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Welcome to the Great Canadian C A R R I O N B E E T L E Project! My name is Randy Lauff, I’m a biologist at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish,

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Presentation on theme: "Welcome to the Great Canadian C A R R I O N B E E T L E Project! My name is Randy Lauff, I’m a biologist at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Welcome to the Great Canadian C A R R I O N B E E T L E Project! My name is Randy Lauff, I’m a biologist at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, NS. Uh-oh… they’re getting grossed out already.

2 I’d like to introduce you to a wonderful group of beetles, and a neat, simple experiment that you can help out with. Carrion Beetles thrive on, well…carrion. However, we don’t know the whole story about all the species. Across Canada, we have a few dozen species of Carrion Beetles, but where you live, there may be fewer than 10 species.

3 Some of the beetles specialize on small carrion, some large. Some live on the ground, some live up here in the canopy. This project is designed to be straight forward, and can be adapted as a science fair project, if you wish.

4 I hope this project will interest you! You’ll find that it is easy to do, but for your work to be comparable to that of everyone else’s (and it needs to be), three bits of the instructions must be followed critically: the type of bait used the height of traps and… the collecting frequency

5 The cast of characters! These images are from Wikipedia.Wikipedia

6 The Great Canadian C A R R I O N B E E T L E Project! Purpose: To determine habitat preferences and ranges of our forest-dwelling Carrion Beetles.

7 Another purpose: awareness…I want to get folks involved with – a) science and… b) an easily found, yet non-charismatic, beautiful member of our fauna Too often, folks know about Africa’s dung beetles, but not ours…they know about wolves, eagles and polar bears, but not moon snails, smoky shrews or jewel beetles, despite them being wonderful members of our fauna.

8 Methods In the slides that follow, you’ll see how to build traps out of readily available material, and how to erect them. Although this is a straight-forward experiment (in my eyes), misinterpretations or problems may crop up. That’s why in this first year, I’m only asking a few people to participate…if things look promising, I will advertise more widely across Canada with this! Please see the accompanying MS Word document for detailed instructions.

9 Basic Trap Design Milk Jug (~2 l), with a tiny hole in its bottom 1 for a string to pass through. Saturated salt water (~100 ml) 2 chicken leg on a string – the leg should be below the window but above the salt water Cut a 3 cm 2 window, the flap should point in and down. The top edge should be 3 cm from the top of the trap (i.e. the bottom of the jug). stick 2 You’ll need 200 ml for the two traps. Keep adding salt to 200 ml warm water until no more dissolves. 1 The bottom of the jug is the top of the trap.

10 Attach two of these traps to one rope – duct tape, cable ties or something similar should work; make sure the traps can’t slide down the rope – perhaps thread the cable tie through the weave in the rope. The bottom trap is attached so its window is one metre from the bottom of the rope; the top trap is attached so its window is 9.5 m above the lower trap’s window. You’ll want a spare metre or so above the top trap…ergo, the trap line must be about 12 m long. You should not add the chicken and salt water until you’re actually on site. 9.5 m 1.0 m

11 This is a tree. greater than 10 m step one: find a tree with a branch more than 10 m off the ground. step two: find another tree. These trees should be about 10 m apart. Measure this distance. The traps must eventually hang so they cannot be grabbed by a raccoon from a nearby branch. These trees should be out of sight of the road. This is another tree. In the woods!

12 greater than 10 m step 3: Tie a 30 m rope to a sturdy branch which is greater than 10 m from the ground. You will likely need a ladder for this, or you can throw the line over the branch, and tie it off somewhere on a tree branch or shrub near the ground (you may need a longer rope for this then). You may need to climb the tree…be careful! step 4: Bring the free end of the rope over the branch on the other tree, leaving the bight between them on or near the ground. This rope is the “span line”.

13 Step 5. Take the distance you measured between the two trees and divide this by two. Measure this distance along the span line from where the span line attaches to the first tree. ½ the distance between the two trees Step 6. Attach the trap line to the span line at this point. Pull on the free end of the span line…when the upper trap is free of the ground, add the chicken leg and salt water. This is the free end.

14 Adjust the free end of the span line until the window of the lower trap is 0.5 m from the ground (the upper trap’s window will then be 10 m high); tie off the span line. Add the chicken and salt water to the bottom trap. Use any leftover rope on the ground to anchor the system (tie it to a shrub or put a rock on it).

15 Come back in a week with all the stuff from the “weekly collections check-list.” Be excited – you’re now collecting real data!

16 Well, that’s all there is to it. Don’t forget to take pictures of the set up procedure, the times you collect your samples, and of the completed system. If you need help, you can always call me at: (902) 867-2471 (days) and (902) 863-8341 (home). Email is also good:

17 References Some websites to visit: Canadian Museum of NatureCanadian Biodiversity Website Nicrophorus central Anderson, R.S., and S.B. Peck. 1985. The insects and arachnids of Canada, part 13: the carrion beetles of Canada and Alaska (Coleoptera: Silphidae and Agyrtidae). Canadian Government Publishing Center, Ottawa. 121 p. Blouin-Demers, G. & P.J. Weatherhead. 2000. A novel association between a beetle and a snake: Parasitism of Elaphe obsoleta by Nicrophorus pustulatus. Philips, J.R., M. Root and P. DeSimone. 1983. Arthropods from a Saw-whet Owl (Aegolius acadicus) nest in Connecticut. Ent. News. 9: 60-64. Shubeck, P.P. 1970. Silphidae attraction to carrion-baited air cans versus carrion-baited ground cans. The Coleopterists’ Bulletin 24: 66-70. Ulyshen, M.D., J.L. Hanula, and S. Horn. 2007. Burying beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae) in the forest canopy: the unusual case of Nicrophorus pustulatus Herschel. Coleop. Bull. 61: 121-123.

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