Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Intrepid White-Footed Mouse

Dr. Karen McBee is an environmental toxicologist at OSU. She and her students study the area of Northeast Oklahoma known as Tar Creek, a superfund site where 100 years or so of mining left huge piles of chat everywhere. (See the previous post!) 

The basic question she asks is, how does this affect the wildlife?

We began the program with a new song, as usual - "What Goes On?" which asks:

What goes on - after we’ve left such a mess?
What goes on - how does nature handle stress?
Humans come to alter every corner of the land
Yet we rarely come to understand
Once we're gone, what goes on?

Then we learned some background about the Tar Creek site and the animals that live there, and animals that live in nearby less altered habitats. We talked about different tools and methods scientists use to study populations in the wild. Then I asked the kids to think about what kind of research questions they might ask. 

We had so many great questions and ideas that the conversation went long beyond our usual ending time. I think everyone enjoyed speculating about why the white-footed mouse is so adept at living in the affected area, while other small rodents have disappeared, and thinking of ways to try to figure it out.

Photos below...

Dr. Karen McBee, Curator of Vertebrates with the Department of Zoology at Oklahoma State University.

Voucher specimens from the collection.


Gathering round to see the mice!

Hands on!

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