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Is This Mouse a Pirate?

Deer mouse, with tag. Photo by Sarah Fritts. (Click to enlarge.)
Deer mouse, with tag. Photo by Sarah Fritts. (Click to enlarge.)

Did a field researcher somehow capture a pirate mouse? No! This raffish rodent is part of a study that is evaluating how harvesting plants for use in biofuels is affecting ecosystems. The photographer, NC State Ph.D. student Sarah Fritts, took the photo – and explains what we’re looking at.

“Renewable energy likely will become the dominant climate change solution for the entire world by the middle of the century according to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the United States Forest Service says that using woody biomass as a renewable energy feedstock will contribute to social, economic, and ecological sustainability.

Our lab in the Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology program at North Carolina State University is working to determine wildlife response to harvesting woody biomass for use as renewable energy and biofuels, because gleaning woody biomass could alter habitat for a variety of wildlife. Biomass Harvesting Guidelines (BHGs), which specify volume and arrangement of woody debris retained after biomass harvests, have been developed to conserve wildlife habitat and other ecosystem services, but empirical data on wildlife response to woody biomass harvests is lacking. Therefore, we are evaluating amphibian, reptile, bird, arthropod and small mammal response to experimental treatments adapted from retention strategies from existing BHGs.  We are employing a variety of sighting, capture and tagging techniques, such as this uniquely numbered tag in the right ear of a Peromyscus [Editor’s note: Peromyscus is a genus of deer mice] that was captured in a live Sherman trap, to assess wildlife population responses. We will use the capture history of each tagged individual to estimate abundance in the experimental treatments.

This photo was taken on Weyerhaeuser Company property in Beaufort County, N.C.”

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