will be a prize for the person we choose to name the trail. Put your thinking caps on and be creative! :)

As for my questions yesterday, biodiversity means the different species of plants and animals that can coexist in a habitat. The more biodiverse an area is, the more plant and animal species it will contain and the healthier it is.

A herbivore is an animal that only eats plants while an omnivore is an animal that eats both plants and animals. What is an animal called that only eats meat?

Finally, I have included a couple of other animal pictures for your enjoyment. The first picture is of a turkey that we saw in the road. We actually had to stop our van in order for it to cross the road! Do you think this turkey is a male or a female? How can you tell?

I have also included a picture of a mallard duck. The mallard is one of the most beautiful ducks I have ever seen because of the brillant green coloring on its head. I hope you enjoy both of these pictures.

I hope you are having a great time with Mrs. Hamilton! Remember to continue to share my blog with your parents! Happy Earth Day! Please take the time today to do something good for the earth! Tomorrow (Thursday) I will be asking you to share with me in the comment section some examples of things you did either at home or at school for our earth to celebrate Earth Day.

Miss you lots!
Love,
Mrs. Quam :)

Chipmunks: 2
Red-Backed Voles: 9
Deer Mice: 3
Garter Snakes: 4
Mystery Snake: 1
Porcupine: 2
Muskrat: 1
Beaver: 2
Deer: 7
Toad: 1
Bald Eagle: 1
Grouse: 1
Red Squirrel: 2
Partridge: 1
Osprey: 2
Turkey: 1
Guinea Fowl: 4
Mallard Duck: 1

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cook's Lake

Hello Boys and Girls!

Today we went to our new research site that we are going to be at this week and it's called, Cook's Lake. Cook's Lake and the land around it actually belongs to the scientists in charge of our expedition. They have owned it for about 22 years now and are doing a lot of different things in order to preserve the land and conserve the wildlife that is present in this area.

We started off this morning by taking a hike around the grounds so we could get a feel for the land and the wild life that inhabits this area. There is a small pond on land that was made by the government in order to prevent forest fires from spreading. There is also a larger lake near the back of the property that is actually called, Cook's Lake. We didn't get down there today but we will later on in the week. The land is made up both deep forest as well as grasslands. Because of the biodiversity of this area, this land makes the perfect habitat for all sorts of animals. Several reptiles and amphibians like salamanders, snakes, and frogs can be found on the land because it is so wet. We also saw a beautiful mallard duck today that I will post tomorrow. What do you think the word, "biodiversity" means? Why is biodiversity important for wildlife?

After our hike, we refilled our traps with grass and seeds and set them back out in order to catch more small mammals. We put 50 traps in the forest and 50 traps on the grasslands. Why do you think we did this? We left the doors on the forest traps open hoping to catch some mammals but we closed the doors on the traps in the grasslands because here, there are mammals called short tailed shrews that live in the grasslands, however, they can't survive in our traps for very long because they would get too cold. So, instead of leaving our grassland traps open at night, we open the doors in the morning when we get there, and then we check our traps at lunch and right before we leave each night so we don't kill one of the shrews. We also might be able to catch something called a jumping mouse and a meadow vole. I'm hoping I have new pictures of some of these animals later in the week if we are lucky and catch some of them. While we were setting our traps today, we also saw two garter snakes, so we have seen lots of snakes so far on our expedition.

Tomorrow we will have a very busy day because a journalist from a local newspaper here in Nova Scotia is coming out to interview us and learn about the research we have been doing. She is then going to be writing a column for the paper so I'll be sure to bring a copy of the newspaper back with me so you can see it. Also, if it is online, I will send the link so you can check it out.

Now, on to the questions that I asked you yesterday. The first picture is of a beaver and the second picture is of the muskrat. You can tell that it is a beaver because when it is swimming, you can't see it's tail. Beavers swim with their legs and arms while muskrats swim with their tails. Other characteristics of beavers are that they can be up to 30 pounds, build dams and live in lodges, and are herbivores. What are herbivores? Muskrats usually weigh about 3 pounds, they normally live on the shore and burrow into the side of the lake or river, and muskrats are omnivores. What are omnivores?

As for the trap that had a closed door, but we didn't find anything in it, that could have happened for a couple of reasons. The first possibility is that it was a shrew that escaped. In each trap there is a small hole called a shrew hole. This is because we don't want to catch small shrews because they can freeze to death in our traps so there is a hole in the back of the traps so the shrews can escape from the traps, but nothing else can. A shrew might have gotten into our trap which made the door close, but then he escaped out the back of the trap. Another possibility is that a snake may have slithered through our trap and made the door close and then it too, could have escaped out of the shrew hole.

Finally, a hemlock forest is a very old forest, usually 300-400 years old that contains mostly hemlock trees. Hemlock trees grow in very acidic soil and can grow to be very large. I have posted a picture of my friends, Mr. Wolf and Mr. Wignall hugging one of the hemlocks. They could barely touch hands around the tree. Hemlock forests have very little undergrowth because they are so tall, they let very little light down to the forest floor. The forest floor is usually covered in different types of mosses and makes a good habitat for reptiles and larger mammals. Hemlock trees are also so old, you can see most of their roots because the soil around them has been eroded from weather. I have also posted a picture of a hemlock tree growing on top of a rock. When it first started growing, there was soil underneath it, but as it grew older, the soil was eroded away and started growing on the rock that was below it.

Finally, I have included a picture that I took on Sunday from Kejimkujik National Park. It is of a deer we saw walking next to the road as we were on our way to our hike. Several of you have been asking for a picture of a deer so here you finally have it! :)

We still do not have any new information about the snake that we found. We are very curious and hope we get an answer soon. You also asked me about an oprey and a grouse. Go to this web address to find a definition and a picture of an osprey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osprey

As for the grouse, visit this web address for a picture and more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grouse

I hope you guys are learning a lot! Please keep posting questions if you have them and comments. I miss you all very much! I can't wait to get back!

Love,
Mrs. Quam :)

Chipmunks: 2
Red-Backed Voles: 7
Deer Mice: 3
Garter Snakes: 4
Mystery Snake: 1
Porcupine: 2
Muskrat: 1
Beaver: 2
Deer: 7
Toad: 1
Bald Eagle: 1
Grouse: 1
Red Squirrel: 2
Partridge: 1
Osprey: 2
Turkey: 1
Guinea Fowl: 4
Mallard Duck: 1

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The End to a Busy Week!


On Thursday night we went beaver watching at a pond near where we are staying. While we were there, we saw two types of animals, a beaver and a muskrat. Can you tell which picture is a beaver and which picture is a muskrat? What is the difference between a beaver and a muskrat? The third picture is of a beaver splashing in the water. He was splashing at us because he saw us and he was telling us that he had seen us and wanted us to leave. The last picture shows a beaver lodge. This is a very active lodge. According to our scientists, beavers mate for life and usually two to four beavers live in a lodge at one time, the mom, dad, and their babies.
On Friday morning, we went back to the field and checked our trap for the very last time at the East Port research site. Caroline and I had two traps that had closed doors but when we brought them back to check them, we only had one trap with something in it. We had trapped another red-backed vole. However, our other trap had nothing in it. Why do you think the door on the trap was closed but we didn't find anything in it?

I also have an update on the huge snake we found last Thursday. We sent pictures off to several scientists and university professors who specialized in snakes, and it is not a rat snake like we first thought. Some of the experts emailed us back and they thought it was a species of garter snake that was unusually large. We still don't know for sure but I will keep you posted as we get more information about it. I also was able to add the picture on Friday's post that I was unable to load then of the snake so you need to take a look at my last post and check out the new picture that I posted of that snake.

Saturday was our only research-free day and we spent all day in Halifax, which is the capital of Nova Scotia. Please find this on a map if you haven't already. We went to several different places in the city and ate some really good food. A lot of the people that are with me like seafood so they were able to eat really good seafood since we are very close to the ocean. In fact, we ate dinner at a restaurant that overlooked the ocean. I also bought something to bring back to our classroom that represents Nova Scotia and I will share that with you when I return.

Finally today, we visited Nova Scotia's National Park called Kejimkujik National Park. We went on a 7 mile hike through the park and saw two deer while we were there. I got a great picture for you and I will share it with you on my post tomorrow. We were very tired when we returned. We hiked through a hemlock forest. What do you think a hemlock forest is? We also saw another porcupine and tried to get a few good pictures we had some camera issues and couldn't get one taken. Hopefully we see another one this week that I can share with you. I have updated my "Animals Seen" list at the bottom of the page. I have added a turkey, guinea foul, grouse, an osprey, and a partridge. If you do not know what these animals are, look them up if you get a chance. We are going out to a new research site tomorrow (Monday) and will be setting new traps so hopefully I'll have some new animals to share with you on Tuesday, if Caroline and I are lucky enough to catch anything in our traps. Hope you all had a great weekend! If you have any questions, please let me know. I hope to Skype with you again on Thursday afternoon!

Love,
Mrs. Quam :)

Chipmunks: 2
Voles: 7
Mice: 3
Garter Snakes: 2
Mystery Snake: 1
Porcupine: 2
Muskrat: 1
Beaver: 2
Deer: 7
Toad: 1
Bald Eagle: 1
Grouse: 1
Red Squirrel: 2
Partridge: 1
Osprey: 2
Turkey: 1
Guinea Fowl: 4

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Another busy day!



Today was yet another exciting day! I was so happy to see all of you today! I miss you all very much and I was very happy to read your comments! I told you all about most of it when I was skyping with you this morning but I have some very exciting pictures to share. Before I post my pictures though, I wanted explain a few things to you. The first question I asked you was about clipping the mammals fur when we capture one in our trap. We cut a small part of the mammals hair because it takes off a small bit of the animals lighter top fur and shows us a strip of its darker underfur. We want to see the darker underfur because if we trap the same mammal again, we can automatically tell if we have already captured it by looking for the clip mark.

I also asked you about why we collect hare droppings. We collect the droppings because by counting the number of pellets we find in an area, we can estimate the population of hares (rabbits) living in the area. This is important because knowing the population of a species and keeping track of the numbers of rabbits can help us see how climate change is effecting the hare population, either good or bad. I will explain more about this when we Skype again.

Finally I asked you about adaptation. Animals make adaptations over several decades or centuries in order to better live in their environment. An example of an adaptation is the snowshoe hare. In the spring, summer and fall, the hare is brown so that it blends in with its environment. In the winter, its fur turns white so that it can blend into the snow. It is important that animals make adaptations because if they didn't, not all species would survive.

This afternoon after I talked with you, we went back out to our research site and checked our traps. Caroline and I didn't catch anything this afternoon. Team A has caught 2 mammals, Team B has caught 0 mammals (we feel really bad for them), Team C has caught 3, Caroline and I (Team D) have caught 3, and Team E has caught 4 mammals. Tomorrow morning will be the last time that we check the traps at this research site and then next week, we will set them out in a new site.

We also went beaver watching tonight. We were able to see two beaver and one muskrat. I have a great picture of a muskrat and will post it over the weekend. On our way home from beaver watching we saw a porcupine in the front yard of someones house but it waddled away before any of us get a picture of it. It was a lot bigger than I thought. We hope to see another one this weekend. We also saw three white-tailed deer in a field, but again, they ran away before we could get pictures. Some of you have asked me to post a picture of a deer, but I don't have any yet. If I get some, I will definitely put them up.

I do not have time tonight to answer all of the comments you posted today but I will try and take a look at them and answer them over the weekend. A lot of you asked me where I was staying and what it looked like. I will take some pictures this weekend of the house I am staying at so you can see it.

Now, time for your homework! :) This weekend we are going on a hike through Kejimkujik National Park. I would like you to predict what animals I might see while I am there. Also, if you have time, I would like you to look online or at a map of Nova Scotia and find the following places: Kejimkujik National Park, Bridgewater, Liverpool, Halifax, Cooks Lake and Cherry Hill. I will be spending time in all of these places while I am here and I would like for you to know where those places are located. I will also be showing you these places when I return.

Finally I will post some pictures that I took today. The first picture is of the garter snake that I found. The other two pictures are of the big snake we found today. (I actually only posted one because the other one wouldn't upload. I'll try and add it tomorrow. Our scientists think that it is a rat snake but aren't for sure. My friend, Mr. Wignall is holding the snake...I didn't even touch it! :) Can't wait to see you all when we skype today!

By the way, I have included a count of all of the animals that I have seen so far. I'll try and remember to update it each day.

Chipmunks: 2
Voles: 7
Mice: 3
Garter Snakes: 1
Rat Snake: 1
Porcupine: 1
Muskrat: 1
Beaver: 2
Deer: 4
Toad: 1
Bald Eagle: 1
Grouse: 1
Red Squirrel: 1

Love,
Mrs. Quam :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jackpot!


I am posting two posts tonight because I answered your questions in one and will be sharing about my day and asking you some more questions in this post. If you did not read the previous post first, please do so and then come back to this one.

Today we hit the jackpot! We got to see all sorts of mammals today! The first thing that we did this morning was to travel out to our research site to check our traps that we set yesterday. We were very anxious and hoping to find something. We will check our traps six times, two times a day for three days. Our researchers didn't expect us to catch more than ten animals in this three day period, however, we captured 8 today. This morning Caroline and I caught a deer mouse and a red backed vole. Another group caught another mouse and a third group caught another vole. This afternoon, Caroline and I didn't catch anything but one group caught a mouse and a vole and another group caught a chipmunk! We were very surprised to find a chipmunk in our trap because they are so much bigger than mice and voles. I have posted a picture of the chipmunk. It shows our researcher, Christina, holding it. She is holding it like this because if she didn't, it would try and bite her. One group hasn't caught anything yet so we are hoping they get something tomorrow!

After we took our mammals out of their traps, we had to do some research. We weighed the animal first. I have attached a picture of Christina doing this. She would then take a pair of scissors and cut off a small patch of fur on the back right hind quarter. Why do you think Christina would cut of some of its fur? We also checked to see if the animal was male or female and if it was female, we would look to see if it was pregnant. All but one of the females we caught today was pregnant. It is the very beginning of mating season so most of them have only been pregnant for about a week at the most. After we took all of our measurements, we recorded them and then it was time to release our mammal. When we released it, we put it in the maze boxes and timed how long it took to get out of our maze. I posted another close-up picture of our maze box. We did this because the rodents we are trapping right now were ones that survived the winter. We are putting them through the mazes because we want to see if they can problem solve and get out of the maze since they are older and have had more life experience because they were smart enough to survive the winter. Later on in the summer after the babies have been born, they are going to continue to trap the mammals and put them through the mazes. They are expecting that these younger mice that they catch in the summer will take longer to get out of the maze because they haven't lived as long and are not as smart as the older mice. When we put our vole into our maze, it took it 9 minutes to get out! It just stayed in our maze and hid in a corner because it liked it in our box. The mouse we captured this morning escaped our maze in 11 seconds!

After checking our traps, we went around collecting rabbit poo and collecting it in bags. Why do you think we did this? What do you think we can learn from collecting animal droppings?

In the afternoon we were split into three different groups and took hikes down different nature trails. We were looking for field signs of different animals. Field signs are clues that animals leave in nature to show us that they live in an area. For example, my group found coyote droppings, fox droppings, hare droppings, a beaver dam, porcupine tree damage. We also saw a red squirrel, bald eagle, a pheasant, and a toad out in the wild while were on our hike. One group even saw a beaver! These signs all show us that there are several different types of animals living in this area.

Tomorrow I'm going to talk to you about adaptation. Before I do this, I want you to discuss what you think the word, adaptation means. Why is it important for animals to adapt? Can you give me any examples of animals that have made adaptations to their environment? I am very interested in your answers to this last question. I will give you some examples tomorrow of this.

I hope you are having a great time and learning a lot because I am learning so much that I can't wait to share with you. I hope you are enjoying the weather in Iowa also because I hear it has been beautiful! Can't wait to hear from you!
Love,
Mrs. Quam :)

Answers to your questions!


Hello boys and girls! You did a very good job of answering my questions so I will attempt in this post to give you more information and answer your questions. When I told you that I was trying to catch a vole, I was hoping you would ask me what it is. A vole is a rodent that looks very similar to a mouse except that a vole has a shorter tail, no whiskers, and very small ears compared to a mouse. I have posted a picture of a vole below for you to look at. This is a vole that was caught in one of our traps this morning. Our scientist, Christina is holding this vole right now. My partner, Caroline and I actually caught this vole in one of our traps. We caught the first mammal of the expedition and we were very proud of that. In fact, we caught two animals in our traps this morning, this red backed vole and a deer mouse. Below is a picture of me holding the vole that we trapped this morning! I was kind of scared at first but voles are very mild mannered and didn't mind being handled too much. Caroline was in charge of taking the mouse out of our trap. I'm very glad that I didn't have to do that job! The mouse was running all over the plastic bag and did not want to be caught. Please remember that we did not hurt these animals in any way and that we don't hurt them when we hold them by the scruff of their necks.

You also answered my question about the maze boxes. I will explain the maze boxes in more detail in my next post when I explain to you what we did today.

My next question asked why we trap animals and why did we need so many traps. We trap these small mammals for a variety of reasons. For this expedition, the main reason we are trapping is to learn about what effect climate change is having on the animal population. We study these small mammals like mice and voles because they are at the very bottom of the food chain, meaning that a lot of animals like to eat them. There is also usually a large number of these animals because they breed all summer and can have lots of babies. By trapping and finding out about how many mice occupy an area at a time, we can begin to see patterns year after year. If one summer we trap 100 mice, but the next summer we trap 20, we can see the pattern and can look for reasons about why this is happening. The scientists we are working with believe this is due to climate change. We use so many traps so that we can try and get the most accurate count of the population that we can.

Finally, you asked me about the time zone here and the weather. I am two hours ahead of Iowa. For example, in Iowa, right now it is 9:15pm. In Nova Scotia right now, it is 11:15pm and I should be getting to bed soon! :) As for the weather, today was the best day we have had so far. It was absolutely gorgeous all day today and sunny. It was about 50 degrees and I even got a little sunburned today!

Please check my other post from tonight to learn about what we did today and to look at some more pictures from our expedition. I have inserted a picture of my friend Caroline (who is from England and is very interesting to talk to) holding the mouse that we caught in our trap today.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Small Mammal Trapping


Hello Everyone! I was so happy to come back from the field today and find comments on my blog! I was very pleased with the answers to my questions...you are very close! In Nova Scotia I have the possibility of seeing many animals however, I am most likely to see deer, mice, vole, chipmunks, porcupines, raccoon, beaver, hare, and otter. If I am lucky, it is also possible for me to see a moose and a black bear, but seeing those are unlikely. As of right now, I have seen no mammals! It has been very disappointing but hopefully our luck changes soon!

As for the droppings, Makayla is correct, the droppings show what kind of animals are in the area. However, we want to look for droppings and count the number of droppings that we see to help us predict the population of each species of animal. By looking at droppings, we can determine what effect climate change is having on the different populations of animals. I will talk more about this tomorrow because we will be doing some dropping counts and I will share with you what I learn.

The track you identified is correct...it is a fresh deer track that we found in the mud along the coast.

Today we set up our small mammal traps. We put together 100 traps and set them all over in the forest. We now have to check them twice everyday to see if we have trapped any small mammals like mice and voles. Why do you think it is important for us to trap these small mammals? Why do you think we set up so many? The first couple of pictures show me preparing a trap. First we put hay and pine needles into the trap to keep the animal warm and then we fill it with food (bird seed) and then put the trap together and set it in the forest.

We also made maze boxes for the creatures that we trap in our traps. In one of the pictures you can see me sawing wood and hammering my box together. It actually turned out well if I do say so myself! :) When we catch an animal in our trap, we are going to put them into the maze and time how long it takes for them to get through it. Why do you think that we do this? Why would the information we learn about this be important? I will give you a hint, think about adaptation. Perhaps Mrs. Hamilton can explain this a little bit but I will be discussing adaptation in more detail tomorrow.

I miss you all very much! I hope you are on your best behavior for Mrs. Hamilton. Don't forget to show your parents my blog when you are at home. :) Also, let me know if you have any questions or comments because I love hearing from you!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Coastal HIke


Hello boys and girls!

I hope that you all have been keeping up with my blog over the weekend. I know that some of you have because I have had some of you leave me some comments. Today (Monday) was actually the first day of our expedition. The scientists taught us this morning about some of the different animals we would be seeing while we were here. They showed us pictures of the animals and told us some facts about each one. What animals do you think I might see while I am here? I would like you to post some comments with some different ideas about what kinds of mammals I might see.

This afternoon the scientists took us on a three hour nature hike along the southern coast of Nova Scotia. We walked about 5 or 6 miles today right along the ocean. Today was the first time that I have ever seen the Atlantic Ocean. The weather was crazy! First it was sleeting, then snowing, and then the sun was shining! The weather changed on us every ten minutes. It was unlike any place I have ever been. On our hike, we went looking for animal droppings and animal tracks. What are animal droppings? Why do you think the scientists wanted us to look for droppings and tracks? I would like you to post some comments and answer these questions.

I have also posted some pictures that I want you to take a look at. The first picture is of the scientists dog, Lycos. The other pictures are for you to look at and make posts to answer this question: What mammal do you think made this track in the mud? What mammal did damage to the bark on this tree?

From now on when I post questions in my blog, I would like for you to post a few comments and try to answer my questions. I'll try and respond to them everyday. Matthew, I have not seen any mammals yet, however, I hope to tomorrow (Tuesday) because we will be going to our actual research site at Cook's Lake. Hopefully I will have some pictures of some of the mammals I see tomorrow!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

I made it!

Greetings from Nova Scotia! I have finally arrived and I am doing well. I made it in to Nova Scotia at 3:20pm on Saturday, April 11. Do you know what time that is in Iowa? (HINT: Nova Scotia is two hours ahead of Iowa.) I was very happy that my luggage also arrived with me considering I had to make stops in both Chicago and Toronto.

I have met several new people on my trip. You can read all about them on our team's "Landing Page." Everyone is very nice and we have had a lot of fun so far. The researchers have a dog that will be out in the field with us. His name is Lycos and he is part Husky, part German Shepard. He makes me miss Chloe a lot! :) People in Canda speak both English and French and I have heard a lot of people speaking in French, which has been very different. You can also use American money here in Nova Scotia and they give you back change in Canadian money! I will bring some back to show you.

Tomorrow (Monday) we officially start our expedition and we are taking a two hour hike tomorrow afternoon on the coast of Nova Scotia. We are staying in a cottage in a place called Cherry Hill and we will be doing research in two different places, Cooks Lake and Kejimkujik (Kedgee ma coo jick) National Park. I'll teach you how to pronounce this word when I return. If you have a chance, try and find these places on a map. Hopefully I have some pictures to post after our hike tomorrow. I hope you all had a great Easter weekend and enjoy your Monday off. I am looking forward skyping with you this week, probably on Friday. I also can't wait to read some of your comments and questions that you post on my blog. Also, be thinking of questions for me to ask the researchers!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Student Practice

Good Afternoon 2nd Grade!
I am getting very excited to leave for my trip on Saturday but I have been very busy this week getting prepared to go! So far, I have spent this week getting my technology together and packing my bags. Based upon what we have discussed in class about Canada, what items do you think I will be taking on my trip? Why do you think I will need these items?

Also, as you know, I will be studying mammals in Nova Scotia. We studied mammals at the beginning of the year so it's time to review. What is a mammal? What are some examples of mammals that can be found in Iowa? What kinds of mammals do you think I will be studying in Canada? Do you think I will see the same species of mammals in Nova Scotia that I see in Iowa?

Your job is to answer the questions that I post in your writing journals. You will also be discussing your journal writing as a class with Mrs. Hamilton. After you have discussed the questions as a class with Mrs. Hamilton, she will choose a couple of you each day to make comments and post your answers my questions on my blog. I also would like for you to post questions for me to answer as well if you think of some while you are writing and discussing.

DON'T FORGET TO WRITE YOUR NAME AT THE END OF A COMMENT SO I KNOW WHO IS WRITING TO ME! :)

As my departure time draws closer, it is now YOUR turn to practice reading my blog and posting comments each day to answer the questions that I ask you. We will be spending our computer lab time today practicing how to access my blog, answer the questions, and post your answers in my blog. I look forward to reading your comments and hope you enjoy this interactive online learning experience! :)