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Analysis of historical records of the distributions of a number of small mammal (rodent, shrew, opossum) species strongly suggests a pattern of replacement of northern species by southern species in the northern Great Lakes region. In a few well-studied communities in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the commonest species of mammals are now southern invaders like white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) and southern flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans). Much of the change has happened in the last 30 years, a time when climate has warmed substantially and winters have become much shorter. Our goal is to document the extent of the faunal change, and through a combination of long-term monitoring and sampling across a variety of habitats that experience different climatic regimes, test the hypothesis that climate change is responsible.
This project involves two activities. The first is a semi-annual census of small mammals carried out at 3 sites at UMBS during the fall and spring of each year. This has been ongoing since 1988. The second involves broad surveys of small mammal communities in northern MI, at the Biological Station (including Sugar Island) and at as many other locations in the region as we can manage.