From 30th May to 10th June 2016, the herpetology division held a field herpetology summer class designed to introduce students to the local herpetofauna and methods for conducting field surveys. We led 12 inspired students on a two-week long fieldtrip across six different counties in Kansas and managed to collect 44 different species of amphibians and reptiles. Here are some highlights from our trip:
Our journey began at the Konza Prairie Biological Station (KPBS) where the director of the station Dr. Eva Horne gave us a very informative tour about the research that was going on at the station. The KPBS is located in the Flint Hills on a 3,487 hectare native tallgrass prairie preserve jointly owned by The Nature Conservancy and Kansas State University. This was the students first introduction to herping and what better place to start than The Flint Hills!
From Konza, we headed to Cheyenne Bottoms wetlands for a day before proceeding to Wilson Lake State Park in the Smokey Hills region of Kansas. Here, students got to try their hands at noosing lizards under the watchful eye of the noose master himself, Rich Glor.
To cap off the first week of fieldwork, we visited the Sternberg Museum of Natural History and was given a behind-the-scenes tour by the collections manager Curtis Schmidt.
For the second week, we headed southwards to Alexander Ranch in Barber County, led by guest instructor Eric Rundquist. This was by far the most productive site where we managed to rack up 26 species in two days.
Our next stop was Elk City State Park in Montgomery County where the highlight was three Rough Green Snakes! (Opheodrys aestivus).
Our last stop for the trip was Shermerhorn Park in Cherokee County where we found our first salamanders and newt!
12 fantastic students -- two weeks in the field -- 6 counties -- 44 species, sums up an immensely successful class. Can't wait to do it again next summer!
For more photos, please visit the KU Herpetology flickr page
KU Herpetology PhD candidate Jesse Grismer will soon be defending his thesis work on "The Fragmentation of Gondwanaland: Influence on the Historical Biogeography and Morphological Evolution within Dragon Lizards (Squamata: Agamidae)". Jesse's defense is scheduled for June 8th at 1pm in Malott 2049. See you there.