wildlife biology @ UM

Blackfoot-Clearwater Wire Roll-up 2014

 This weekend I got together with the University of Montana chapter of the Wildlife Society, the Backcountry Horsemen of Montana, and Jay Kolbe of Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Our goal was to help remove barbed wire from the Blackfoot-Clearwater wildlife management area.

While the wire had been down for numerous years (as was evident by some of it being buried under ground) it still left a less-than-pleasant mark on the landscape. It not only acts as a deterrent for wildlife to travel freely across the area, but it also generates wildlife and domestic animal fatalities for those which get caught in the wires. These qualities are what generate interest in removing them.

Due to our extensive use of barbed wire from the mid-1800’s on, there are still miles of this stuff hanging out on the American landscape. Nonetheless, with another look at the impressive turnout of this year’s Wire Roll, I think we’re making amazing progress at the Blackfoot-Clearwater!

Tomorrow is National Public Land Day

This mean, all national parks and public lands do no charge their entrance fee. So for those of you worth access, go out and enjoy our American Public Lands! I know I am!

Undergraduate Research Highlight : A study on cattle grazing.

We often see our graduate students up here on the blog, so today I decided it was time to put the light on our undergrads. Jason Hanlon is nearing the end of his stay here at the university, and for the summer he was given the great opportunity to spearhead his own research project. Observing the differences in small mammal presence between watering holes for cattle, and areas with minimal water, where grazing is reduced. He is still reviewing the data that he has collected, which I hope to post up sometime in the future. 

A Fresh Look at the use of Environmental DNA to Study Aquatic Animals (entry by Taylor Wilcox)

Environmental DNA (also called “eDNA” for short) uses samples of the environment (like a cup of water from a stream) to detect the presence of species (like brook trout) without ever actually seeing one. Aquatic animals slough DNA-containing particles into the water from their skin and gut, leaving a genetic trace of their presence. Detecting this trace with new eDNA methods has recently emerged as a powerful way to detect species with less effort (and harm to the animals) than traditional methods like electrofishing.

However, we still don’t know a whole lot about eDNA. For example, how much DNA does a fish produce?  This is an important question, because the probability of detecting a fish is in part dependent on how much DNA they leave in the environment. This summer I collaborated with researchers at the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station to measure how much DNA brook trout release into the water.

We placed individual fish in tanks in the field that were fed with water from a small stream where there are no brook trout. We then collected water samples from each tank over the course of two days, and measured how much brook trout DNA was in each sample.

 

We’ll keep you updated on the results!

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I think we need something funny to kick off the week! 

Watch the lectures live!

After talking to a gentleman with a camera, I learned that Missoula Community Access TV is livestreaming the whole event. Isn’t that amazing? I’ll still be recording what I can and writing about it later, but for those of you at home, check out their website to watch it all now.

It should also be airing later tonight.

Here’s the website: http://www.mcat.org

Happy watching!

Celebrating 50 Years of the Wilderness Act
UPDATE: finally getting to a few lectures.

Here are just a few images of the awesome conference that is currently in full swing. Later this week I hope to have a few overviews of lectures from this event, some by me, others by those who have offered some help and time to get to lectures that I couldn’t.

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act!@ the Maureen & Mike Mansfield Center and the UC Ballroom Sept. 10th-12
While one day is down, two more are still available to enjoy! If you’re in the Missoula area, stop by, attendance is free. Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act with some spectacular lectures by individuals such as Holmes Rolston and Doug Scott. Covering topics from ethics to art, there is a lecture of all sorts. 
If you cannot go, don’t sweat. We’ll try and cover at least one or two of the lectures for you. Personally, I’ll be attending a fair number on Thursday and some later lectures on Friday. So, if you plan to come, I hope to see you there! For more information, check it out here.
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Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act!
@ the Maureen & Mike Mansfield Center and the UC Ballroom Sept. 10th-12

While one day is down, two more are still available to enjoy! If you’re in the Missoula area, stop by, attendance is free. Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act with some spectacular lectures by individuals such as Holmes Rolston and Doug Scott. Covering topics from ethics to art, there is a lecture of all sorts. 

If you cannot go, don’t sweat. We’ll try and cover at least one or two of the lectures for you. Personally, I’ll be attending a fair number on Thursday and some later lectures on Friday. So, if you plan to come, I hope to see you there! 

For more information, check it out here.

Back and running!

Hello wildlifers and wildlife-lovers!

You probably noticed a lull the past few days. Well, school started, and it took some time to get back into the swing of things. Now that we’re all settled, however, there is so much to talk about, show, and do! Ah!

Starting Wednesday we’ll be back to the regular posting and, hopefully, we’ll have new videos to share as we take on a different look and feel. Exciting, right?

Anyhow, cheers from all of us here at the Wildlife Biology Montana blog!

Looks like the wondrous Wildlife Society is out and about to show off the Montana student chapter on club day. Now that school is in full swing you will be hearing more from them, for sure!