10 Jun What bunny poop really tells us. Assessing isle Royale snowshoe hare population.
Since the reintroduction of wolves to Isle Royale National Park, many different prey species have felt the effects that these new predators bring. Snowshoe hare are a vital part of the ecosystem here on Isle Royale. They provide a duty to help maintain low growth vegetation as well as being a source of food for many different predators here on the island.
The snowshoe hare survey is used to conduct a population density of snowshoe hare on the island. To start this survey random points are generated on a map. Each point is the start of 10 -15 transects that are within 200m of the trail. To conduct a transect we use a stake with a cord of 1m^2 attached to it, we then throw the stake into the ground at an arm’s length away. Form here we create a GPS waypoint of the point and exam the area that falls withing the cords reach (this is a transect). We are looking for snowshoe hare pellets within the given area. If you are unsure what a hare pellet is, that’s okay the simple and straight forward answer is that it’s a hare’s poop! We are recording a few different things at each transect; X & Y coordinate, number of pellets, dominant tree cover, canopy cover and if we had to deviate our bearing. To conduct our next transect we pace out 20m in the compass bearing provided.
After enough transects have been done to give us a large enough data set. We can analyze the data and conduct a spatial analysis with the help of GIS software. This will give us a visual display of where the snowshoe hares are most abundant and what ecotype they are preferring on the island. I am only in week 3 of my internship where I am collecting the last of my data and starting the data entry process.