Mike the Mad Biologist

The Bestest Exclusion Cage EVAH!

The Mad Biologist loves this experiment. In the April 2007 issue of Ecology, there’s a nice article by Ellis et al. demonstrating how sea gull predation regulates community dynamics in the rocky intertidal. One of the methods used was the construction of exclusion cages. Essentially, these keep various critters of interest out of a patch of seashore (or in, if the researcher prefers).

For example, a cage might be constructed to let prey (e.g., snails) in, but keep predators (e.g., crabs) out. But that’s hard to do with seagulls that eat large crabs: both organisms move long distances rapidly. Covering 100 square meters with wire mesh isn’t any more ‘realistic’ than caging off a 1 square meter area both organisms can cross in a matter of seconds.

So how do you create a “gull exclusion zone?” Here’s how:

Within the control plots, gulls were allowed to forage normally. In gull exclusion areas, 1-3 people prohibited gulls from foraging during low tides by scaring them away using streams of seawater from “supersoaker” water guns, thrown pebbles, and/or noise.

They got to shoot squirtguns, throw rocks, and yell at birds.

And it’s science!

Superb.

Comments

  1. #1 coturnix
    June 20, 2007

    All the while wearing their white lab coats and glasses, of course.

  2. #2 Jeb, FCD
    June 20, 2007

    Too bad they didn’t just shoot the bastards. I used to pay no mind to seagulls until I saw one of Attenborough’s series on life. I learned, then, that seagulls are complete asshole fundamentalists.

  3. #3 acm
    June 22, 2007

    well, gulls are no saints, but I don’t think I could work up full enthusiasm on the rock-and-supersoaker front unless the target was pigeons…

    lemme at ‘em!!

  4. #4 şişme bebek
    June 11, 2009

    Too bad they didn’t just shoot the bastards. I used to pay no mind to seagulls until I saw one of Attenborough’s series on life. I learned, then, that seagulls are complete asshole fundamentalists

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