Have you ever considered all of the wildlife that live hidden around your neighborhood, tucked in small patches of woods? Where does the raccoon that riffles through the garbage bin or the deer that eats your mother's azaleas go once the sun rises at dawn?
Researchers from Mississippi State University are teaming up with the Urban Wildlife Information Network (UWIN) to discover the secret life of animals in our urban and suburban neighborhoods in Mississippi.
Adam Rohnke, senior wildlife extension associate, and Dana Morin, assistant professor of wildlife ecology, both in the MSU Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, will be working with UWIN, Master Naturalist volunteers, and graduate student Brittney Palode to learn what urban mammals are doing in Mississippi.
By using remote-triggered game cameras, the researchers hope to identify what species are inhabiting different habitats such as parks, golf courses, cemeteries, and other natural areas in and around cities and towns. The images will also be used to tease out interesting information about behavior, such as what animals are not active when humans are around or what spaces animals may avoid when other, larger animals are present.
UWIN, initiated by the Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL, is a partnership of researchers from 21 cities across North America who are dedicated to studying wildlife in urban areas. The goal of UWIN is to standardize survey methods and share information gathered by the partners to identify urban wildlife population and behavioral trends with the intent to better understand urban wildlife ecology across cities. At the same time, data collected for a specific city can help inform urban planning, wildlife management, and promote public education about wildlife in our own backyards.
Rohnke coordinates the Central MS Master Naturalist Program, provides wildlife management, and educational programming to homeowners and landowners in Mississippi. He is based at the Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Raymond, MS.
Morin directs the Carnivore and Population Ecology Laboratory at Mississippi State University. The lab is a part of the MSU Forest and Wildlife Research Center.