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"SHREW TALK" - Vol. 1, No. 27 - 14 December 1997

SHREW TALK - 14 December 1997 - Vol. 1, No. 27
Number of Recipients: >287
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Contents of this Issue
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o Research
1. Re: Identifying shrew species without killing them I
2. Re: Identifying shrew species without killing them II
3. Re: Shrews in the house / Virus alert?
4. Trapping water shrews (Sorex palustris)
5. Request: Suncus murinus ecology data
6. Number of mammae in shrews?
7. Re: Number of mammae in shrews?
8. Fish as predators on shrews
o Miscellaneous
1. Request: Educational films about shrews
2. Shrew Folklore, Stories and Superstition
o Shrew Bibliography: New Papers / Books
1. Cawsey, P.A. 1991: Shrews on moorland
2. Frafjord, K. et. al. 1994 / 1995: Norwegian shrews
o What's New on the Shrew (ist's) Site 1. New Shrewists on e-mail
o Shrew Talk Instructions
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o RESEARCH
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1) Re: Identifying shrew species without killing them I A reply to J. Whitaker (1/26)
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Date: Mon, 8 Dec 1997 09:48:22 -0700 (MST)
From:<ddansere@gpu.srv.ualberta.ca>
Subject: Re: reliable method to live trap shrews
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Joe, Thanks for your help. I am worried about identifing S. monticolus, S. arcticus and S. cinereus all which can be about the same size and even colouration. I will try the lens and probe method.
I have autposied about 400+ shrews recently and I have found that sexing young of the year shrews is difficult to immpossible. Granted some of my specimens are a bit rotten but I was wondering if you know of any papers that would help me with this task.
thanks again Stephen
Stephen D. Petersen Phone (403) 492-4622 Department of Biological Sciences Fax (403) 492-1903 University of Alberta Edmonton, Alberta, T6J 2E9
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2) Re: Identifying shrew species without killing them II
A reply to S. Petersen & J. Whitaker (ST 1/25 & 1/26)
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Date: Tue, 09 Dec 1997 00:30:16 -0700
From: Don Pattie <donpatt@nait.ab.ca>
Subject: SHREW TALK: Vol. 1, No. 26 - 08 December 1997 -Reply
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The book Mammals of the North American Parks and Prairies has keys to all of the shrews of Montana, North Dakota and the three Prairie Provinces of Canada based upon either a specimen in hand or a skull. Sorex cinereus, S. hoyi, S. monticolus, S. arcticus and S. palustris are all covered. The book gives distribution, life histories, description and a bit on parasites of each of the species too. The reference is Pattie, D.L. and R.S.Hoffmann 1992, Mammals of the North American Parks and Prairies, 2nd ed. xvii+579pp. Published by D.L.Pattie, 10404-114 Ave., Edmonton, Alberta, T5G 0K9. It is possible to lift the lip and examine the unicuspids on both S.hoyi and S. monticolus barehanded without worry because neither of them is strong enough to penetrate finger skin with a bite.
Best regards, Don Pattie
Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Edmonton, Alberta, T5G 2R1
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3) Re: Shrews in the house / Virus alert? A reply to Richard Lehr (ST 1/26)
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Date: Tue, 09 Dec 1997 00:30:16 -0700
From: Don Pattie <donpatt@nait.ab.ca>
Subject: SHREW TALK: Vol. 1, No. 26 - 08 December 1997 -Reply
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Dear Rick: Shrews will eat practically any flesh in winter, as any fur trapper knows, but I don't know if the little shrews you are catching would ever kill an adult mouse. There is no report that I have seen implicating shrews in the carrying or transmission of Hanta virus. Shrew habits would not promote transmission to humans in the way deer mice pass along the virus.
Best Regards, Don Pattie
Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Edmonton, Alberta, T5G 2R1
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4) Trapping water shrews (Sorex palustris)
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From: "Hartman, Lisa" <LHARTMAN@fwhdept.env.gov.bc.ca>
To: Jon Planck <rjplanck@limnoterragroup.com>
Cc: "'j.benge@herts.ac.uk'" <j.benge@herts.ac.uk>, shrewbib@sorex.vienna.at
Date: Thu, 11 Dec 1997 10:47:00 -0800
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I just got your request for information on my trapping methods for water shrew (Sorex palustris brooksi - Vancouver Island, British Columbia). I have cc'd Jon Benge, who requested similar info on water shrew trap techniques in one of the last Shrewtalks, and Werner, who is interested in keeping abreast of replies. I don't remember exactly how much information I provided in the original shrewtalk note, so bear with me if I repeat myself!
The first year of my study, I set lines of 20 pitfalls along sample streams, spaced 15m apart. Because we are in a rainy part of the world (you didn't mention where you are?), I set the pitfalls about 1m away from the water's edge to reduce the chances of flooding. I ran vapour barrier drift fence (1.3m) from the pitfall to the stream edge. Using this method I caught very few water shrews. We also were running snap traps, which caught no water shrews, despite being placed closer to the water. Instead we caught large numbers of deer mice, and other non-target species, and I chose to discontinue the use of snaps.
In response to a brief submission to a newsletter for the Society of Northwestern Vertebrate Biology, before my second field season, I got very helpful information on catching water shrews from Dr. Lee Simons based on his research in northern California. He caught many (60-90+ depending on the data set) water shrews while running traplines at a range of distances from water (0,1,5,25 and 100 I believe) - almost all of which were in the 0m traps. Even traps only 1m away caught very few, and these were under unusual circumstances (changing water levels)
In Year 2 of my study we dug pitfalls into the water table at the immediate stream/land interface (e.g. within 1-2 centimetres of the water). Of course these pitfalls are vulnerable to flooding if water levels rise due to rainfall, and may therefore require quite a bit of maintenence. To keep them in place they were weighted down with a rock on one side, or the tip of a long piece of wood, which was in turn weighted down with a rock further back. I ran 1.3 m of vapour barrier drift fence from about 1 foot into the water, across the centre of the pitfall, and up the bank. We took care to surround the pitfall with very smooth, fine material from the nearby banks (like a mini-golf course). We were also running minnow traps to assess presence and relative abundance of fish in the sample streams. We caught water shrews readily in both types of traps at most of our survey sites, supporting the information provided by Lee S. that water shrews are habitat specialists and consequently require specialized trapping methods to be reliably detected.
Based on info I received from W. Roberts, of the University of Alberta, I am planning to experiment further with the minnow traps, using flotation materials, to see whether they can be used as live traps, as pitfalls are time consuming to put in, and as I mentioned, vulnerable to flooding. To date I have not tabulated by catch per unit effort for the two different types of traps.
The capture data from my two seasons is not strictly comparable, as I did not re-sample the same sites. However, Year one yielded far fewer captures, with double the effort, so I think the difference was related to trap placement. This info, and the data in Lee Simons paper (perhaps he can provide the reference to shrewtalk?), suggest that you should trap as close to the water as you can get to detect water shrews, even though the traps may require more attention.
I am not sure how much this might vary in different regions or habitats, of course. Are you doing your work in western NA? Is it part of a thesis project, or contract? If you do proceed with some water shrew work I'd very much appreciate hearing how it goes. In the meantime, best of luck!
Regards, Lisa
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5) Request: Suncus murinus ecology data
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On 10.12.97 22:07
From: Patricia Schiml (pas4n@virginia.edu)
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Hello, I work with musk shrews, Suncus murinus and was wondering if anyone would contact me with good citations for musk shrew natural ecology and density measurements. Also, if anyone knows of any good field work done on the musk shrew, I would love to hear of it.
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6) Number of mammae in shrews?
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Date: Wed, 10 Dec 1997 11:16:21 +0100
From: Martinoli Adriano <Martinol@unimi.it>
Subject: A question...
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Please, can you tell me how many mammae have this species ?
Sorex alpinus, Sorex araneus, Sorex minutus, Neomys anomalus, Neomys fodiens, Suncus etruscus, Crocidura leucodon, Crocidura suaveolens
Thank you very much
Adriano Martinoli Dipartimento di Biologia Strutturale e Funzionale III Facoltà di Scienze MM.FF.NN. - sede di Varese Via Ravasi, 2 - 21100 Varese Telephone: (0039) +332 250210 Fax (0039) +332 281308 e-mail: martinol@unimi.it Look at URL: http://imiucca.csi.unimi.it/~biolib/mimmo.html
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7) Re: Number of mammae in shrews?
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From: Werner Haberl - shrewbib@sorex.vienna.at
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Adriano, I was hoping to find this information easily in "Handbuch der Saeugetiere Europas", but there the number of teats is only stated for Sorex minutus (=6). The only other reference I had at hand quickly is: Michalak, I. - Number and distribution of teats in Neomys fodiens. Acta Theriologica 31 (9): 119-127.
Mammae are usually classified as axillary, pectoral, abdominal and inguinal. The number of teats can vary within species and the distribution can be asymmetric in individuals.
I am sorry, not to be able to retrieve more information at the moment, but I hope that others will reply. W.H.
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7) Fish as predators on shrews
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From: Werner Haberl - shrewbib@sorex.vienna.at
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I recently received information on a lake trout predating on shrews (message below).
There are a few accounts of fish predating on shrews in the literature (below). (This is certainly interesting - or at least, it always fascinated *me*). (If its not water shrews, how did the fish get it, or why did the shrews enter the water?) Of course shrews are sometimes known for their semi-aquatic habits, but...
Maybe you have heard about similar shrew/fish accounts from your colleagues; if anyone can come up with any more information of this type, I would certainly acknowledge this.
W.H.
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Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 09:42:41 -0800 (PST)
From: Jesse Ford <fordj@ucs.orst.edu>
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I am not shrewly (shrewishly?) inclined, thanks, being a paleoecologist/aquatic ecologist. Although we did find a shrew once in the stomach of a lake trout in Alaska. (Snip) The fish species was Salvelinus namaycush, and was probably quite large. It was taken from either Schrader or Peters lake, in the eastern Arctic Foothills of Alaska (north slope, Brooks Range). I'll find out the shrew species and possibly even lake trout size.
Dr. Jesse Ford Dept. Fisheries and Wildlife 104 Nash Hall Oregon State University Corvallis, OR 97331-3803 -----------------------------------------------------------------------
References (taken from: "The Shrew Bibliography"):
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2206 Hildebrand, H. 1949 Notes on an abundance of shrews (Sorex cinereus cinereus) and other small mammals in the Ungava Bay region of far northern Quebec. J. Mammalogy 30: 309-311.
2309 Huish, M.T., D.F. Hoffmeister 1947 The short-tailed shrew (Blarina) as a source of food for the green sunfish. Copeia, Ann Arbor 3: 198.
5432 Teplov, V.P. 1943 The importance of the common shrew (Sorex araneus L.) and some other mammals in the diet of the grayling (Thymallus thymallus L.). Zool. Zhurn. 22 (6): 366-368.
W.H.
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o MISCELLANEOUS
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1) Request: Educational films about shrews
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Date: Mon, 8 Dec 1997 17:33:57 -0500 (EST)
From: "Larry W. VanDruff" <lwvandru@mailbox.syr.edu>
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Werner, I teach a college course entitled "the Biology of Birds and Mammals" to about 90 students. I used to rent a 16mm film - in the Nova series(US), I believe- entitled THE INCREDIBLE SHREW. Can you tell me a source of this, preferably on VHS video?
Larry W. VanDruff, Ph.D. Prof. of Wildlife Ecology State Univ. of New York College of Enviro. Sci. & Forestry Syracuse, N. Y. 13210
tele.: 315-470-6803 (+ voice mail), FAX: 315-470-6934 e-mail: lwvandru@mailbox.syr.edu
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*Larry & others: - Sorry: I would also be interested in seeing this or at least to get the complete reference. Does anybody know about other shrew films? I would like to list them and possible sources on 'The Shrew Site' for further reference. - Werner (shrewbib@sorex.vienna.at)
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2) Shrew Folklore, Stories and Superstition
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From: Werner Haberl - shrewbib@sorex.vienna.at (Please forward this query to whoever you think would be of substantial help)
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Dear colleagues & list members,
I remember a time - that was about a year ago -, when I retrieved many answers to my query on the simple question "what is a shrew in different languages?" (Remember?). Once more, I would like to use this opportunity for a query, that is rather related to the humane sciences than to natural history:
I am currently trying to summarize what we know about shrew (Soricidae, Insectivora, Mammalia) folklore. Many legends, myths, lores, and superstitions exist about these fascinating animals..., some of which you will be aware of by the introduction to P. Crowcroft's book "The Life of the Shrew". I was wondering if anybody had any more information, references, thoughts or stories that have hitherto been passed on from word-to-mouth. For this reason I have also signed up to a Folklore-List and already received a couple of threads that should be followed.
But is there anything the natural scientists want to say? Or their grandparents, that might have stories from their forefathers/-mothers?
I am aware that I am crossing the border to the humane sciences with this query, but the many stories that exist about shrews worldwide are certainly interesting to get hold of. Most of them originate from Europe or European emigrants. What about Asia and Africa?
Did you know that: o) In China the musk shrew is known as the 'money shrew' because its chatterings are thought to resemble the jingling of coins? o) That the folklore of Newfoundland has it that shrews are a voracious and stubborn species? Stories have it that they will eat in a straight line, going through whatever is in front of them using the sharp teeth in their long snouts to cut into shoe leather, rubber tires, or whatever else is in their way. There is the claim ( = folklore) that shrews enter large animals like cows and caribou and moose through their anuses and kill them from the inside out.
Please send in whatever you might know... Any stories, references, contacts or leads you might have will be highly appreciated.
Regards, Werner
(...be sure to keep a dead shrew or at least a photo of one in your pocket, next time you go out into the woods for field work...)
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Just to get you started:
"...The temper is indoubtably the most remarkable feature of folk opinions of the shrew. This belief is entangled in a large complex of beliefs which are usually assigned to certain large butterfly larvae, the ones with a hook in the rear. In the Scandinavian languages they are called Omme, Aeve, Blaesworm, Grundorm, Kvolster and a few more names. They are extremely poisonous; if an arm is bitten or just breathed upon it will come off, etc. Several odd cures are told of in the sources. If a cow is bitten in the tongue you should cut off the tip of the tongue, etc. This whole complex of folk beliefs is attached also to the shrew (and sometimes to the fresh water lamprey). However, it is only the shrew which was believed to be able to do harm just by running over a foot. The making of a "shrew ash" is also part of the complex of beliefs attached to the large butterfly larvae; in folk beliefs these are thought to have special affinity to ash trees; the accounts of how children died from a Blaesworm-bite often let the beast live in ash trees. There is no similar affinity between shrews and ashes, so the idea of "shrew ashes" may be secondary...." (Information from L. Hemmingsen, Dept. of Folklore, Univ. of Copenhagen) -----------------------------------------------------------------------
BTW: Does anybody have an *English* version of K. Lorenz, King Solomon's Ring and could either scan & e-mail or fax me a copy of the shrew pages? - W.H.
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o SHREW BIBLIOGRAPHY: New Papers
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“The Shrew Bibliography” is a collection of more than 6000 references to research on the biology of the Soricidae (Insectivora, Mammalia) and small mammal ecology. More info: http://members.vienna.at/shrew/shrewbib.html
To announce your new research papers/books, please follow the instructions (separate fields with the character "#"): Author(s)#Year#Title#Journal&Page No.#Abstract#Keywords#Address *I* would appreciate receiving a reprint of your paper and/or a list of your publications to add to the bibliography. _______________________________________________________________________
1) Cawsey, P.A. 1991: Shrews on moorland
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From: ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF WALES The Welsh Mountain Zoo Colwyn Bay Bae Colwyn North Wales Gogledd Cymru E-mail: welshmountainzoo@enterprise.net Date: 08 - 12 - 97
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Dear Dr. Haberl, Please find enclosed details regarding my thesis concerning shrews on moorland. I must point out that it was for an undergraduate degree back in 1991, and has not been published.
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CAWSEY,P.,A., 1991, The distribution, movements and diets of shrews inhabiting moorland. Unpublished BSc degree Thesis.
The diets and distribution of Pygmy shrews (Sorex minutus) and Common shrews (Sorex araneus) inhabiting moorland in Northumberland were investigated by pit fall trapping, gut analysis and vegetation surveys. The contribution of major plant life and its structural profile was assessed to see if it affects the distribution of the mammals. The data was taken to investigate two main Hypotheses; 1. Vegetation influences the distribution of shrews on moorland 2. Distribution is influenced by the diets of the shrews. In analysing the data it was found that S minutus was more common in areas of tall vegetation whereas S. araneus showed no marked preference for vegetation height.. In regards to dietary analysis, twelve invertebrate taxa were found. Similarity index was 0.65, thereby showing a slight overlap in the diets. S. minutus also showed a preference for smaller prey items such as Opiliones.
In summation, it seems that the spatial distribution of the two shrew species is predominately determined by the vegetation characteristics of the site, rather than food though no comparison with the spatial distribution of prey was undertaken. Therefore it would not be possible to positively state that the vegetation characteristics were more important in determining distribution, than food availability.
References:
BUTTERFIELD,J., COULSON,J.,C. & WANLESS, S. 1981. Studies on the distribution, food, breeding. Biology and relative abundance of the pygmy and common shrews in upland areas of Northern England. J.Zool. 195: 169 - 180 CHINERY,M. 1986. Insects of Britain and Europe. London. Collins
CHURCHFIELD, S. 1982. Food availability and the diet of the common shrew,,@orex araneus, in Britain. J.An. Ecol. 51: 15 - 28
CHURCHFIELD, S. & BROWN,U.,K. 1987. The trophic impact of small mammals in successional grasslands. J.Lin Soc. 31: 273 -290
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Yours sincerely
Paul Cawsey, BSc, PGCE Education Officer Zoological Society of Wales
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2) Frafjord, K. et. al. 1994 / 1995: Norwegian shrews
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Karl Frafjord sent in reprints of 2 papers. Thank you! (WH) -----------------------------------------------------------------------
Frafjord, K., Fredriksen, T. & Langhelle, G. 1994. Regional variation in the size of the common shrew Sorex araneus in Norway. Fauna norv. Ser. A 15: 1-8.
We analyzed variation related to region, age, and sex in the length and height of the mandible of the common shrew Sorex araneus in Norway (n = 261), with some notes on the length of the tail and on the body weight. Specimens were classified by four age groups according to their date of capture, tooth wear, and reproductive status. Shrews from Finnmark (northernmost Norway) were about 3 % smaller in the two mandible dimensions than shrews from Hordaland (southern Norway), while only minor or no differences were found between the two major samples from Hordaland. Juveniles were, on average, 2-3 % smaller than overwintered adults. In no measurements were males larger than females, but statistical significant sexual dimorphism was found only in body weight. A general deterioration of the climate and habitat quality may be found with increasing latitude, but local gradients (e.g. lowland towards alpine regions) could be equally important for the size of the common shrew.
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Karl Frafjord, University of Tromso, Tromso Museum, Lars Thoringsv. 10, N-9006 Tromso, Norway. Tore Fredriksen & Gunnar Langhelle, Museum of Zoology, University of Bergen, Musdplass 3, N-5007 Bergen, Norway.
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Frafjord, K. 1995: A new record of the least shrew Sorex minutissimus in Norway. Fauna 49: 59-6 1. (Norwegian, Engl. summary)
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One least shrew Sorex minutissimus was caight in Dividalen, Troms county, on 4 August, 1995. This is the first record of this species in Northern Norway, previously only about ten specimens have been found in south Norway. The least shrew measured 71 mm in total length and 31 mm in tail length, weighing 1,9 g. It was caught at a humid site in birch forest, about 200 m a.s.l., representing 0,4% of the total catch of shrews in Dividalen in 1995. The trap was a wire mesh cage (Ugglan Special).
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o WHAT'S NEW ON THE SHREW (ist's) SITE?
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http://members.vienna.at/shrew
o Last Update: October 1997
o Number of Visitors (Date: 14 December 1997): >5380
o Number of "Shrewists on E-mail": >169 (registered on the website)
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1. New Shrewists on e-mail (http://members.vienna.at/shrew/shrewemail.html):
Rainer Hutterer, Chair IUCN/SSC/ITSES, Museum Alexander Koenig, Bonn, Germany
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Karl Frafjord, University of Tromso, Tromso Museum, Norway ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Stephen D. Petersen, Field Biologist, University of Alberta Museum of Zoology, Canada ----------------------------------------------------------------------
R. Jon Planck, President, Limnoterra Limited, Ontario, Canada ----------------------------------------------------------------------
James G. MacCracken, Wildlife Biologist, Longview, Washington, USA ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Monica Folk, Research Biologist, The Nature Conservancy, Florida, USA ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Richard Kraft, Mammal Curator, Zoologische Staatssammlung Muenchen, Germany ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Jon Benge, Dept. of Environmental Studies, University of Hertfordshire, UK ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Juha-Pekka Hirvi, Ecotoxicology, Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Patricia A. Schiml, Postdoctoral Fellow, Biology Department, University of Virginia, USA
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o SHREW TALK INSTRUCTIONS
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TO POST TO THE GROUP
All replies to the Shrew Talk inquiries should be posted to the group. However, if you prefer to reply to someone personally, *I* would appreciate receiving a copy of the mail (Cc or Bcc) and/or a summary of the "outcome".
Reply to shrewbib@sorex.vienna.at - include the words "Shrew Talk" in the subject line.
SHREW TALK is archived and back issues can be read at: http://members.vienna.at/shrew/shrewtalk.html
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Dr. Werner Haberl Editor, SHREW TALK (http://members.vienna.at/shrew/shrewtalk.html) Hamburgerstr. 11, A-1050 Vienna, Austria
Email: shrewbib@sorex.vienna.at URL: http://members.vienna.at/shrew (The Shrew (ist's) Site)
The Shrew Bibliography (> 6000 references) (available on CD ROM) ==================================================================


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Dr. Werner Haberl. Address: Hamburgerstrasse 11, A-1050 Vienna, Austria.
E-mail: shrewbib@sorex.vienna.at
URL: http://members.vienna.at/shrew