Wednesday, 18 February 2015

I am a mole and I live in a hole.

Two years ago I became gripped by one of my obsessions. My character is one that borders on the OCD and I go through phases of fascination with a subject. Recently I am absorbed by an interest in paleontology and in the past I have focused on Ancient Mesopotamian History and the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (which led to a book). The particular obsession I refer to today is that of Moles.

I noted the presence at various points on my local estate and began to wonder what the distribution of mole was in Warwick. I quickly began to consume the literature and discovered that molehills are in fact no relation to the number of moles living in an area. However I realised that they were a reflection on the amount of tunnels dug and earth moved. I also wondered if there were any patterns to their creation and did that change of time.

Molehills are generally constructed during the winter when more tunnels are needed to increase the foraging area. So over January and February of 2013 I went out and using a Garmin E-Trex gps device geo tagged every single molehill I could find in the town.

As luck would have it I also started a GIS course at the Continuing Education department of Oxford University and the data being collected was perfect for my final project.

This is the final map I produced.

I followed this up with a report on the different patterns identified and the distribution of mole colonies found. This was published on my website Wild Warwickshire under the title of The distribution of molehills of the European Mole (Talpa europea) in a sub-urban environment (2013)

I repeated the study on two of the site in 2014 and then again this year. I have quickly plotted the results in two pictures but have yet to do anymore analysis.

There is definitely some evidence of a pattern and it will be interesting trying to understand what if anything it means. Keep tuned and I ll post when I find out more.