Samantha in Taos

Samantha is a senior majoring in biology in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. A member of the University Honors Program, she received a Richter Fellowship for summer 2012 to conduct research at SMU-in-Taos. She is investigating the frequency of ectoparasites in specific habitats by collecting them off deer mice. She expects to find ticks, mites, fleas, botflies and more, and will document which parasites are near rivers, woodlands and deserts. With this information she plans to inform residents and visitors of Taos how to stay parasite free and avoid possible transmission of diseases.

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Found: fleas

Today was the first “official” day of research! At 8 a.m. the traps were collected from the sagebrush and casitas and were brought to the lab. A total of 15 traps caught mice. It was a very tedious process handling the mice and took about 5 hours.

First, the ectoparasites needed to be removed in water so as not to transfer them to myself and classmates. The only ectoparasites found on these 15 mice were fleas, which made it much more crucial that they were removed carefully from the mice for they could transmit diseases easily by jumping onto us. After the fleas were removed it was important to take measurements and give each mouse a tag.

Then the traps were cleaned and reset out in the sagebrush field. It was raining by this time, so we gathered our boots and rain jackets and headed out. Stay tuned to see what mice are found tomorrow!

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