Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Intern Update Weeks 7 and 8

Hi Everyone!
We have just completed out 8th week up at Hi Mountain and have several updates
to share.

In these past two weeks, both groups have been spending their time in a mixture
of oak woodland and chaparral plots. The chaparral plots are proving to be
extremely different from one another...depending on location a plot may be
extremely diverse (even harbor a few Dipodomys spp.) or extremely bland as far
as small mammal species go. This week our group trapped in chaparral plot #8,
which should be named "woodrat heaven". Although this plot had an extremely low
trap success, more than 50% of the animals we did catch were Neotoma macrotis
(dusky-footed woodrat). It was fun to practice holding those little fluff balls
that sound amazingly like doggie chew-toys when they are picked up. FUN FACT
(from Grace Mannell): It is rumored that Walt Disney modeled Mickey Mouse after
a woodrat he found in his back yard!

Last week we trapped in two special locations: 1) the long-awaited burned plot
and 2) a very interesting oak woodland plot that seems to have transitioned more
into chaparral in recent years. Both plots were incredibly different than
anything we have trapped in before. The burned plot harbored a great variety of
species (Peromyscus maniculatus, Peromyscus truei, Peromyscus californicus,
Neotoma macrotis, Chaetodipus californicus and Reithrodontomys megalotis) but
unfortunately not any Dipodomys species. The chaparral/oak woodland plot also
harbored the same list of species in addition to Peromyscus boylii (we brought a
sample home), Dipodomes venustus and potentially Dipodomys hermannii. We were
not able to collect the Dipodomys species (because they were not caught on the
last day of trapping) but this information will be useful to future interns who
will use high-density trapping strategies in places where we have found
kangaroo-rat presence.

Camera Update: We have now had our camera up for two whole weeks! The first week
was quite uneventful...400 pictures of willow leaves and maybe one or two of a
song sparrow examining our cat food bait in a confused manner. This week was
much more exciting (after we got rid of the troublesome leaves): squirrels,
chipmunks, bobcats, birds, raccoons (which was exciting- at first glance they
look a lot like ringtails which are also in the Procyonidae family) and of
course, the classic pictures of us crawling around trying to make sure the
camera works. To top off all of the wildlife pictures, a brown tree frog covered
the lens of the camera when it was checked (yielding a few comical brown-smudgy
pictures of frog belly). Grace will be sending out exciting pictures in the next
week or so.

We had an eventful visit from Kevin Cooper and Steve Schubert on Monday. Grace
and Andrew had the privilege of working with them throughout the day to get
ready for open house and had lovely discussions on the lookout history and
geography of Hi Mountain and surrounding areas (I was playing hooky- backpacking
along the Carson River, but ended up meeting with everyone at the end of the

One more last thing, we found a Giant Desert Scorpion milling about the floor of
the lookout JUST as we were about to fall asleep on Monday night. What a
surprise! Luckily, we were able to catch it and filled a nice little tupperware
with rocks and sand and fed it crickets that Ninja Andrew caught by hand! It is
rumored that Grace might keep it as a pet.Grace- "I think I really like scary
animals"Hannah- "Only when they are confined within tupperware"Grace- "Haha
that's SO true"
That's all for now!