A student from Northampton has secured funding to help train a dog to find harvest mice, as part of a project investigating the decline of the rodent.
The harvest mouse population is under threat because of the destruction of their habitats, modern farming methods and the use of pesticides. Due to their small size, it remains difficult for researchers to ascertain just how many there are left in the natural environment.
Emily Howard-Williams, a lecturer in Countryside Management at Moulton College and a PhD student at the University of Northampton, has successfully secured a UK Mammal Grant from the People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) to help fund her ongoing research into the ecology of the harvest mouse.
Part of the research project sees a dog, Tui, used to locate the whereabouts of harvest mice. Emily commented: “The funding from the PTES will allow us to continue to develop this novel survey method that I’m confident will prove effective for the species. Tui is already proving reliable in the training environment. A more effective monitoring tool is needed for harvest mice, without fully understanding their dispersal we cannot implement effective conservation measures.”
Dr James Littlemore, Senior Lecturer in Land and Environmental Management at Moulton College, added: “This new member of the team, with her very sensitive nose, may once and all help to answer that immortal question of ‘just how many harvest mice are out there.’ As a result of this and other related work, a more concerted species conservation programme could be implemented to ensure we are better able to conserve this elusive yet iconic species for the future”.
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