SciSun: Of Mice and Men

Now this is just embarrassing.

This is SO not the photo I want online

 

At least it is if you’re this little guy. This is a cactus mouse (Peromyscus eremicus), and he’s being held in this unflattering position because a field scientist is checking to see that he’s OK. Cactus mice are some of the few mammals that can live in the hottest deserts of the Southwest US, and in fact if it gets too hot, they can slow down their metabolism and become inactive to save energy. So this guy is being checked for his overall health, and as an indicator of other mice living in the same area. No need to check on all the mice when you can embarrass just one!

But checking on wildlife, plants, and the environment is one of the most important jobs that some scientists do. While the word ‘scientist’ might make you think of white coats and beakers with bubbling liquid and lots of complex numbers on chalkboards, many scientists are in the field every day – searching for animal and plant species and collecting samples; taking measurements and recording information; and adding to the knowledge base of our world. There is always more to know, and no matter how many scientists there are, there are always more discoveries to uncover. And even though you’re not a scientist (yet!), you can go outside in your backyard or park or field and make discoveries of your own. Just don’t pick up any mice. They get really embarrassed.

Dig Deeper!

There are lots of great places to learn more about Field Scientists. Here are a few to get you started:

http://www.usgs.gov/ohr/student/learn/jobs/job-wldlf.html

http://www.usbr.gov/pmts/fish/

http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos047.htm

And don’t forget your local library!

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