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Small Mammal Tracking

Small mammals are the prominent prey item of the Barn Owl, with their activity and abundance affected by changes in agricultural practices. Therefore, it is important to understand small mammal relative abundance between different farmland habitats, to identify management practices to support small mammal numbers and benefit local Barn Owl populations.

To detect the presence of small mammals, the Owl Box Initiative scientists will identify areas to locate small mammal ink tracking tunnels across our project farmer clusters, and place them in position during a time period when owls are most likely to be provisioning their young. Locations of the tunnels will be dictated by occupancy rates and breeding success of existing Barn Owl boxes within the project area, and habitat type.

 

Identification of small mammal footprints from the tracking tunnels will be carried out to to understand what species of small mammals are present across various farmland habitats, complemented by analysis of Barn Owl pellets collected within the same locations.
 

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Small mammals enter the tunnel and leave ink footprints as they exit.