The Importance of Landscape Connectivity

Longleaf pine ecosystems have been reduced to less than 5% of their original extent — creating many of the conservation challenges that exist today in the southeastern United States.  Severe habitat loss also brings with it other associated conservation issues, which can further degrade remaining habitat and imperil wildlife populations. Habitat fragmentation or a loss […]

Suwannee Alligator Snapping Turtle

Georgia’s Giant Turtles

Alligator snapping turtles are the largest species of freshwater turtle in Georgia, reaching sizes of up to 200 pounds and carapace lengths in excess of 80 cm (over 30 inches).  Until recently, all alligator snapping turtles were classified as a single species: Macrochelys temminckii.  However, Thomas et al. (2014) split alligator snapping turtles into three […]

Following the thread: Searching for turtle nests

This spring we were posed with a challenging question.  How do you go about finding Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) nests when there is very little information available about where or when they are going to lay eggs?  Our first step towards answering this question was to capture female turtles and attach radio transmitters to their […]

Sex Determination in Reptiles

Embryonic sex determination (i.e., the mechanism that determines whether embryos develop into males or females) is a fundamental biological process that has significant implications in determining sex ratios in natural populations.  Many vertebrates, including mammals, birds, amphibians, and some reptiles exhibit genotypic sex determination (GSD), where males or females are produced based on the sex […]

Hiding in Plain Site: Southern Dusky Salamanders

Last year on a warm sticky day in June, we ventured into a large perennial seep at the base of a small sandhill.  There are similar seeps all over the southeast where groundwater trickles out onto the surface and forms small mucky swamps that are rarely more than a few inches deep.  Seeps provide important […]

Imperfect Detection: An important aspect of Eastern Indigo Snake Surveys

The 2017–2018 Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi) survey season is winding down. The majority of surveys will be finished by mid-February, and the snakes will slowly start moving away from sandhills as the weather warms up in late winter and early spring. This annual movement off of sandhills makes a species that is already difficult […]

2017 Review: A year of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

As 2017 comes to an end, it’s time to take a look back at the research, monitoring, and outreach accomplishments made by the Longleaf Savannas Initiative (LSI) over the past 12 months.  It has been a year full of hard work, hot days, incredible observations, and fascinating reptiles and amphibians.  We traveled all over southern […]

Winter is Coming: What is an ectotherm to do?

As 2017 rapidly draws to a close, the nights have gotten cooler in southern Georgia, with some semblance of winter arriving in the not so distant future.  For reptiles and amphibians, shortening day lengths and the arrival of cooler weather signal a shift in behavior and a need to find winter refugia.  Reptiles and amphibians […]

Flying Insect Declines Highlight the Importance of Ecosystem-focused Conservation

Last month, new research was published in the journal PLoS ONE detailing a greater than 70% decline in flying insect biomass in protected areas in Germany. Even more concerning, these declines occurred in just under three decades. To identify biomass declines, the authors sampled flying insect communities in 63 protected sites over a 27-year period […]

The perils of crossing the road

In today’s world, there are numerous threats to worldwide amphibian and reptile diversity, ranging from habitat loss and fragmentation to human persecution and over-collection for commercial exploitation.  In many places the human population continues to expand while simultaneously pushing into previously unsettled or sparsely populated areas.  With this expansion generally comes an ever denser network […]