Wildlife Science Projects

Key Largo in Florida, USA is home to a very few cotton mice. They have disproportionately big brown eyes for their skinny brown mice bodies. The only place in the world that these tiny beings live is in the hardwood trees on that island in Florida. But people like to live where these trees live, and so they chop them down, and build houses. Soon, there are no places for the mice, which, actually, make the people glad.

That’s one story about an endangered species. There are hundreds of other stories. The green sea turtle, also endangered in Florida, is another. It, and other species of turtles used to be so common, that one of the early explorers wrote back home that he could walk on water on the back of them! Today, these turtles get caught in fishing nets or are hunted down for their meat. They also succumb to diseases, and the destruction of their breeding grounds and nesting areas. They nest on the beaches of Florida and elsewhere.

Most of us have heard of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest by clear cut deforestation. But did you know that deforestation by clear cutting is also happening in the United States? Back in 1995, companies were cutting the Washington state by clear cutting it. Old growth wood is trees which have never been cut since the white man has been on the continent of North America. And now they are being cut, in wide chunks. Again, taking down these trees also takes down the homes of birds and animals. Have you ever considered what trees do for the ecology of an area? They keep the forest cool so other species can live in it. Trees anchor the soil in order for it to stay in place and not erode away. Have you ever seen a mountain that was clear-cut, or strip mined? What do you think about it? Would you care to make a hypothesis about the effect it has on the surrounding environment, and ultimately, yourself?

However, habit loss is the most serious threat that Americas endangered species face. The elimination of grasslands in the southwest by encroaching homes threatens, indeed, destroys, bird species. Dams in the southeast have annihilated homes for both people and animals. Fifty-six species of mussels because the formerly rapidly running streams have been pooled into dams, or slowed by the dams, if they still exist. The toxic pesticide DDT has invisibly hunted down hundreds of species. Beginning at the bottom of the food chain, successive eaters have been adversely affected by this noxious chemical. In the process, it nearly eliminated the bald eagle.

We can see and name many species that are endangered, like the sea otters, alligators, whales, grizzlies and wolves. But if you really want to understand wildlife, start in your backyard, or a park, with a magnifying glass. The average length of animal wild life is less than half an inch! You can even catch some of that, probably. But, learn our lesson…. Don’t grab. Don’t annihilate. Preserve. Save the butterflies.