Posted: October 19, 2020

Muskrat populations have declined sharply across North America over the last 50 years or so.

Muskrat. Photo by Bigstock

Muskrat. Photo by Bigstock

A team led by researchers in the college investigated whether pathogens, parasites, contaminants, or disease may be contributing to this decline. To analyze trends in muskrat mortality, the team pored over 131 articles, published from 1915 to 2019, from 27 U.S. states and nine Canadian provinces that contained information about muskrat mortality events. The findings, published in Frontiers of Veterinary Science, were the first holistic review of muskrat mortality ever compiled.

Laken Ganoe
Lead researcher Laken Ganoe captured muskrats, surgically implanted them with radio transmitters, and then tracked them using radio telemetry to determine their movement patterns, home range size, and survival. Photo by Laken Ganoe.

The study was spearheaded by Laken Ganoe, who did the work as part of her master's degree thesis in wildlife and fisheries science, advised by David Walter, adjunct assistant professor of wildlife ecology.

--Jeff Mulhollem