That’s Life [Science]: Crap you didn’t really need to know

I am a sometimes contributor to the UMass graduate student produced blog That’s Life Science and this post is another part in the series on water vole field work and biology.  This is just a preview of the post; find the whole post at:

Crap you didn’t really need to know

“How do you count an animal you can’t see, hear, or find? By its poo of course!”

How do you count animals that don’t want to be seen?

By their poo of course! Counting poo is one way that ecologists can record information about animal populations that are hard to find, rare, or very secretive. Different animals have unique shapes and sizes of feces (or faeces) which can aid in identification. As part of my research I had found myself hiking in a way that resembles a mix of ungraceful falling and unsuccessful breakdancing across the uneven terrain of the Scottish Highlands.

Other studies have used droppings to count deer [1], tigers, and snow leopards or to locate penguins; but I was looking for a more dangerous beastie: the water vole. Arvicola amphibius is a small rodent that lives….


See the rest of the post here.



Water vole juvenile. Photo used by permission. By Rebecca Tanner.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s