Sunday, October 14, 2012

Reunited with students from Duke TIP!

Me and 3/13ths of my talented students from this summer's amphibian biology and ecology course AKA 'puddle class'. Pictured here at Chattahoochie River Wildlife Management Area (CRWMA)
This past weekend, three of my students from the Duke University TIP's 'Frogs, Bogs and Pollywogs - Amphibian Biology and Conservation' class came to visit, learn more about our amphibian conservation program, and potentially develop internships to continue honing their field ecology skills.

The three week course, which was half biology, half ephemeral wetland ecology and all amphibians, took place in June in Sarasota at The New College of Florida. It was just an incredible experience (for more information see our previous blog post here) one I was thrilled to continue here at the Garden.

One of the highlights for me was my first Black rat snake (Pantherophis obsoletus). Although they are relatively common throughout their range, I have never lived where they do before.

A student and parent confer with Steve, a Garden botanist who was kind enough to show us around Chattahoochie River Wildlife Management Area (CRWMA).  A couple of feet away, a Black rat snake slithers into a crevice.

Small streams in the CRWMA provided lots of opportunities to find salamanders and their larvae.  One thing we missed dearly because Sarasota, where the course was offered is devoid of terrestrial salamander species.

We were having trouble photographing salamander larvae for identification, so Steve recommended we make a leaf bowl to keep the larvae stationary.

The only difference between this picture and countless others from the puddle class in June is that the larvae the students were after here were salamanders instead of frogs.
We only had a few days, so we packed in a nocturnal tour of the Garden (when most of the amphibian collections are actually awake!), introductions to the major projects of the amphibian conservation program, a grand day in the field at Chattahoochie River Wildlife Management Area with seasoned Garden botanist, Steve Bowling, and a behind-the-scenes tour of the reptile and amphibian collections at Zoo Atlanta with former ABG amphibian staff, Robert Hill.

It was a fantastic weekend, and I hope there will be many more to come ... My Duke TIP students are always welcomed to come and join us in our efforts to study and conserve amphibian species!