How the Personalities of Small Mammals Shape the Growth of Forests – with Maisie Merz and Ivy Yen – Tuesday, October 24th – In-person and via Zoom

An entertaining exploration of the role that small mammals play in forest regeneration and the movement of trees in Maine. We all know our cats and dogs have personalities, but have you ever wondered about the squirrels in your backyard? How would you even go about evaluating personality traits in squirrels, mice, or voles and why would you bother?

These small mammals play an important but often unseen role in forest regeneration and the movement of trees, dispersing the seeds of the towering forests here in Maine. While this role is known at the species level, unique individuals display varying personalities, with some consistently acting more boldly than others or consistently showing higher activity levels. Personality in the mice and voles of our forests has consequences for where small mammals are living, how they are foraging, and what they are doing with the seeds they find. Small mammals with contrasting personality traits are contributing to ecosystem services such as seed dispersal in different ways. Their behavior is influencing forest regeneration.

Land-use change, such as forest management or urbanization, and climate change are also at work altering the composition of forests and the distribution of personality traits within populations. We explore the intersection of these factors and investigate how the personalities of small mammals shape the growth of forests and how this may be shifting under changing land-use and climate change conditions. All this in turn affects the habitat and impacts birds and all other life in the forest.

On Tuesday, Octoberber 24th, at 7 p.m., York County Audubon is pleased to host Maisie Merz and Ivy Yen, second year PhD students at the University of Maine. Under the guidance of Dr. Alessio Mortelliti, they study the consequences of small mammal personality on several ecological processes that shape the forest landscape. Their presentation includes slides and night video that is entertaining, educational, and surprising!  It will be interesting and fun to learn about mammals we rarely see much less understand.

This program will be presented in-person in the Mather Auditorium of the Wells Reserve at Laudholm, and will also be viewable via Zoom.  To view via Zoom, you’ll need to register in advance.  To do so, please click on this link and enter your name and email address:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

We hope you can join us in-person, or, if not, via Zoom!

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