Lincoln Park Zoo

The Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago Illinois has several research projects in urban wildlife conservation. Hired as a field conservation intern, it was my first wildlife work experience after graduating from Northern Illinois University. 

 
 
 Meadow jumping mouse climbing out of its enclosure after the acclimation period.

Meadow jumping mouse climbing out of its enclosure after the acclimation period.

Meadow Jumping mouse reintroduction

The meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius intermedius) lives in grassland habitat.  and a key species in dispersing native seeds. As the name depicts this species as large hind legs that enable it to jump high through the tall grasses. The meadow jumping mouse is a key species in grassland ecosystems dispersing native seeds in the spring and summer while hibernating in the winter. Chicago and its suburbs have largely dominated the landscape with residential, commercial, and industrial development. Due to this development the grasslands have been destroyed leaving behind poor habitat quality for several species. With the collaboration of the Lake County Forest Preserve District, my boss Allison Sacerdote-Velat and I studied the population and reintroduced the mice with a captive breeding project at the zoo. The mice were radio collared before their release to track their movements and home range. 

 
 Smooth green snakes (olive green color as hatchlings) making their way out of the eggs.

Smooth green snakes (olive green color as hatchlings) making their way out of the eggs.

smooth green snake

Another grassland species subjected to poor habitat quality is the smooth green snake (Opheodrys vernalis). In the same process, the green snakes were housed at the zoo for a captive breeding project. Smooth green snakes are oviparious meaning they lay their eggs outside of their body. Usually they prefer to lay them under logs or wood. Once the snakes hatched from the clutches they were released back into the Lake County Forest Preserve. Although the snakes are small in size we were also able to attach radio transmitters to track movement and home ranges. In addition, we monitored all snakes in several sites by putting out cover boards and marking the ventral scales of the snake by cauterizing the scales to represent a specific number.