The Wytham Small Mammal Project continues a long tradition of small mammal research in Wytham Woods. Building on previous research on demography, the current focus is on the ecology of wild mice (Apodemus sylvaticus and A. flavicollis) and their symbiotic gut bacteria as well as their gut parasites. The vertebrate gut flora is now known to mediate many key aspects of host physiology including nutrient acquisition and immunity, and is increasingly recognised as an important determinant of host fitness. However, little is known about the forces shaping these diverse and dynamic microbial communities in natural populations. In this project we are tackling this gap in knowledge by examining how host genotype, maternal effects, diet, habitat and social transmission shape the gut microbiota of wild rodents. To support this research as well as enhance welfare of our study subjects we are also developing novel animal-friendly tracking and trapping technology based on PIT-tag technology, funded by NC3Rs Research Council.
Currently working on Wytham Small Mammal Project: Sarah Knowles, PI, Royal Veterinary College. Aura Raulo, DPhil student, University of Oxford – Effects of social and environmental transmission on wood mouse gut microbiota. Kirsty Marsh, PhD Student, Royal Veterinary College – Effects of seasonal dietary fluctuations and gut parasites on wood mouse gut microbiota. Marc Brouard, post doc, University of Oxford – Population demography of woodland rodents. Curt Lamberth, post doc, Royal Veterinary College – Developing novel animal-friendly trapping and tracking technology
Students: Benjamin Fisk, Undergraduate student – Animal personality and social dominance in wood mice.Tanya Troitsky, Master student – Effects of host genetics and maternal transmission on wood mouse gut microbiota
Past students: Jemima Scarse – Social preference for sex-specific odours in wild wood mice. James Wilcock – Burrow use of wild wood mice. Kylie Dong – Burrow structure of wild wood mice.