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Shrew Talk

"SHREW TALK" - Vol. 2, No. 9- 19 May 1998

SHREW TALK - 19 May 1998 - Vol. 2, No. 09
Number of Recipients: > 365
Contents of this Issue
o Research
1. Small mammal live traps: Replies
1a. Ugglan Special I
1b. Ugglan Special II
2. Shrews and Dioxin
3. Shrews and Insecticides
4. Parasitology: Siphonaptera sytematics
4a. Flea Specimans for DNA analysis I
4b. Flea Specimans for DNA analysis II
4c. Guidelines / methods for collecting fleas
o Introductions
1. Michael D. Beatey: Behavioral ecology and population biology
2. WWF Greece - Dadia project
3. British Mammal Society
o What's New on the Shrew (ist's) Site
o Shrew Talk Instructions
1a) Re: Ugglan Special I
Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 13:02:56 +0200
From: "Karl Frafjord" <karlf@imv.uit.no>
I'm using the Ugglan Special trap to catch shrews and voles, and it is very succesful for most species. It is notably efficient in capturing Sorex araneus. Although I have captured both S. minutus and S. minutissimus (one specimen, 1.9 g), the trap may be relatively less efficient for those species, but I doubt that another box trap is more successful. Depending on your study you may have to use pit-fall traps as well?
I normally pre-bait traps for a few days, leaving the back door open so that the animals are free to enter and leave the trap. I regularly use dog feed and a seed mixture, both are readily consumed but the trap works also with no bait. I have also used salted peanuts as bait (beware of sheep!). The apperture of the entrance may possibly be adjusted, reducing its size will prevent larger species (e.g. voles) from entering the trap. I have not tried this myself. The traps are a little awkward to carry, I use a large plastic bag to transport them into the field. If you are using a back-pack it can be destroyed due to the sharp edges of the trap.
The floor of the trap can be removed for cleaning. The glossy roof make the trap easy to relocate, you can bend out its downward edges to prevent flooding the trap in rain. I have had some traps destroyed because they get trampled by large mammals, but usually manage to get them to work again.
Karl Frafjord Tel. (+47) 77 64 50 00 Tromsø Museum Fax (+47) 77 64 55 20 University of Tromsø N-9037 Tromsø, Norway e-mail: karlf@imv.uit.no http://www.imv.uit.no/homepage.htm _______________________________________________________________________
1b) Re: Ugglan Special II
Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 12:38:09 -0500
From: Brent Danielson <jessie@iastate.edu>
Like Heikki Henttonen, I have used Ugglans (in Norway) and Shermans, and much prefer the Ugglans except for the difficulty in carrying Ugglans (some of my research involves extensive numbers of transects that require lots of hauling and restetting of traps).
However, I have never been able to get Ugglans in the USA. In 1992, I tried to buy 400-500 of them, direct from the company, but they would not ship them here. In fact, they were pretty disinterested in the whole idea, and they would not tell me of any distributors on this side of the pond, so I bought Shermans and now have thousands of them.
If Ugglans can be purchased in the US, I'd sure like to hear the details of how, where, and exactly how much (inc trans-atlantic shipping, import taxes, and the whole mess).
thanks, Brent
Brent Danielson: E Mailto:Brent@iastate.edu, Dept. Animal Ecology, 124 Science II, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011 (515) 294-5248 http://www.public.iastate.edu/~codi/
2) Shrews and Dioxin
Date: Fri, 03 Apr 1998 09:05:41 -0500
From: Steve Clough <sclough@tufts.edu>
A recent article in the journal "Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry" addressed the risk of soils contaminated with paper mill sludge (purportedly containing dioxin) to wildlife (Vol. 16, No. 9, p. 1789-1801). The article concluded that shrews would be at high risk if pulp mill sludge were applied to land as fertilizer. Are you aware of any information generated from field studies that used shrews as a biological indicator of soil toxicity, esp. with regard to chlorinated organics? Thanks ahead of time for any help you can give me.
Stephen R. Clough, Ph.D., DABT National Council for Air and Stream Improvement Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Tufts University P.O. Box 53015 Medford, MA 02153-0015 sclough@tufts.edu
3) Shrews and Insecticides
Date: Mon, 06 Apr 1998 10:02:20 -0400
From: Steve Sheffield <sshffld@CLEMSON.EDU>
I saw your email message on Mammal-L regarding shrews and insecticides, and as I know something about this, thought that I would get back to you. Currently, there is very little data on exposure and effects of pesticides on shrews. The only work that I know of is out of Richard Shore's lab in the UK. There, Dell'Omo and coworkers looked at sublethal exposure and effects of the organophosphate (OP) insecticide dimethoate in the common shrew (Sorex araneus). They published two papers that I know of, including:
(1) Dell'Omo G, Shore RF, Fishwick SK. 1996. The relationships between brain, serum, and whole blood ChE activity in the wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus) and the common shrew (Sorex arareus) after acute sublethal exposure to dimethoate. Biomarkers 1:202-207.
(2) Dell'Omo G, Bryentoin R, Shore RF. 1997. Effects of exposure to an organophosphate pesticide on behavior and acetylcholinesterase activity in the common shrew, Sorex araneus. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 16:272-276.
There are a few other papers that deal with shrews and environmental contaminants (metals and organochlorine insecticides), and the ones that I know of are as follows:
(1) Beyer, W.N., O.H. Pattee, L. Sileo, D.J. Hoffman, and B.M. Mulhern. 1985. Metal contamination in wildlife living near two zinc smelters. Environ. Pollut., 38:63-86.
(2) Blus, L.J. 1978. Short-tailed shrews: toxicity and residue relationships of DDT, dieldrin and endrin. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol., 7:83-98.
(3) Braham, H.W., and C.M. Neal. 1974. The effects of DDT on energetics of the short-tailed shrew, Blarina brevicauda. Bull. Environ. Contam. Toxicol., 12:32-37.
(4) Dodds-Smith, M.E., M.S. Johnson, and D.J. Thompson. 1992. Trace metal accumulation by the shrew Sorex araneus. Ecotoxicol. Environ. Safety, 24:102-117.
(5) Forsyth, D.J., and T.J. Peterle. 1973. Accumulation of chlorine-36 ring-labeled DDT residues in various tissues of two species of shrew. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol., 1:1-17.
(6) Hendriks, A.J., W.-C. Ma, J.J. Brouns, E.M. DeRuiter-Dijkman, and R. Gast. 1995. Modelling and monitoring organochlorine and heavy metal accumulation in soils, earthworms and shrews in Rhine-delta floodplains. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol., 29:115-127.
(7) Ma, W. 1989. Effect of soil pollution with metallic lead pellets on lead bioaccumulation and organ/body weight alterations in small mammals. Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol., 18:617-622.
(8) Talmage, S.S., and B.T. Walton. 1993. Food chain transfer and potential renal toxicity of mercury to small mammals at a contaminated terrestrial field site. Ecotoxicol. 2:243-256.
As far as I know, that is the extent of the work that has been published to date. One other thing that I should mention is that folks at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD are working with a very small colony of shrews (Blarina brevicauda) to look at effects of contaminants, but they are exposing them to PCBs and not insecticides. Also, I am waiting for the health screens to be completed on a large colony of Cryptotis parva that I will maintain here at Clemson University. I will be driving up to the EPA lab in Cincinnati to pick these animals up in the next month. I will be doing a lot of pesticide work with these animals (particularly cholinesterase-inhibiting insecticides). Well, I hope that this helps you out some. Let me know if you have specific questions that I might help you with regarding shrews and insecticides.
Regards, Steve
Steven R. Sheffield, Ph.D. Assistant Professor
Department of Environmental Toxicology The Institute of Wildlife and Environmental Toxicology Clemson University P.O. Box 709, One TIWET Dr. Pendleton, SC 29670 USA T (864) 646-2235, FAX -2277
4a) Flea Specimans for DNA Analysis I
(Mails snipped and rearranged by WH) (Michael, I hope this is OK?)
Date: Sat, 25 Apr 1998 20:22:00 -0600
Date: Sun, 17 May 1998 17:26:41 -0600
From: "michael w. hastriter" <hastritermw@sprintmail.com>
As I was perusing a listing of mammalogists on the internet, I came across your name and e-mail address. Flea systematics is my specialty and I would like to obtain fleas from shrews for DNA analysis. The current systematic scheme for the Order Siphonaptera (fleas) is based completely on morphological relationships. DNA analysis is substantiating this "artificial" system in most cases, but not in others.
I am extremely interested in fleas from multiple genera of shrews from any where in the world. African Macroscelididae are a most interesting group, undoubtedly with numerous undescribed species of fleas. If anyone is working specifically on this group and with nests of shrew, I would be very interested. Nests are an "untapped" source of flea species obtainable in no other way.
If you can provide any fleas at all from your region (from any small mammalian host) they may be usable for our DNA study. We are preparing a grant proposal and need as many genera of fleas as we can obtain on a global basis. The proposal is due on or before 15 June 98. We must demonstrate to the reviewers that we can obtain the necessary fleas to complete the work and will include (in our proposal) letters from scientists around the world that would be willing to collect fleas in conjunction with their normal work with mammals. Could you please send a simple letter stating that you work with mammals and would be willing to collect fleas for our DNA study?
Thanks for your help and I will look forward to your letter of support if you can obtain fleas during your work with shrews or other small mammals.
Please address the letter of support to: National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room P60, Arlington, VA 22230, USA and send to: Dr. Michael Whiting, Assistant Professor and Curator, Department of Zoology, 574 Widsoe Building, Provo, UT 84602, Telephone: (801) 378-5651, Fax: (801) 378-7423.
Fleas may me submitted to: Michael W. Hastriter, Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, 290 MLBM, P.O. Box 20200, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602, U.S.A.
Contributors donating fleas for DNA analysis will be credited in acknowledgments and any publishable systematic works will be considered as co-authors. Collectors need more recognition than they usually are afforded.
Michael W. Hastriter
Medical Entomologist Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, 290 MLBM, P.O. Box 20200 Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602, U.S.A.
4b) Flea Specimans for DNA Analysis II
Date: Thu, 07 May 1998 15:36:28 -0600
From: Michael Whiting <Michael_Whiting@byu.edu>
By way of introduction, I am a systematic entomologist who specializes in the molecular phylogenetics of Mecopteroid insects. I have teamed up with Bob Lewis at Iowa State and Michael Hastriter at Brigham Young University, both world-renowned flea specialists, to study the phylogeny of fleas at the familial and generic level using DNA sequence data. My lab has been actively sequencing flea DNA for the past two years, and the preliminary data are very exciting and have convinced us that this is a useful and important approach towards understanding flea evolution.
We are seeking persons who routinely work with mammals (primarily small mammals) while performing biomedical disease assessments, studying biodiversity, etc., that would be willing to collect fleas for this important work. Fleas which are stored in 100% ETOH work very well for sequencing, and we would be able to provide the required vials of alcohol, shipping labels and containers, and payment of shipping costs. We can also provide a small gratuity to help defray collecting expenses for anyone interested in supporting these efforts. I am spearheading a grant proposal to NSF (June 15 deadline) to do a complete survey of the major flea groups of the world. Part of the proposal will include letters of support, indicating the willingness of our colleagues to provide specimens. If you would feel comfortable writing a letter for us, we would be grateful and would like to start compiling these as soon as possible. The letters simply need to indicate your support for our efforts, and that you would be willing to provide us with specimens from your part of the world. The letter should be addressed to: National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd. Room P60, Arlington, VA 22230, USA but should be sent directly to us by fax (preferred), e-mail, or directly sent to my address below.
Thank you for your support. I truly hope that by working together, we can significantly push forward flea systematics, provide the basis for future host-parasite studies, and help attract more students into this exciting field.
Cheers, Michael Whiting
Michael F. Whiting
Phone: (801) 378-5651 Assistant Professor and Curator Department of Zoology, 574 Widtsoe Bldg. Fax: (801) 378-7423 Brigham Young University Provo, UT 84602 USA
4c) Guidelines / methods for collecting fleas:
There are several methods of gathering fleas from small mammals (including shrews). Fleas generally leave the host animal rather quickly when the animal dies or when disturbed. I place animals (hopefully alive) into white cloth bags (one animal/bag...not to mix species or sexes of same species) or small brown paper lunch bags. I generally sacrifice the animals for museum collections, thus I squeeze the back/thorax between thumb and forefinger. This kills the animal quickly and does not destroy the skull for ID purposes/study skins. This is done through the bag. Fleas will become agitated and jump off the host sometimes and can be found inside the bag. Then examine the animal by placing down in a white bucket while stroking the animals fur. This will further agitate the fleas causing them to jump off and can be picked up with a moistens broom straw, applicator stick (sharpened to a point), camel hair brush, etc. Try to avoid picking up with tweezers, as this may damage flea for systematic purposes. Place directly in 70% ethyl alcohol (other types of alcohol may damage DNA and/or make specimens preparation more difficult). 95% ethanol is best for DNA work, but it "fixes" tissues sufficiently to render them difficult to clear (for voucher specimens and correlated systematic work) and we find that 70% works well for DNA analysis...if conducted within a couple of years of preservation.
Another very good method is to transfer the animals directly from the trap into a bag, kill the animal, and place in a liter or gallon jar (depending on animals size) half filled with tap water. Shake briskly, remove animal, and quickly pour contents into white pan/bucket and look for fleas (they usually float, but not always). I find that this process yeilds no fleas after the third wash. I use a magnifying glass to look for the fleas. They are put directly into vials of alcohol.
Blowing on the animals fur will excite the fleas from the CO2 in the breath causing them to jump off the host (also done over a white bucket...white to see fleas better). This is a dangerous practice however, since doing so may subject the collector to hantavirus. I personally carry a 15-20 pound cylinder of compressed CO2, equipped with a long hose with flange on the end. This facilitates a distributed flow of CO2 over the animal, while holding it below the top level of a bucket. This also allows the collector to hold the animal by the nap of the neck without sacrificing the animal if the animal is to be released unharmed.
I always assign each animal a separate collection number, and record the locality (city, county, department, state, province, country, etc...grid coordinates are very useful if known), date collected, host species, host sex, and name of collector. Place all fleas from a single host in ONE vial, those from another host in a second vial, etc.
Shipping vials must be done in accordance with your local postal service regulations. We always include a customs declaration tag that in effect states: "Dead Insects for Scientific Study, of No Commercial Value". I may note that specimens shipped from the British Museum to the U.S. have similar labels. If vials have rubber seals, they will not leak. If they are screw cap vials without rubber seals, they should be taped to prevent leakage. Host/locality collection data should accompany shipped specimens. Specimens without such data are rather useless.
I hope this information is helpful. The probablilities of excellent collaborative efforts is exciting.
Michael W. Hastriter
Medical Entomologist Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, 290 MLBM, P.O. Box 20200 Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602, U.S.A.
1) Michael D. Beatey: Behavioral ecology and population biology
Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 12:49:41 -0400
From: mbeatey@Bledsoe.net
Organization: Tennessee Aquarium
I am delighted to find this resource! After many years of intrest in the Insectivora, and especially the soricidae, I had come to feel an orphan, having to scrounge resources and discussion wherever I could. I am most interested in the internet conference! My primary research interests are the behavioral ecology and population biology of shrews. My specific intrests are the temporal variations in habitat utilization, population cycles and variation, and habitat partitioning among sympatric shrew species here in the southern Appalachian region of North America, but there is nothing about these wonderful little animals that does not pique my interest! This is my e-mail at the lab. My home e-mail (which I would also like to include in your shrew talk list if possible) is mbeatey@Bledsoe.net. Again, I am thrilled beyond expressing to find this forum!
Michael D. Beatey
The Tennessee Aquarium Chattanooga, TN USA 37401 or RR 2 Box 314 Pikeville, TN USA 37367
2) WWF Greece - Dadia project
Date: Sat, 21 Mar 1998 03:13:13 +0200
From: WWF Greece - Dadia project <ecodadia@otenet.gr>
We are from Greece, and we have been involved in a WWF project in Dadia forest from 1992, where there is a famous breeding area for more than 20 different species of raptors, among these the last remnant Black vulture population in Balkan, and also for many small mammals in big densities. Our main targets from project are the study and monitoring of the population of raptors, the conservation of the habitat and the ecotouristic development in the area.
Kostas Poirazidis Forester
3) British Mammal Society
Date: Thu, 30 Apr 1998 17:51:06 +0100
Organization: Aberdeen University
I am the vice chairman of the British Mammal Society and I also as as keeper of our web site. I have taken the liberty of adding a link to your excellent Shrew Site from our web pages. If you would be so kind we would be grateful for link to our site which contains much of interest for mammalogists in general and we do have pages on shrews.
Our pages are mounted at 2 identical sites:
http://www.abdn.ac.uk/mammal or http://www.mammal.org.uk
Thank you Martyn Gorman
o Last Update: 8 January 1998
o Number of Visitors (Date: 17 May 1998): >8406
o Number of "Shrewists on E-mail": >210 (registered on the website)
o Number of recipients: >365

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