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Professor of Biology receives grant to study mammals in the Jean Lafitte National Park

Loyola press release - March 1, 2004

The National Park Service through the U.S. Department of Interior awarded a two-year, $108,000 grant to Loyola Professor of Biological Sciences Craig Hood to conduct a comprehensive inventory and monitoring program of the mammals of Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve in Jefferson Parish. Hood’s program will provide initial inventory to determine the impact of a larger project, the Davis Pond Freshwater Diversion Project.

The Davis Pond project is a $110 million project that will mimic the spring flow of the Mississippi River into the Barataria Basin and bring both freshwater and sediment to the entire basin. The Barataria Unit of Jean Lafitte is directly in the path of the diversion and will be significantly impacted by the hydrological changes in the Davis Pond project. To determine the current status of mammals and the impact of the pond project, inventory needed to be conducted now. This is where Hood and his team come in.

Hood began work in the summer of 2003. He and field technician Lauren Nolfo, a doctorate student at Tulane University, installed necessary equipment and completed survey of exiting lists/museum specimens. Initial field studies began in October, Hood said. Field sites include live-trapping rodents in freshwater and brachish marshes and spoil banks of Barataria unit. They have captured numerous mice and rats in the marshes, documented the presence of coyotes (new tracks and scat), raccoons, opossum, and muskrats through live capture and/or tracks/scat. The team also has established scent stations for carnivores (targeting coyotes, fox, and bobcats) and remote-sensing cameras for medium to large mammals.

Hood is receiving assistance from Loyola biological sciences students who are learning about ecology and becoming ecologists, the professor stresses. The team will continue with field studies and data analysis for remainder of the grant term. Hood will prepare a full report in 2005.