Displaying items by tag: mammals

What was it like to be a Research and Community Science intern at the Urban Ecology Center?

Where do I even start? I met a lot of passionate people and did several interesting animal surveys. If you stopped by any of the Urban Ecology Center (UEC) branches during the summer, you probably found three young adults with clipboards in hand and backpacks strapped tight walking through the parks. Depending on what time of the summer you came, we either looked slightly confused or highly confident (I am happy to say that the latter was at the end of the summer).

Wednesday, 10 October 2018 15:38

A gift of an American Beaver skeleton

Late last February, we received an email from a community member about a beaver found dead in Riverside Park. This news was especially disheartening to us considering the near celebrity status the Milwaukee River Greenway beaver couple had gained not only publicly, but amongst staff. We had watched the activities of the beavers in Riverside Park for nearly five years and enjoyed hearing the stories from other staff and community members about their encounters.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018 16:01

Secret Lives

As I look longingly over the Menomonee Valley river basin currently radiating with spring promise, I am reminded of last week’s bitter rain and our dashed hopes of seeing the season's first Red-winged Blackbird. But spring’s sweet whispers delivered on the high note of a cardinal’s song today again brought hope that spring was still on its way.

But, what if we weren’t driven by hope but by some kind of undeniable intuition or reverberating internal awareness? How does a wild animal adapt during an unpredictable Wisconsin winter?

Thursday, 27 July 2017 10:15

A New Inhabitant In Riverside Park

Occasionally the Research and Community Science team has a find so cool that we can’t stop ourselves from sharing it. Back in 2006 I started a mammal monitoring project at Riverside Park to document the park’s population, and recently we recorded the most glorious find I have ever experienced at the UEC!

Our habitat restoration efforts and research projects really go hand-in-hand. As we restore the land, we discover more and more mammals, birds, insects and amphibians using our parks. Our studies also help to determine the number of native plant species we’ve added that have “taken root” and are continuing to grow. Here are just a few highlights you can find.

Thursday, 20 October 2011 10:43

Mammal Research

The Center’s mammal monitoring program was piloted in 2005 and uses visual surveys, live trapping and camera surveillance to monitor presence/absence and population trends. Large diurnal mammals are identified through visual surveys, while field cameras are employed to document similar-sized nocturnal mammals. Sherman folding traps and pitfall traps are used to identify small nocturnal mammals.

We study the population trends and presence of small mammal species in our parks using live trapping and mark-recapture methods over the course of two or three consecutive mornings, multiple times throughout the summer field season. Filmed here is our Menomonee Valley branch in 2019.

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Current and past research studies borne from this project include a nest box study, a scent comparison study and a predatory exclosure study. Mammal monitoring runs from June – August and welcomes curious community members to the project.

beaver activity
Walk through Riverside Park with Wisconsin DNR biologist Dianne Robinson to assess beaver activity. Photo: Jessica Orlando

RP Beavers BruceHalmo
The beaver (Castor canadensisis) has made a return to Riverside Park in the last few years. Photo: Bruce Halmo

Besides beavers, there have been river otter sightings downtown along the Milwaukee River, beginning winter 2019. We also had a sighting on the west bank of the river right across from the UEC. It will be interesting to see if otter sightings become more frequent as water quality and quality of habitat improves along the Milwaukee River.

The Urban Ecology Center’s mammal research has received valuable funding from:

  • The Citizen-based Monitoring Network of Wisconsin’s Partnership Program
  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lake’s Restoration Initiative


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