Ornate Chorus Frogs

            On rainy nights in late fall and winter, small wetlands across the Coastal Plain of the southeastern U.S. come to life with the frantic calls and movements of winter breeding amphibians.  Many amphibian species breed in seasonal wetlands that are most commonly inundated during predictable fall and winter rains.  These wetlands provide ideal breeding […]

Ecosystem Engineers: Creating Habitat for Others

Biologists have many ways to classify animals.  Species can be grouped together based on what they eat, their relationships with other species, the time of day they are most likely to be active, or their evolutionary history and genetic relationships to other species.  Ecosystem engineers are species that modify their environment in a significant manner, […]

Shedding Light on Disappearing Turtle Populations

Turtles are an ancient group of animals that have remained relatively unchanged over a long evolutionary history that spans more than 200 million years. A recent review by Lovich et al. (2018) highlights the current global plight of turtles. Some 61% of the world’s turtle species are either threatened or already extinct, making turtles one […]

Prevalence of Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola in Georgia’s Native Snake Fauna

Over the last two years, we have sampled the snake fauna of southeastern Georgia for Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, the causative agent of Snake Fungal Disease (SFD). SFD has now been identified in snakes across the eastern United States, including several severe cases in Georgia that prompted this study. We sampled snakes through a variety of methods […]

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 […]