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Graduating Science Student Studies Wildlife Exposed to Rodenticides

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One of the most pressing problems in urban wildlife ecology is how wild carnivores like coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions are exposed to rodenticides. For her undergraduate research project, Gabriela Guzman, a biological science major, used remotely triggered digital cameras to examine the fate of rat carcasses placed in natural areas in Orange and Los Angeles counties to simulate what might happen when a poisoned rat dies away from cover and is discovered by a scavenger.

Her project was built upon a study by a previous environmental studies graduate student who monitored the fates of rat carcasses in suburban yards. She found that rat carcasses were discovered quickly and that more than two-thirds were eaten within seven days, with opossums eating the most carcasses.

Gabriela’s project required her to conduct field work during the pandemic lockdown, a challenge that she met with hard work, a good sense of humor and a strong stomach. She reported her results in a recent paper in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics’ undergraduate research journal Dimensions. 

— Submitted by Paul Stapp, professor of biological science 

Debra Cano Ramos