Our Mammalogy class ran an experiment in and around Itasca State Park to test whether prairie or forest habitats supported a more diverse small mammal population. We set traps on several grids in the forest and on the prairie. The traps were checked for three consecutive days. We found that while the forest traps caught more individuals, the prairie traps captured a more diverse group of species.
Minnesota lays on three biomes. The prairie, deciduous forests and coniferous forests all come together in and around Itasca State Park, Clearwater County, Minnesota. As a result, it is a convenient and interesting place to investigate and compare the productivity of these three habitats. Varying degrees of woody vegetation can have a profound impact on small mammal species richness and biodiversity (Matlack et al 2008). The field mammalogy class of the Itasca Biological Station set out to compare the species diversity of the forest and prairie of Minnesota. While some people are fooled by the prairie’s lack of trees and believe it to be infertile, we believe that the prairie may be just as capable as the forest in supporting a diverse group of small mammal species (Winsor et al 1975).