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Research Question 2|Wildlife Ecology in San Guillermo National Park

Research Goal:

The goal of this study is to determine how many newborn vicuna survive to their first birthday. This will describe mortality patterns of newborn vicuna during the first year of life.


Research Questions:

  1. What percentage of newborn vicunas survive their first year of life?

  2. What is the main cause of mortality for newborn vicunas during their first year of life?


Hypothesis and Predictions:

Unlike the previous activity, Emiliano did not make a hypothesis before he began this study. His goal is to describe mortality patterns without any comparison to another group of newborn vicuna. These types of predictive, observational studies are common in ecology when nothing is known about the animals (or plants or microbes) under study.


Research Methods:

Step 1. Define what is being measured.
To evaluate the survival rates of new born vicunas during their first year of life, Emiliano and his team tracked newborn vicuna to see how many survived to their first birthday.

Step 2. Define how survival is measured.
First Emiliano and his team fit newborn vicuna with radio transmitters. (Watch the video National Geographic video created from Emiliano's footage.)

The team observed vicuna with binoculars

Emiliano and his team observed the vicunas with binoculars

until they detected a female giving birth

 . . .until they detected one giving birth.

they carefully approached the newborn

They carefully approached the newborn

captured it and fit it with a transmitter

. . .captured it and fit it with a transmitter.
(Can you see it on its ear?)

The mom returned to claim it

Then they moved away and the mother returned.
(Notice the droopy ear?)

Notice the tags

Can you see the transmitters on these babies' ears?


For the next year, Emiliano and his team used antennas to monitor the signals from the baby vicuna’s transmitters. (Watch the video from the link in "Extras".)

Researchers tracked the newborns during their first year

 

Every time they found a dead baby vicuna, they recorded the day and attempted to figure out what had killed it, just like detectives. 

To determine if a puma was responsible for killing a newborn, Emiliano looked for puma tracks and evidence of puma teeth punctures in newborns’ hides.

Emiliano examines a dead baby vicuna to determine cause of its death.
He finds a puma track
and puma tooth marks

Cause of death: puma!

Collect, Analyze and Summarize Your Data

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