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Dog searches Colorado mountains for bees in fight against climate change – Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colorado 2021-07-19 15:36:10 –

By Lindsey Toomer, Summit Daily

Frisco — Jacqueline Staab has found a way to combine the two passions of bees and dogs in a conservation research effort.

Starve’s dog Darwin was trained as a protective detection dog to search for bumblebees and their nests. Starve said he is the only protected dog in the country that specializes in bees. The work that Starve and Darwin do together is for a master’s degree in evolutionary ecology.

For the past four or five years, Starve has come to Summit County herself to study bees, and this is her first year with Darwin. The duo specializes in alpine bumblebees, making Summit County a fascinating research destination.

“I couldn’t imagine a better place to work with Darwin,” Starve said. “Alpine bumblebees are also like canaries in coal mines for climate change …. Seeing how they react here helps predict future movements and changes. . “

While her research season is just beginning, Starve and Darwin are already investigating the area around Houser Pass and part of the White River National Forest.

“I don’t see many bumblebees, so I’m definitely cutting out our work,” Starve said. “To be honest, this is the lowest number of bumblebees I’ve seen here.”

Bumblebees are opportunistic infections that mean nesting everywhere possible. Mr Starve said he likes to use abandoned animal burrows, huts, piles of trees, or large chunks of grass.

Until recently, most research on bumblebee conservation has focused solely on the need for flower resources, according to Starve. She said there are two other important aspects to the study. The need for wintering sites and nesting sites.

“To protect the seeds, we need to know every part of the puzzle,” Starve said. “Bumblebees are really important. They are important pollen maters …. When you start to lose the diversity of pollen maters, you also lose the diversity of plants, which only begins a chain of ecological problems.”

In collaboration with Darwin, Starve said their research will add new information on bumblebee nesting habits and preferences and help conservation groups determine the best way to allocate money to help them. It was.

“The more we can see the big picture of their nesting preferences, the more their nesting ecology-we really don’t know-the more big picture we can find a solution. You can see it well, “Staab said.

Starve said there is a set of specific traits that detection dogs need. Darwin, a German Shorthaired Pointer, was born from a working dog pedigree. The pointer naturally brings its head closer to the ground and has a high driving force.

Starve got Darwin as a puppy and sent him to highland dog training in North Carolina when he was six months old. Highland Canine trainers previously worked with other nature maintenance dogs, but not specifically for bees.

Amber Siebsen, who led Darwin’s training, said he was natural. Darwin was the first nature maintenance dog trained by Jibsen. She usually trains other detection dogs for law enforcement and search and rescue.

Siebsen said Darwin’s training process is very similar to how she trains other dogs. The main difference was the environment in which she trained him. Darwin was also trained to be a few feet away when detecting bees, for his own safety and bees. Drug dogs, on the other hand, are trained to be as close as possible to the source of the scent.

The first step in training is imprinting. This is basically teaching the dog which scent to smell. This is done by putting a scent in a perforated pipe. In the case of Darwin, the scent came from the honeycomb.

According to Sievesen, when the pipe is filled with odors, the trainer fetches with the dog for about 75 minutes, exposing the dog to the odor. According to Sievesen, the 75 minutes came from a study conducted by the president of the training center on how long it takes a dog to smell a new scent.

The next step in the training process is behavioral formation. This is to teach the dog what to do when it finds a smell. Siebsen said this is easier for Darwin, as the pointer points naturally, as the name implies.

When a dog does what he wants-to point to the source of the scent-Jibsen enhances his behavior with a ball. Then add multiple boxes with different scents and start teaching your dog how to hunt, using the ball each time Darwin points to the correct scented box.

Dogs like Darwin are far more capable of finding things in nature than humans, according to Siebsen. Starve added that one-third of the dog’s brain is controlled by the sensory system.

“We have natural skills … and we teach them to take advantage of it, meet their needs, and achieve what we need. Give them, “said Siebsen. “With Darwin, you can clear large chunks of forests and fields very quickly. It’s much faster than just walking around.”

Other types of protected detection dogs look for bats, whales, jaguars, weeds, and various types of invading species. Mr. Starve said that the scent of bumblebees is so weak that Darwin, who specializes only in bumblebees, finds it advantageous.

Siebsen added that when training detection dogs, she always gives them the opportunity to make mistakes. She had different kinds of bee scents at the facility when she trained Darwin, and he never made a mistake.

“Bumblebees can smell very different from other bees,” says Sievesen. “Even if you change the type of bumblebee or the type of bumblebee, he will show it.”

Starve said he was always looking for help in his research on bumblebees and recommended that anyone who saw the bumblebee’s nest contact her on or Darwin’s Facebook page.

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