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Hard cheese! Diet may slice mice

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 05:00 09/11/2012
Mice
JESS ETHERIDGE
MOUSE TRAP: Rodney Bowden was granted a fellowship to study the diet of mice at Massey University.

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Altering the diets of mice to change their behaviour may shed new light on ways to eradicate predators without the use of pesticides in the bush, Rodney Bowden says.

The Wairau Intermediate head of science was awarded a Primary Science Teacher Fellowship by the Royal Society of New Zealand to conduct research over the last two terms of the year.

The 50-year-old jumped into an ongoing research project that measures the behavioural changes in mice depending on how much protein they are fed.

But Mr Bowden cannot say whether low or high protein has the best results - it is top secret until the research is concluded.

By modifying their diet they then monitor how their behaviour, such as mating, scent and foraging, changes, he says.

One of the long-term benefits may be finding pesticide-free ways to catch predators in sanctuaries, Mr Bowden says.

Visiting Tiritiri Matangi Island for field trips and working in labs with other researchers have been highlights, he says.

"I wish I had come here earlier," he laughs about the experience.

The fellowships are funded by the Government and administered by the Royal Society.

Mr Bowden will return to Wairau refreshed and hopes to implement more hands-on classroom experiments for his kids.

Twenty teachers nationwide were chosen for the fellowship programme.

Visit royalsociety.org.nz for more information.

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- North Shore Times

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