Authored by Houston Chandler
Last month, Dirk Stevenson and I attended the southeastern chapter of the Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation’s (SEPARC) annual meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas. In recent years, this meeting has become a premier meeting for herpetologists from around the southeast and is usually well attended by a mix of graduate students, academics, naturalists, federal and state employees, and non-profit organizations who all share the common goal of conserving reptile and amphibian diversity. The meeting took place over a three-day weekend and included oral presentations, poster presentations, workshops, and field trips that highlighted local herpetofaunal diversity.
One of the best parts about attending SEPARC is getting to hear about all of the fascinating research and conservation work that is taking place across the southeast. This year there were presentations about awide variety of species including Eastern Hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis), Diamondback Terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin), Bog Turtles (Glyptemys muhlenbergii), and Crawfish Frogs (Lithobates areolatus). There was also a major focus on genetics work and the various diseases that negatively impact herpetofaunal communities. The Orianne Society’s contribution to the presentations was giving a poster that detailed our three years of Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) research in southern Georgia. The poster was well received and over the course of the meeting we got the chance to discuss turtle research with several other turtle biologists.
No gathering of herpetologists would be complete without some time in the field looking for native species of amphibians and reptiles. One afternoon, we ventured out to a nearby river to assist Grover Brown with his doctoral research on Razor-backed Musk Turtles (Sternotherus carinatus), catching two turtles along the side of the river. We also took a trip with some local herpetologists to a large ephemeral wetland that supports breeding populations of three species of Ambystomatid salamanders. After a couple hours of searching, we found several Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum), Marbled Salamanders (Ambystoma opacum), and Small-mouthed Salamanders (Ambystoma texanum), in addition to three other native salamander species.
SEPARC 2017 was a productive meeting, and we enjoyed seeing our fellow herpetologists from around the southeast. We are already looking forward to next year’s meeting and hearing more about all of the great conservation work going on across our region.