No Bears, Do You Know the Real Animals of Oakland University?

Students Conduct Mammal Survey of Oakland University’s Biological Preserve

A coyote runs through the brush at OU

Coyote at OU

Oakland University (OU) Students in BIO 4350/5386 Topics in Behavioral Biology course spent last semester surveying the mammals of Oakland University’s biological preserve.

“To my knowledge, no one had previously done a thorough mammal survey of the preserve,” said course instructor Sandra Troxell-Smith, Ph.D., a special lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences. “The class was able to get some very cool results about the critters in OU’s own backyard.”

She said that some of the sightings were typical – deer, coyote, turkeys, woodpeckers, etc. – but others, such as a flying squirrel and mink, were unexpected.

A closeup view of a buck in the wooded area of OU

Deer at OU

“The bio preserve is one of the jewels of our campus,” she added. “It’s a great place for student and faculty researchers to perform field work, and it certainly adds to the biodiversity of this geographic area.”

The wildlife photos were captured by motion-activated cameras. The class was divided into two teams, with each team placing cameras in areas of either “low” or “high” habitat fragmentation in the preserve near the R&S Sharf Golf Course on campus.

“Our team placed two cameras on well-traveled (high habit fragmentation) game trails on the southern end of the preserve,” said Hunter Craig, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biological Sciences. “We hypothesized that the greater human presence and less area for food and shelter near the golf course would have a negative impact on animal community diversity.”

Students tagged the photos using software from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife service. The software allowed for quick and effective tagging of the species and number of individuals in each photo, and also recorded vital information like photo date and time. The students will use the data to evaluate whether their hypotheses are substantiated.

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  1. Why do all of your article photos block the copy in your emails??

  2. Are there still some of the miniature deer that used to live in the estate or are all the deer white-tail now?

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