Biodiversity of Small Mammals
Small mammals (mostly rodents and insectivores like bats and shrews) are crucial to ecosystem function – they act as grazers and insectivores, as seed dispersers, and as food sources for medium sized and larger predators. However, there is still a great deal unknown about this group of organisms – although most large mammal species have been named and cataloged for centuries, new species of small mammal are still being discovered every year. My project for this summer involves a great deal of field work in the live trapping and identification of small mammals, and in the curation of a mammalian museum collection. Some travel may be required – either to west Texas to look for kangaroo rats and ground squirrels, or to Panama to survey neotropical small mammals depending on pandemic conditions. Interested students should be comfortable working outside under hot and humid conditions, working evenings and early mornings with a break in the afternoons, and have no aversion to handling live small mammals or their preserved skulls or skins. No previous experience with small mammal trapping or handling is required.