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Faculty Mentor(s)

Jessica Patterson

Campus

Dahlonega

Proposal Type

Poster

Subject Area

Biology

Location

Poster Session

Start Date

26-3-2021 12:00 PM

End Date

26-3-2021 1:00 PM

Description/Abstract

Vertebrate scavengers are a fundamental part in the nutrient cycling processes that drive unique ecological systems in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Scavengers are secondary consumers that ingest decaying biomass, thereby reintroducing vital nutrients back into the ecosystem. Animals such as opossums (Didelphis virginiana), coyotes (Canus latrans), turkey vultures (Cathartes aura), and raccoons (Procyon lotor) are all common dwellers of the north Georgia mountains and their comparative scavenging abilities have not yet been studied extensively. In this study we will be placing carrion of different species at specific locations on a 450+ acre private property that borders the southern portion of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Game cameras will be placed at each location to monitor scavenger activity. Data collected will include the number of days carrion remains uneaten, the species that feed off of the carcass, carcass drop-off location (e.g. GPS coordinates, habitat type, etc.), the average number of scavenger species, and individuals within that species, that feed on each carrion sample. To date, we have placed an opossum and a mature doe carcass at the site and have seen substantial scavenging activity, mainly comprised of coyotes and opossums. Our goal in the initial stage of this study is aimed towards the further understanding of resident scavenger-carrion dynamics and the prospective ways these interactions affect the Appalachian forest community. We hope this study will provide resolution to gaps in data related to the importance of individual scavenger species and their impact on local ecology.

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Mar 26th, 12:00 PM Mar 26th, 1:00 PM

05. Assessing scavenging dynamics in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

Poster Session

Vertebrate scavengers are a fundamental part in the nutrient cycling processes that drive unique ecological systems in the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Scavengers are secondary consumers that ingest decaying biomass, thereby reintroducing vital nutrients back into the ecosystem. Animals such as opossums (Didelphis virginiana), coyotes (Canus latrans), turkey vultures (Cathartes aura), and raccoons (Procyon lotor) are all common dwellers of the north Georgia mountains and their comparative scavenging abilities have not yet been studied extensively. In this study we will be placing carrion of different species at specific locations on a 450+ acre private property that borders the southern portion of the Chattahoochee National Forest. Game cameras will be placed at each location to monitor scavenger activity. Data collected will include the number of days carrion remains uneaten, the species that feed off of the carcass, carcass drop-off location (e.g. GPS coordinates, habitat type, etc.), the average number of scavenger species, and individuals within that species, that feed on each carrion sample. To date, we have placed an opossum and a mature doe carcass at the site and have seen substantial scavenging activity, mainly comprised of coyotes and opossums. Our goal in the initial stage of this study is aimed towards the further understanding of resident scavenger-carrion dynamics and the prospective ways these interactions affect the Appalachian forest community. We hope this study will provide resolution to gaps in data related to the importance of individual scavenger species and their impact on local ecology.