Yolanda Barba Gutiérrez's Diary
Mammals of Nova Scotia

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July 10, 2009: Signicant breadth and insignificant depth

Yolanda_and_friend Studying mammals in a temperate environment is not always considered as exciting as in other more exotic places. However, I have found it a really fulfilling experience and believe it is important for the future of these habitats to collect data. We need more information about these mammals because they are crucial members of the ecosystem and may become threatened in the future due to climate change. Today Dr. Newman looked at the data we have collected over the past two weeks and he explained the results to us. Our dataset has turned out to be very unusual. We have only trapped twenty percent of voles that would be expected, but we have also trapped many other species, such as chipmunks, jumping mice and red squirrels, which are not as common. It is very difficult to give an explanation with data only collected by two teams. It could be said that vole numbers change in cycles and consequently our research leaders have detected a natural decrease in numbers. Also, it is not easy to link global climate change with the local data that we have collected. Nevertheless, it is possible that the unusual cold weather recently in Nova Scotia has played an important role in reducing vole numbers. Anyway, according to Dr. Newman, our dataset has shown "significant breadth and insignificant depth". Our experience finishes today but all of us know that we have made a difference in research about mammals and climate change.

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Yolanda Barba Gutiérrez, casthouse process engineer Avilés smelter, Spain