Thursday, 22 August 2013

The mouse botherers

Today it is the turn of the mice of the island to bear the scrutiny of researchers. Four scientists from Nottingham University and one from Aberdeen University are on the island to check the population of the island mice and take a close to look at their genetics.
As mice go the island mice are very interesting and have been studied for many years. They are house mice and normally house mice, as their name suggests, need to live in close proximity to man to survive. But the Isle of May house mice have adapted to survive on the island without needing human habitation. It isn't exactly clear what their life style is but is probably involves more a unusual mouse diet of carrion as well as the standard invertebrates and vegetation. Being an island population and therefore closed (no immigrants or emigrants) then it is of great interest to researchers as they can narrow down influencing factors and track changes within the population.
These scientists are particularly looking at the way the genetics change over time and across the different aspects on the island.
 So how do you study the mice? Well, lines of Longworths traps, metal boxes that trap the mice live, are set in the evening and then checked the next morning. Last night 115 traps were set and caught 32 mice which was considered by the researchers to be a reasonable hit rate.

The traps are put it into the vegetation and marked with red topped canes.



 A bag of Longworths trap.
 A trap triggered with a mouse inside.

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