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Friday, January 27, 2012

True story: I collected deer scat today.

Here we go, another adventure!

Today I accompanied the aforementioned John and Sasha with Mady on a quest to collect white-tailed deer scat. And not just any white-tailed deer scat, WHITE white-tailed deer scat. In a nearby county, Seneca County, we have a bit of a phenomenon....a large (sometimes dubbed "The World's Largest") wild population of white deer, fondly referred to as the Seneca White Deer. These are not albino deer, which is a mutation of the gene rendering the animal pigment-less. This is merely a color variation of the white-tailed deer. Like a BLACK gray squirrel. Like a CROSS fox. Like a PIEBALD anything... it's so cool, people are amazed by it!

Borrowed from: Britannica.com

The National Science Foundation grant that Finger Lakes Community College holds, which is to fund undergraduate research, and other colleges are involved in, is funding a study that a biotech/microbio class from Jamestown Community College (JCC) is participating in. The students are interested in studying the genetics of these fantastic white deer, as compared to the 'typically' colored white-tailed
deer.


To help facilitate this, we traveled out to the area that these are known to be in and collected deer scat. In several weeks, that class from JCC will be coming to spend the weekend at our Muller Field Station that I've spent alot of time at, to be doing some work and learning about our research opportunities at the field station. The following are some pictures from this morning's adventure!

White-tailed deer scat.


We had a loose protocol we followed this morning to avoid cross contaminating the samples:
  • For each 'sample site', or pile of pellets we came across, we used one of these vials.
  • I gloved my right hand, and held the vial in my left.
  • I filled the vial with the gloved hand, removed the glove inside out, disposed of it, and then capped the vial.
  • One vial per sample site and fresh gloves each time.
Photo credit: Mady Alfieri



Final collection of samples, ready to be refrigerated until the pickup next weekend.

And as we were leaving the site, our suspicions of the white deer were confirmed...
...here a nice little family is grazing happily!


Photo credit: Mady Alfieri

2 comments:

  1. I've never heard of white deer. Very cool. It must be fun to be part of a study of their genetics.

    Scat can tell us a lot. I often poke through bear scat to see what they've been eating.

    And yes, you're very welcome to join me on a hike when you're in my neck of the woods!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aren't they neat? If you're interested in hearing more about them, I'd be glad to share it with you!

      Delete

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