In order for Julie to find out whether female tuco-tucos are stressed out more in groups or if they live alone, she needed to move her study. Now she’s in the Puna, a high, mountainous region, over 12,000 feet above a town called Jujuy (sounds like hoo-hoo-ee), where tuco-tucos do not live in groups the way they do in Patagonia.
Here’s what Julie says:
For now, I will tell you a bit more about these past weeks in the field. Besides catching tuco-tucos, we have also conducted a transect survey to learn more about the habitat of tuco-tucos and how many live in this area.
(These are challenging ideas! Get ready!)
A transect is a line. We made 6 lines, or transects, in this study area. Each covered about 2 km. With the GPS, we marked each time the habitat changed from malline (or meadow) to a mixed type of vegetation to steppe (or grasslands without shrubs). Then, anytime we found tuco-tuco holes, we marked it with the GPS and noted if it was a meadow, a mixed vegetation or grasslands without shrubs. We also noted where it was located and if the holes looked like they were being used by the tuco-tucos.
Photo Credit: Julie Woodruff
This is Mauro, an Argentine student who has been studying the different kinds of vegetation that tuco-tucos like to eat. He also counts tuco-tuco holes and mounds (or diggings) each morning to see if it’s the same number of holes as the number of animals we have seen living in the colony. If this works, then we might have a quick way of figuring out how many tuco-tucos live here.
Julie’s STEM Challenge: What do you think? Who is more stressed, females living alone or females living in groups? I’ll tell you what I have been finding out next week.
Write out UR answer below and have a chance to win a STEM t-shirt!