Carnivore ecology through study and story

Plan Author

  • Daniel Medeiros, 2019

Fields of Concentration

Faculty Sponsors

Outside Evaluator

  • Todd Fuller, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The first component is a study of fisher road crossings in Marlboro, Vermont, using GPS to gather data about fisher movements and about how these animals interacted with the alterations in the landscape. A second component utilized not the field methods of tracking but instead those of museum research; I photographed 131 wolf skulls at the Yellowstone Heritage and Research Center, and performed an analysis of the occurrence and prevalence of dental decay in the population. My third component is a work of original fiction, a novella, which carries themes concerning the relationship between humans and nonhuman animals. The final component is an exam that consists of four essay questions about wildlife ecology. My goal in these components is to examine how carnivores and other animals interact with their ecosystems, and particularly with human impacts on those ecosystems.


Fishers in general seemed to travel through a variety of forest types, beech-dominant forest and hemlock-dominant forest seed to be the most common (with perhaps there being some preference towards hemlock dominant forest) although it is possible that this is influenced by the prominence of these forest types on the landscape overall. Fishers often travelled through areas of dense undergrowth or areas where there were many small, young trees (sometimes spruce and sometimes beech) close together. It is likely that such areas—being somewhat sheltered—are common places to find rodents, and that the fishers travel here to find food.

Through this study, support was found for the hypothesis that a wolf’s age had an impact on dental decay—as older wolves were significantly more likely to show signs of dental wear or illness than younger wolves. In contrast, support was not found for the hypothesis that sex has an effect on dental decay, with sex-based differences not holding statistical significance when compared using GLM’s. Dental decay appears to be very common in the Yellowstone grey wolf population. This contrasts with the results of Pavlovic et al. (2007), where dental disease was present in less than 9% of a wolf population in Croatia

After spending four months in only his wolf form he had wondered and hoped that his mind might become fully wolf as well, and that then he might be free. And it was true, the longer he stayed wolf the more his human mind quieted. But it never went away—and the longer he stayed out of human form the more he needed it. And so he had settled on living in both forms and in both minds. In many ways, being a wolf and being a human were not so different. They had different senses, yes, and therefore tended to think about the world using different senses. But they weren’t so different. For example: both needed their own kind.


One of the main aspects of Marlboro College that attracted me here was its environment. The campus is situated in the midst of hundreds of acres of woods. Of all the colleges I looked at, this is the one to which forests were most accessible. This was and still is important to me because I see it as important to maintain a strong relationship with forests. The natural world became the focus of my studies, within the realms of both science and humanities.

I would say that the most interesting part of my Plan is the first component, which is a study of fisher road crossings in Marlboro. It could be used to develop hypotheses and methods for further work regarding fisher movements or how roads affect animal movement. My Plan deals with issues of human impact on wildlife and wildlife conservation, which is my intended direction after Marlboro.