Jared Walker Smith - 2005 Environmental Studies Senior Seminar Research Project
|How to Trap|
With such a broad topic as Small Mammals and Agriculture - A Study of Effects and Responses, I needed a way to focus the project. I decided that the best way to serve the Northfield community would be to provide a reference site for identifying local small mammals and the effects they have on agriculture. I focused only on small mammals that are both present in the Cannon River Watershed (CRW), and have some significant contact with agriculture, either directly or indirectly.
To determine which animals are present, I used a list provided for the Vertebrate Biology class at St. Olaf detailing which mammals live in Minnesota, and which of those occur in the CRW. To conclude which of those mammals have an effect on agriculture I consulted the field guide The Mammals of Minnesota by Evan B. Hazard, and conducted a literature review of research on the subject of mammals and agriculture, specifically referring to conventional and sustainable agriculture, and tillage systems. A more thorough search was then done for the small mammals that were found to be most abundant within agroecosystems; including the deer mouse, meadow vole, house mouse, and 13-lined ground squirrel.
I then used this research to assess the general impacts of agricultural systems on small mammals in the Agricultural Types page. The choice to focus on tillage systems within sustainable and conventional agriculture is because tillage has been shown to have one of the greatest impacts on small mammal diversity and abundance within agricultural fields (Warburton and Klimstra, 1984; Clark and Young, 1986; Getz and Brighty, 1986; Jones, 2003). The Species Descriptions page provides a description, the status, the natural role, and the agricultural role of each mammalian species. Descriptive data was used from The Mammals of Minnesota (Hazard, 1982), and the species roles were taken from both the guidebook and other research. My own experience doing research on small mammals while at St. Olaf allowed me to write the small mammal trapping methods in the How to Trap section.Due to time constraints and seasonality, I was unable to conduct any of my own trapping on sustainable and conventional fields in the Northfield area. This would have provided local data on the prominent agricultural species, as well as allowing for local comparisons between farming systems. Yet since my primary goal is to provide a reference to local residents, this does not affect the benefits of my project.