Preparing for the National Harvest Mouse Survey
Dan Bowen is a first year Biology Masters student at the University of Oxford. Over the summer, Dan did an internship with the Society to help our Science Officer Frazer and Data & Information Officer Charlie prepare for the National Harvest Mouse Survey. In his blog, Dan shares what he got up to while with the Society.
I very much enjoyed my internship with the Mammal Society, as I learned a lot of new skills that will put me in a great position securing future internships, research placements and giving me a head start on topics in my degree.
Frazer Coomber, the Science Officer at the Mammal Society, had already written a protocol for how the harvest mouse survey would be run. I helped to suggest edits and include sections on identifying habitat types in survey areas, identifying harvest mice nests, and recording land use change. In addition to this, with the lack of funding available to the Mammal Society, all roles are being performed on a voluntary basis. This involved me creating training material for volunteer surveyors and contacting local record centres and prospective trainers and coordinators.The main purpose of my internship placement was to get the National Harvest Mouse Survey ready to go this Autumn 2021. Without any knowledge about British Mammals, even less about its rodents, the first task was to compile notes from research papers to understand the biology of harvest mice and the need for their conservation. It was sad to see that there was so little population data on such an iconic mammal and concerning that a mammal on the IUCN Red List of British Mammals could go without such data informing conservation and land management decisions.
As well as preparing content for the project, I was also involved in drumming up interest in the project. This primarily involved creating social media posts introducing the public to the project and creating fun interactive animal nest games. This was a great success and I was contacted by multiple people asking to get involved. To reach out to more academic individuals, I created a newsletter and magazine article which included maps and data I had analysed using QGIS software to make the existing information clear and easy to understand.
I have very much enjoyed working with the staff of the Mammal Society during this internship. Everyone was friendly and approachable, prompt in responding and very knowledgeable in their areas of expertise. The Mammal Society, although a small organisation which relies on donations alone, makes a big impact on the conservation of British mammals and their work is vital in ensuring the continued loss of wildlife is prevented. I hope that I have met expectations during this internship, and would love to come back!
To find out more about what’s going on during National Mammal Week 2021 click here.