While visiting the BFREE field station in southern Belize, you have the opportunity to study the small mammal communities living in the cacao plantation and the nearby forest. You will learn about trapping methods, how to handle and identify the small mammals, and some basic data analyses. Continue reading below to familiarize yourself with this study.
Why sample small mammals? Previous studies in the Bladen Nature Reserve have shown that small mammals, especially the forest spiny pocket mice, are important seed dispersers and seed predators. Additionally, vertical stratification is an important habitat component for small mammals. Consequently, small mammals may be especially sensitive to differences in habitat structure between cacao farms and forest habitats.
Study Methods. In January 2015, permanent small mammal trapping grids were established in the cacao farm and in the nearby forest. In June 2016, an additional grid was established in edge habitat between the cacao and forest habitats. In each grid, 10 rows of 10 numbered flags are anchored to the ground. Flags are set 7 meters apart. During your participation in this study, you will set a small Sherman trap near each numbered flag.
To attract species with different diets, a combination of peanut butter, oats, and fruit jam is used as bait. See the videos below which show how to prepare the bait and how the traps work.