ObjectivesAfter this lab you should be able to do the following:-Work with metric units.-Understand the purpose of lab work and general lab methods.-Create and analysis graphs from collected data.MaterialsMaterials for this lab are:RulerTriple beam balanceMeasuring TapeSandBeakerEnvironmental Lab Skills
IntroductionIn the summer of 2005, Mr. Ashton participated in a field research team studying endemic carnivores of Madagascar. This lab will work to help you understand some of the basic skills involved in environmental research and this class. The following are excepts from the briefing about this field work.Project BackgroundDespite the unique ecology and enigmatic evolutionary history of Malagasy carnivores, members of this family have been the subject of fewin-depth field studies. The carnivores of Madagascar, like many other members of the island’s biota, display a particularly high degree of endemism (endemic – Native only to a certain region) among modern taxa(taxonomy – classification of living organisms). Seven of the eight species of carnivore found on Madagascar have no extant representatives anywhere else in the world. No felid, hyaenid, and canid representatives are commonly recognized within Madagascar’s endemic mammalian predator guild. As in most biodiversity hotspots, non-endemic species encroach upon the natural habitats of Madagascar’s top endemic predator.Investigating and identifying how both endemic and invasive predators divide their resources and otherwise affect one another provides significant information to increase our understanding of both ecological and conservation issues in Madagascar and abroad.The current conservation status of the Malagasy carnivores, noted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, ranges from “vulnerable” to “unknown,” and many of these species are targeted for persecution by indigenous human populations and continue to decline in numbers. Carnivore populations have been identified in more than twenty protected areas throughout Madagascar (Kohncke and Leonhart 1986), but most of these populations have not been monitored for almost thirty years. The focal site for this proposed project is the Ampijoroa Research Station and its surrounding area in Ankarafantsika National Park, Madagascar. Thisproject consists of trapping surveys of carnivore populations to estimate their current distributions and relative abundances. Our study focuses on an in-depth examination of the natural history and behavioral ecology of Madagascar’s largest carnivore, the puma-like Cryptoprocta ferox, commonly known as the fossa. Only three species of Malagasy carnivore are thought to occur at Ampijoroa. These are Cryptoprocta, a recently discovered (yet taxonomically unidentified) species of Wild Cat, and the smaller, non-endemic Viverricula indica. We are particularly interested in how invasive, competing species affect the behavioral ecology of the large, endemic Cryptoprocta.