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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Sunday, June 23, 2019

Five years after the American Revolutionary War ended in 1783, pioneers from Massachusetts set out to create the first American City in what was known as the NORTHWEST TERRITORY, what would eventually become the States of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin................Marietta, Ohio was that first city outpost(1788) located in southeastern Ohio on the banks of the Ohio River..............By the close of the Civil War(1865), 80% of Ohio's woodlands had been cut down with Wolves, Pumas, Black Bears, Bobcats, Elk, Bison, Whitetail Deer, Fishers, Martens, Foxes and Passenger Pigons extirpated from the State................In 1751, two years prior to the outbreak of THE FRENCH & INDIAN WAR between England and France, the first American to chronicle his exploration through the Ohio territory, Christopher Gist stated: "I went to the south, westward down the little Miamee River or Creek, where I had fine traveling thro rich land and beautiful meadows, in which I could sometimes see forty or fifty buffaloes feeding at once"................."In 1779, Reverand David Zeisberger commented: "The Muskingum River(means) Elk's Eye, so called because of the numbers of elk that formerly fed on its banks, these animals being found there even at the present time".................At the outbreak of the War of 1812 between the USA and England, Isham Morgan wrote: "In the early times of Cuyohoga County(present day Cleveland), there were bears, wolves, deer, a few elks, wild turkeys, coons, porcupines, opposums, squirrels, wild ducks, geese and pigeons innumerable"..............."They too have nearly all left"............"In 1834, housewife Livvat Boke wrote: "Right up to our doorsill reaches the huge, somber and vaulted forest"..........."There are no openings to break up the overshadowy wolf-haunted woodland"................"The sunlight cannot get through the arches of the murmuring leaves"..............."Through the grayish shadow and down the pathways in the forest men walk, continually in a kind of midday gloom"

Ohio's Wild History - Frontier Fauna 1750 to Present

MARCH 3, 2013

Marietta, Ohio, the site of the first
City in ohio, settled, 1788(On the border
of Ohio and West Virginia, on the banks
of the Ohio River

"I . . . went to the south westward down the little Miamee River or Creek, where I had fine traveling thro rich land and beautiful meadows, in which I could sometimes see forty or fifty buffaloes feeding at once. . ." Christopher Gist, 1751

The Miami River --site of some of the last
Bison to roam Ohio

Centuries ago, Native Americans dubbed the winding river that met the Allegheny and flowed into the wild ancestral hunting grounds the "Ohio" meaning "beautiful." Many of the early explorers, travelers and settlers who followed the Ohio River into the wilderness that would later become the state of Ohio agreed with the Native Americans' sentiment, and offered their own accounts of the scenic beauty, natural diversity and abundance of wildlife they encountered.
Along their treks through Ohio's array of familiar and foreign landscapes-from impossibly dense forests to wide-open prairies, mucky bogs and swamps to broad river valleys-these adventurers were awestruck by enormous flocks of passenger pigeons darkening the sky, delighted by colorful Carolina parakeets shining like gems in the treetops, and mesmerized by dusky prairie chickens leaping above the tall grass during their courtship dances. They were impressed by the huge fish and the plentiful deer, beaver, elk and bison, not to mention the bears, wolves and panthers.
For the Native Americans and newcomers, alike, Ohio's indigenous animals furnished meat, fur, hides and oil that were essential to frontier survival and commerce. Frontier Ohio's blend of habitats, where the primeval forest of the east mingled with patches of grassland that foretold of the vast prairies to the west, created a rich environment for big game. The wealth of rivers and streams framed by the great freshwater lake and the beautiful river provided even more natural treasure. The Muskingum River teemed with monster muskellunge, many of which weighed in at 40 pounds, and an amazing assortment of freshwater mussels that were commonly on the menu at meals prepared by both Native Americans and pioneers.
"The Muskingum (means) Elk's Eye, so called because of the numbers of elk that formerly fed on its banks, these animals being found there even at the present time..."
Rev. David Zeisberger, History of the North American Indians, 1779

Muskingum river in blue over the yellow highlight on map

The humble pigeon was also an important food source from pre-settlement times, and for generations after Ohio's statehood. The enormous flocks provided easy pickings with a rifle or arrow while on the wing, and once the birds roosted, hundreds could be scooped out of the trees. In 1806, pioneer ornithologist Alexander Wilson described a flock of more than two billion passenger pigeons passing over head for several hours in a formation estimated at one mile wide and 240 miles long. Well into the 19th century, Buckeye Lake remained a prime roosting spot for astronomical numbers of passenger pigeons.
Predators also thrived on the frontier. The evening chorus of howling wolves often intimidated isolated settlers, but their livestock had more to fear from the hungry wolf at the door. Cougars, also known on the frontier as panthers, would typically avoid humans if unprovoked, but could attack viciously if their young were threatened. Some areas were thick with rattlesnakes, which could prove deadly to the unwary who failed to heed their warning. Despite the natural hazards on the frontier, though, humans faced far greater danger from each other than from any of the wild beasts of the forest.
"...Right up to our doorsill reaches the huge, somber and vaulted forest. There are no openings to break up the overshadowy wolf-haunted woodland...The sunlight cannot get through the arches of the murmuring leaves. Through the grayish shadow and down the pathways in the forest men walk, continually in a kind of midday gloom..."
Livvat Boke, memoirs from 1834 after her emigration from Germany to Mercer County

Mercer County on Ohio Map

In contrast to life's daily hardships and perils, tales of close calls with wildlife made for amusing campfire entertainment on the frontier. Circuit riding preacher Reverend Joseph Badger recalled in his 1803 memoir that just before nightfall, he was traveling unarmed along the Grand River when he encountered a huge bear. "Supposing the brute would run, as several had done which I had met before, I slapped my hands and halloed at him. But instead of running, he raised his hair on end, and snapped his teeth violently... To run away was impossible, in a pathless wood, thick with rush and fallen old timber. I concluded to resort to a tree, if I could find one...I soon got hold of a limb large enough to bear me, and at this instant the evil beast came to the tree with a violent snuffling and snapping...I then ascended about forty feet, as near the top of the tree as I thought was safe; found a convenient place to sit on a limb, and tied myself with a large bandana to the tree, so as not to fall if I fell into a drowse...". At dawn, the bear finally gave up and lumbered away. Badger concludes his hair-raising story on a light note, "My horse standing at the tree without moving a foot from the place I left him, and in no way frightened by the approach and management of the bear, seemed peculiarly Providential. This was the only time I was disturbed in camping out many times..."
"In the early times of Cuyohoga County, there were bears, wolves, deer a few elks, wild turkeys, coons porcupines, opposums, squirrels, wild ducks, geese and pigeons innumerable. They too have nearly all left..."
Isham Morgam, recollections of 1812-1813

Cuyohoga County, where the city of Cleveland is located

Another traveler treed by wolves used music to soothe the savage beasts. Joseph Barker, an early settler at Marietta, relayed a story in his 1795 journal of a neighbor who cleverly survived an encounter with wolves.
"A man by the name of Bagley, fiddler, coming from Wolf Creek towards spring one cold, snowy frozen afternoon, was attacked by a large gang of wolves who drove him up a tree, where he had to sit and play the fiddle for them until they saw fit to leave him the next day."
Not only did early explorers describe the living animals they saw, they also encountered baffling evidence of extinct prehistoric wildlife. In 1775, adventurer Nicholas Cresswell noted in his journal that his party came upon enormous bones and a tusk in a salt lick. The local Indians believed the bones to be the remnant of a white buffalo that died by drinking salt water, but Cresswell had seen an elephant tusk from Africa, and was convinced that the creature was somehow related to the elephant. Apparently, Cresswell was unaware of earlier mastodon finds in the colonies, and remained perplexed, "...Their neither is nor ever was any elephants in North or South America, that I can learn, or any quadruped one tenth part as large as these was..."
As Ohio's frontier days came to a close, the impenetrable woods of the Great Black Swamp of northwest Ohio became a last refuge for elk, wolves and lynx. The 1,500 square mile tract of enormous trees standing in perpetually muddy ground, dotted with limestone outcrops and sand ridges, was the last area of Ohio to be settled. Even as the newly completed canals were shuttling passengers and goods from one end of the state to the other, this remote corner of wilderness stayed suspended in time.
In the span of a few generations, though, settlement, agriculture, loss of habitat and over-hunting took a heavy toll on Ohio's native wildlife. The last buffalo in Ohio was shot in 1803 near the present site of Vesuvius Furnace in Lawrence County. Bounties offered for panther scalps were discontinued in 1818, and the big cats were believed to be eradicated from the state in 1838. Beaver disappeared by 1830, and by 1850, black bear, elk, gray wolf and bobcat were considered extirpated from Ohio, although they continued to live in some neighboring states.
"I am of the opinion that deer are plentier in this country that horned cattle are in New England. However, this state of things will not last long; for whenever a country begins to be settled, the native inhabitants must either flee or perish outright..."
Colonel John May, Marietta, 1788
By the time the state celebrated its 80th birthday in 1883, 83 percent of Ohio's original forest had been cleared. White tailed deer sought cover elsewhere, and by 1904 were no longer found in Ohio. Bald eagles used to nest by the hundreds on the shores of Grand Lake St. Marys before 1900, but were rarely seen decades later. Prairie chickens lost too much of their habitat, and were extirpated from the state by 1900. In 1900, the last wild passenger pigeon in Ohio was killed, and the entire species became extinct in 1914 when the last captive passenger pigeon died at the Cincinnati Zoo. The exotic-looking Carolina parakeet, the only native parrot in eastern North America, had become quite rare by the early 1800s. The last record of a sighting in Ohio was a small flock flying over the new capital square in Columbus in 1862, and the species was considered extinct after the death of the last captive Carolina parakeet at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1918.
A few of these species are gone forever, but a number of Ohio's native wildlife species that had become extirpated from the state are finding their way back. Beaver first reappeared in 1936 in Ashtabula County, and their numbers have increased steadily statewide. One of the most remarkable comeback stories is the white-tailed deer, which was first restocked in Scioto County in 1936. Subsequent reforestation efforts around the state by the Division of Forestry have increased Ohio's forest cover to more than 30 percent, and enabled the deer to thrive. Through careful nurturing by the Division of Wildlife, the magnificent bald eagle is once again an Ohio resident, with more than 120 nests along Lake Erie, the Ohio River and several of Ohio's inland state park lakes, including Grand Lake St. Marys.
In Scioto and Adams counties, Ohio's largest contiguous tract of forest encompassing Shawnee State Park and State Forest rimmed by Nature Conservancy lands now hosts a small resident population of black bear. The Shawnee hills also provide plenty of seclusion for the elusive bobcat, which is seen from time to time by observant wildlife watchers.
Thanks to the stewardship of more than 164,000 acres of state park lands and waters and additional public lands that remain largely undeveloped, coupled with reintroduction efforts and habitat improvements, modern Ohioans can catch a glimpse of many of the wild creatures that graced the untamed Ohio frontier.
- Jean Backs, Editor
Foster, Emily, Editor, The Ohio Frontier - An Anthology of Early Writings, The University Press of Kentucky, 1996.
Lafferty, Michael, Editor, Ohio's Natural Heritage, The Ohio Academy of Science, 1979.
Zeisberger, David, History of the North American Indians, Ohio Historical Society, 1910

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Even with 68.000 Coyotes shot and poisoned each year in the USA, there are more Coyotes than ever before...............A theme of this blog for 10 years, reinforced in study after study, is the following truism---When you kill Coyotes, "you just have an exchange of animals that come right back in and fill (up) that place"................And often, when a resident Coyote family group is broken up due to the breeding male/female being killed, their territory then gets broken up into multiple territories with multiple breeding family groups occupying the land................As any smart farmer knows,leave your existing Coyote neighbors alone and take advantage of their rodent killing ecosystem benefits............To "knee-jerk" into ridding of your land of Coyotes will boomerang on you resulting in a higher density of Coyotes down the road

Killing Coyotes Is Not As Effective As Once Thought, Researchers Say

"You just have an exchange of animals that come right back in and fill that place
In a rugged canyon in southern Wyoming, a helicopter drops nets over a pair of coyotes. They're bound, blindfolded and flown to a landing station. There, University of Wyoming researchers place them on a mat. The animals stay calm and still while technicians figure out their weight, age, sex and other measurements. Graduate student Katey Huggler fits the coyotes with tracking collars.
A coyote runs down the road in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park.
 In 2018, more than 68,000 coyotes were killed in the U.S., 
including 5,600 just in Wyoming, under an Agriculture Department program.
Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

"What really is most important to us is that GPS data," says Huggler, who's the lead on this project. What that data has been showing is, boy, do coyotes roam. Huggler is amazed at one young female that wandered long distances.
"It was like 110 miles as the crow flies, turned around, came back three days later," she says. "[Coyotes] are moving fast, but they're also moving really far."
Huggler says all that roaming changes during the short window when mule deer fawns are born, showing that coyotes are indeed targeting them. Mule deer populations around the West are down — 31% since 1991 — and some people blame coyotes. It stands to reason that killing some coyotes could help improve mule deer numbers, but University of Wyoming wildlife professor Kevin Monteith points out if you wipe out a pack of coyotes, it leaves a hole in the habitat, and nature dislikes a vacuum.

The federal government kills thousands of coyotes every year to keep them from preying on livestock and big game. But some wildlife biologists say killing coyotes isn't actually the best way to control them.
University of Wyoming professor Kevin Monteith takes
 measurements on a young male coyote.
Melodie Edwards/Wyoming Public Media

"The next day you just have an exchange of animals that come right back in and fill that place," Monteith says.
In fact, some studies show that if you kill off a lot of coyotes, they breed even more.
"Oftentimes, coyote control programs have been implemented, and in some or many instances, the effects were negligible," Monteith says.
Yet these conclusions haven't affected the high number of coyotes killed by Wildlife Services, the little-known program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct such lethal control. In 2018, the agency killed more than 68,000 coyotes in the U.S., 5,600 just in Wyoming. But some wildlife advocacy groups wonder why coyotes are being trapped, shot and poisoned when the science doesn't necessarily show it works.
"This is something we've been working on at a national scale, really trying to transform Wildlife Services," says Collette Adkins of the Center for Biological Diversity, a wildlife advocacy group that's filed numerous lawsuits to force Wildlife Services to include the most recent science on predator control in their plans.
"Like in Wyoming, which is relying on science primarily from the '70s, the '80s, maybe the early '90s, that just isn't OK," Adkins says. "When it's a couple decades old, they need to take another look."
Tayler LaSharr (left) talks classmate Brittany Wagler through how to release a male coyote. The orange paint on his head is to let helicopter technicians know he's already been collared.
Melodie Edwards/Wyoming Public Media

And more and more judges agree: California, Arizona and Idaho all are now required to change their plans to include more nonlethal approaches, and Adkins hopes Wyoming will be next.
"In this last decade, we have seen this growing body of literature that points to the effectiveness of nonlethal methods. For example, using guard dogs or fencing or frightening devices."
But Rod Merrell with Wildlife Services in Wyoming says, "We've used noisemakers and sirens, and they work for a period of time, and then the coyotes realize they're not going to get hurt."
Merrell says, based on his 23 years in the field, killing the coyotes does still work best to stop them from preying on livestock and big game.
But the researchers in the canyon say they're interested in taking a new approach — studying coyotes' behavior when they're alive.
After the two coyotes are weighed and collared, it's time to release them into the wild. Researcher Tayler LaSharr is teaching a classmate how to do that.
"When I'm ready and you say you're ready to go you'll, like, take your hands back and push him. They run really fast. You ready?"
The two researchers remove the animal's restraints at the same moment and the coyote springs away from their hands. He looks back, confused at his freedom, and then he's gone.

Friday, June 21, 2019

"Many plants rely on animals for seed dispersal, but are all individuals equally effective at dispersing seeds?"........ If not, then the loss of certain individual dispersers from populations could have cascade effects on ecosystems"............"Despite the importance of seed dispersal for forest ecosystems, variation among individual dispersers and whether land‐use change interferes with this process remains untested"...........Researchers at the University of Maine have now demonstrated that an individual's personality does affects its choice of seeds, as well as how distant and where seeds are cached"............. "Also concluded, is that anthropogenic habitat modifications shift the distribution of personalities within a population, by increasing the proportion of bold, active, and anxious individuals and in‐turn affecting the potential survival and dispersal of seeds"................ "The synopsis of the research is that preserving diverse personality types within an animal population is critical for maintaining the key ecosystem function of seed dispersal"

How personalities of wild small mammals affect forest structure

A mouse scampers through the forest, stopping suddenly at the sight of a tree seed on the ground. A potential meal. And a dilemma.

The mouse must decide if it should eat the  immediately. Or hide it in a safe place for consumption when food is scarce. Or pass it up in hopes of something better.
Many factors determine what the mouse will do next, including how abundant the seeds are and if the rodent is a fan of that variety.
Personality is another element that might play a role in what the mouse decides, according to a University of Maine researcher.
How animals react to an environment that is transforming due to and  is at the core of research being conducted by Alessio Mortelliti, an assistant professor of wildlife habitat ecology at UMaine.
One study Mortelliti and his students are pursuing focuses on how individual personalities of small mammals affect their response to global change.
Like humans, animals have a personality, according to Mortelliti.
"Anyone that has a pet knows they have a personality," he says. "It's the same for squirrels, mice and voles."
Within a species, individuals can be aggressive or shy, more or less social, Mortelliti explains.
"We're looking at how this individuality—their own way of being—affects the way they respond to changes in their environment made by humans," he says of wild small mammals.

When a mouse finds a seed, the decision it makes affects more than the mouse. If the seed is eaten immediately, any chance of a plant sprouting from that seed is gone. If the mouse decides to move and store the seed, a plant has a chance to grow.
Mortelliti believes that by modifying the environment, humans may be favoring certain personality types over others and, in turn, altering the course of evolution and the shape of the forest.
"By changing the proportion of different personalities in a population, we're changing the capability of that population to react to future changes in the environment," he says.
In the same way that a human's personality affects his or her professional success, an animal's personality affects its chance of survival, according to Mortelliti.
o test his theory, Mortelliti and his students set up a study in the Penobscot Experimental Forest in Bradley and Eddington, Maine. For five months each year, the researchers capture and tag mammals and measure their personalities using tests to determine how shy, aggressive or active they are. The animals are then tested several more times to see which are at more of an advantage in their environment—the wallflowers or the risk-takers.
Personality refers to individual-level differences in behavior that are consistent over time, says Allison Brehm, a UMaine master's student in wildlife ecology who is on the research team, helping evaluate behavior by conducting tests that look at traits such as boldness, activity, exploration and docility.
For the main personality test, the researchers catch the animal in the field and place it in a white box with a square marked in the center. Software is used to track the animal and determine how much time is spent moving around, staying in the corner or venturing into the middle. The test measures the tendency of an animal to emerge from a safe or enclosed area to enter a more exposed or risky space.
"We found if a mouse was really curious and went around and crossed the center, it tends to do the same thing months later," Mortelliti says. "That shows it's really their own personality. It's not their mood of the day. That's how they act."
Mortelliti compares the repeat behavior to humans. A shy person, for example, behaves in a relatively shy manner consistently, he says.
"From a perspective of a mouse, vole or a squirrel, you're scared, you're being put in a new environment, you will think twice before going in the center," he says. "It's like going to a party, getting in the center and dancing. You have to be brave to do such a thing. It's exactly the same for a mouse, but some individuals do it."

Since the start of the project about two years ago, the researchers have tagged around 1,500 mice, voles, shrews, squirrels and chipmunks.
The researchers are measuring personality traits and have found variations within each species. Although they haven't yet quantified the results, they have observed disparities between species and plan to compare differences in personality.
Another aspect of the project relates to how individuals with different personality types make decisions in front of seeds and how those decisions affect the composition of Maine's forests.
"Small mammals exist to predate or disperse seeds; that's their job in the ecosystem," Mortelliti says. "The whole life of a plant is about trying to use the service of rodents as much as possible."
What a mouse or other small mammal decides to do when it encounters a seed links back to personality, according to Mortelliti, who says he believes this is the first study looking at personality and seed dispersal.
For one of the experiments, microchipped animals are presented with artificial seeds. The seeds are flagged and tracked to determine if they were eaten immediately or cached.
"Spending a summer crawling around the forest looking for small mammal caches teaches you a lot about the way these animals think—and I learned to see the forest a bit differently," says Brehm of Pembroke, New Hampshire.
When the animal passes under an antenna, the researchers can tell who the animal is and its personality based on previous tests. The researchers also observe the decisions that are made in front of the fake seeds.
When it comes to real seeds, Mortelliti and his students have found the animals don't care for paper birch or balsam fir, which may explain why these are the most common trees in the Penobscot Experimental Forest. The animals seem to prefer spruce and white pine.
"What we're looking at specifically—on top of what they like and what they don't like—is how different individuals act in front of seeds," Mortelliti says. "Does a risk-taker tend to hide more seeds? How does a shy individual act? Which individual will behave differently in front of a seed?"
Sara Boone, another graduate student who is working on the project, says the personality of a small mammal may influence its behavior in different situations.
"Bolder individuals may be more willing to take risks to find seeds than shy individuals, or choose seeds based on different nutrient contents or sizes. Shy individuals may consume fewer seeds overall than bolder individuals, and have less of an impact on seedling recruitment," says Boone of Greenfield, Wisconsin, who is pursuing a master's degree in wildlife ecology.
The project marks Boone's first time delving into personalities while studying animal behavior. She is interested in the community dynamics of research sites and how the personality and behavior of small mammals influence community structure.
"If humans are modifying the environment, they're modifying the composition of personality within a population, then this, in turn, will have effects on the forest, because we're favoring certain individuals which make certain decisions in front of seeds," Mortelliti says. "If we're favoring personalities that are going to predate more than cache, then this will have an effect on how forests regenerate."
Understanding how individual animals and populations are affected by global change is important, Brehm says, especially in a state such as Maine, which represents either the northern or southern edge of the range of many species.
"If  gives an advantage to individuals with certain personality types—for example, the bold ones—over time, populations experiencing these changes will be less behaviorally heterogeneous, and ultimately less resistant to ," she says.
While personality has a genetic component, nature also has promoted its existence, according to Mortelliti.
"If it wasn't useful for us to have personalities, we wouldn't have this variation in individuals," he says. "Natural selection has made sure that within a population we have diversity of behavior. If natural selection has promoted variation in personality through millions of years of evolution, that suggests this variation is important for species and ecosystems."
If through land-use change, certain personalities in a species population become homogenized, the capability of populations to adapt will become affected, Mortelliti says. In the long term, species need variation in personality to preserve their evolutionary potential, he adds.
"In some years and circumstances certain personalities might be advantaged, versus in others when other  types might be advantaged. But for a species to be able to face environmental challenges of the future, this richness and variation in behaviors has to be maintained," he says. "If land use affects different personalities, then we might be modifying the evolutionary potential of populations."
In another project, Mortelliti is studying how small mammals may affect the range expansion of plants due to climate change in Acadia National Park.
In April 2017, Mortelliti was one of three scientists awarded a fellowship to conduct research in Acadia. The fellowships were granted as part of Second Century Stewardship, an initiative of the National Park Service, Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Over the last 100 years, Acadia's forest composition has transformed due to climate change, according to Mortelliti.
"In the next 100 years, it will change completely again," he says. "The whole plant community is going to change because it's really on the border of the distribution range of many plants."
By favoring certain plant seeds over others, small mammals will shape the forest composition, Mortelliti says.
"As these plants move northward, rodents are going to be critical, they're going to be the gatekeepers of Acadia National Park," he says.
To help plan for the future forest landscape, Mortelliti and his students collected about 20 different seeds of plants that are expected to invade Acadia in the next 10–20 years. The researchers are evaluating which types the small mammals prefer, and which ones they don't.

"We want to identify the winners and the losers," he says. "Which are the plants that are going to be favored by rodents, which are the ones that are going to be blocked?"
The goal is to provide Acadia with a list of the types of plants it can expect in the future.
"The results of our field experiments will allow managers to predict how local forest communities might change in the coming years and allow them to take the appropriate actions in time," Mortelliti says.
In Acadia, just like any other forest, small mammals have the biggest effect on which plant species are more dominant, and researchers have often ignored this, according to Mortelliti.
Research has shown that small mammals can consume and/or remove up to 95 percent of the seeds available in their given territory, Brehm says. It's important, she adds, to shed some light on this process, especially in a state that relies so heavily on the forest industry.
"In Maine, forests and forest products play a major role in the economy. Maine is the most forested state in the U.S., and 97 percent of the forest area in Maine is subject to natural regeneration," she says. "Because small mammals play a fundamental role in the process of forest regeneration, understanding the impact they can have on the structure and species composition of the forest is critical."
The data collected by Brehm and Boone will be used for both their theses, as well as by future students and forestry industry employees.
"This research will feed into a longer-term study that will help forestry managers better understand the role that seed predators have on the regeneration of Maine's forests, and can help inform their decisions about long-term  management to maximize the success of target tree species," Boone says. "Healthy forests are beneficial for outdoor recreation, economically valuable and beautiful to look at."
Mortelliti says the results of his research may not necessarily be of immediate use, but they could make a difference in conservation and the long-term survival of a population.
Having healthy and viable populations of animals is even more important in today's rapidly changing climate, and it's up to humans to maintain this diversity of behaviors within populations, he says.

More information: Allison M. Brehm et al. Land-use change and the ecological consequences of personality in small mammals, Ecology Letters (2019). DOI: 10.1111/ele.13324