What’s the most common cat in Ireland? It turns out it’s a black cat with white markings. While this may seem like a trivial use of a survey, a cat’s colorings are important because it traces the cat’s genetic background.
Studying cat populations even helped earn Dr Andrew Lloyd, a lecturer in the department of science and health at Institute of Technology Carlow, a PhD in the 1980s. “It serves as a fantastic resource for critical thinking. The concepts are so simple you could do a study as a Young Scientist project. You could use it as a tool to explain gene frequency or evolution, but also questions about overall genetic make-up – for example, looking for the greatest level of difference between two counties and seeing how this relates to geographic distance,” he says.