The otters habitat includes all type of inland water areas as well as marine coves. It is usually no farther then 300 feet from water at all time including when it seeks shelter in burrows, rock piles or driftwood piles. The majority of otters have at least one burrow within 300 feet of the water that is their permanent home.
The otter eats small water animals like fish, frogs, birds and insects. But they also eat oats and vegetables. The otter is the prey to man and larger mammals.
The river otter catches its prey with its mouth unlike other types of otters which catch it with their hands. The otter hunts during the day for food and can swim at an average of 7mph.
Factors which Affect Birth Rate of the Otter
Breeding occurs during winter and early spring.
Gestation period lasts 245-380 days
During each pregnancy 1-4 kits are born
The kits eyes open at day 35 but they do not leave the den until day 60. After four months the kits will stop nursing and learn to hunt on their own. After a year, the otters will leave the den for good.
The otters reach sexual maturity at age 2
Factors Which Affect the Death Rate of the Otter
Adult otters have very few predators. The main predators for otters are birds of prey, wolves and other large mammals. Otters are often hunted for their desirable coats and skins, however this act is illegal.
The otter lives to be 8 or 9 years old in the wild.
The three main parasites that otters have are Toxoplasma gondii, Sarcocystis neurona, and Acanthocephalans. Toxiplasma gondii is a parasite which lays its eggs in the food the otter eats. Even though it is not toxic, it can lead to encephalitis which is a brain infection which can lead to seizures. Sarcocystis neurona is another parasite which lays its eggs in the otters food. This parasite leads to encephalitis. Acanthocephalans are parasites sound in the intestines of otters. They puncture the intestinal walls of the otter and cause infection.
When one area has to many otters, food supply is short and very limited causing the otters to die.
Food Chain of the Otter Producer Autotroph Primary Consumer Omnivore Secondary Consumer Omnivore Tertiary Consumer Carnivore
Food web of the Otter Producer Herbivore Omnivore Omnivore Carnivore Carnivore Carnivore Herbivore Omnivore
Population Sampling Techniques
Ecologists tag otters to make a hypothesis on the amount of otters living in that area.
Many researchers tag the animals a get certain information such as size, weight, coloring then release them. Then they get an average amount to make a hypothesis.
Stream Quality Data & Analysis
The stream conditions are ideal for animals because of the amount of Class 1 animals. This means that the water is pristine and very close to pure.
You know that the stream quality is good because the amount of Class 1 organisms is far greater then the Class 2 and 3. Class 1 organisms are indicators that the water is exceptionally good.
These stream conditions would be ideal for the river otter because it is unpolluted so the animals it preys on would be in abundance.
The otter would be effected a great deal because the animals it eats would be dead, thus the otter would die too.
Water Testing Data & Analysis
The different levels sow that it is ideal for phosphates and nitrates to be low, ph to be around 7 and dissolved oxygen to be higher.
Nitrates and phosphates would ideally be around 0. Oxygen would ideally be around 10, and pH would ideally be around 7.
The otter would strive more in the stream water quality because of its ideal qualities. In the marsh or the mine the otter would probably die because it is such poor quality.
Low turbidity is the best because high turbidity messes up predator prey relationship. Temperature also affect is because the warmer it is the higher the dissolved oxygen.
Soil Testing & Analysis
Potash, Phosphorus, Nitrogen, pH are very important to the quality of soil.
Low traces of Nitrogen and Phosphorus are ideal. High Potash is also ideal. Lower levels of pH are the most ideal for soil.
If there are high levels of Nitrogen and Phosphorus then the ecosystem will more then likely die. High pH is also very damaging to the environment. All of the soil testing factors are, if changed, lethal to the environment.
Positive and Negative Factors
The current stream quality would be ideal for the otter because of their pristine quality, many of the animals it eats are found in that type of environment. However, the otter could not live in the marsh or the mine water because the pollution would be lethal to it.
The soil conditions at the riparian zone would also be ideal for the otter because the pH is low.
There are many factors that positively and negatively affect PA streams. The most common factor of polluted streams is farm land run off and abandoned mine drainage. The ways to conserve the riparian zone are things like limestone, wet lands, etc.
One thing I learned that was new was how different classes of organisms show the quality of streams.
What I found interesting was how if one thing dies, everything is effected by it.
I would like to research wet lands further.
Dewey, T. and E. Ellis. 2003. "Lontra canadensis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 14, 2010 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Lontra_canadensis.html.
"Red River of the North." America the Beautiful . 2010. Grolier Online. 12 May 2010 <http://atb.grolier.com/cgi-bin/article?templatename=topics.html&a ssetid=atb036t01&assettype=h>.