Seed eaters, like the white-footed mouse, must be able to find, collect, process and then store or eat enough food for their immediate and year-long needs. While doing so, they must avoid being eaten themselves and must not expend too much energy in the processes of searching for and handling the seeds. This study lets you explore some of the fascinating adaptations small seed eaters have for finding, choosing, and handling seeds in the schoolyard.
You will be embedding seeds into soft beeswax so that the teeth marks of the seed eaters can be seen and hopefully identified. These will be placed out as seed caches and the number of seeds removed measured in one weeks time. There are a number of factors you could consider in your study:
- seed type, e.g., compare preference for sunflower versus maple seeds.
- seed coat, e.g., compare removal of intact seeds versus those with the seed coat removed.
- seed number, e.g., see if caches with many seeds are more attractive than those with few seeds.
- micro-habitat, e.g., compare seed disappearance from caches in small versus large openings in the meadow.