Herpetology

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Herpetology Field Course 2017

The research interests of KU Biodiversity Institute herpetology curators Rich Glor and Rafe Brown focus on far-flung countries such as the Philippines and Cuba, but this summer they led a team of students enrolled in a herpetology field course much closer to home, across several counties in Kansas. For two weeks, the students learned how to find frogs, salamanders and snakes, and how to catch them safely, prepare them, and bring them back to add to Biodiversity Institute research collections. Along the way, they pitched tents and camped, and learned more about the ecology and geography of Kansas. 

The course was created as a way to supplement what the students learn in the classroom and allow them to get that hands-on experience that really helps solidify understanding of the concepts, Glor said. The course is open to students of any level -- undergraduate and graduate -- and not just KU students either; the course welcomes students from any college to apply. The course also gives students a chance to see if they enjoy biodiversity field work and can endure the two weeks of camping. 

Photographers from KU Marketing and Communications joined the group for part of the trip and documented the students' experiences. 

"We are in a field where we love doing what we're doing," Glor said. "It's a lot of fun for us and it's a lot of fun for the students." The group surveyed, or looked for and documented specimens, in Barber, Cherokee, Douglas, Ellsworth, and Riley counties.

Collections manager Luke Welton said the group collected 127 specimens - 38 amphibians, 87 snakes and lizards, and two turtles. Many of these samples represent valuable county records for genetic samples, and a potential size record for Thamnophis sirtalis (red-sided garter snake).