Thursday, May 28, 2015
John Kaiser

My name is John Kaiser and I will be a junior at KU studying Molecular and Cellular Biology. I have a deep interest in studying organisms on both the ecological and molecular levels. During the Field Biology Program to Costa Rica, I hope to expand my scientific knowledge and research skills by engaging in ecological exploration to better understand the interactions between organisms in the lush ecosystems of Costa Rica. Additionally, I plan on learning more about the Spanish dialect native to Costa Rica in order to better understand the diversification of the Spanish language and culture throughout Central America. -John

Friday, May 22, 2015
Rafe Brown

is that a copperhead??
It's that time of year.  In the late Spring every year we receive calls and alarmed emails from residents with reports of "Copperheads," and "Massasauga Rattlesnakes."  Occasionally these reports contain details of snakes vibrating their tails, apparently reinforcing the "rattlesnake" identification.  Here's an image from a Lawrence resident who reported a colorful snake, length of about 18 inches, on their patio (photographed from safety behind the patio door).  Like most of these Spring reports, the snake species involved here is a non-venomous prairie rat snake, Pantherophis emoryi.  This species is brightly colored when they emerge as "young-of-the-year" juveniles in Spring—and their blotched color pattern superficially resembles the general color pattern of a few species of rattle snake, but generally doesn't look much like a copperhead.  Often, they even vibrate the tip of their tail, in apparent mimicry of a rattlesnake (smart, huh?). Although it is wise to avoid contact with snakes unless one's positive of the identification, even vaguely interested parties can benefit greatly by purchasing a basic field guide and checking out the illustrations. Most local Lawrence "rattlesnake" reports are misidentifications, usually ending badly for the unfortunate animal.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015
Rafe Brown

Congratulations to Scott, who passed his orals yesterday!  In this picture he celebrates with Herpetology Division members at the Bird Dog Cafe.  Next week, Scott departs for a month of field work in the Solomon Islands.  What a life.   The rest of us will stay put, to take care of the many preparations leading up to the SSAR meetings at KU in late July.  Wait a minute....I see what's happening here!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Rich Glor

Second year KU Herpetology student Carl Hutter has just been awarded a Rosemary Grant Graduate Student Research Award from the Society for the Study of Evolution. This $2500 award will help further Carl's work on the systematics of Madagascan frogs. Congratulations to Carl!

Thursday, May 7, 2015
Rich Glor

The May 15 deadline for submitting titles and abstracts for oral presentations and posters for SSAR 2015 is now only one week away!  We have already received a large number of submissions, so be sure to submit as soon as possible to ensure that we don't run out of space for your presentation. If you are a student, we encourage you to consider signing up for one of the student presentation competitions sponsored by SSAR. The option to join these competitions is available via the abstract submission portal.

Thursday, May 7, 2015
Rich Glor


We are pleased to announce that all attendees of SSAR 2015 will receive an 11-by-15–inch commemorative poster featuring a spectacular new watercolor of a male collared lizard by natural history artist David M. Dennis. Dennis's artwork is well-known to herpetologists and has been reproduced in many books including Bill Duellman's "Hylid Frogs of Middle America." The posters are high quality printings on card stock and are laminated for durability. Posters will be available at registration and throughout the meeting to all registered attendees.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Rich Glor

The previously scheduled tours of the eastern Kansas field sites of legendary snake ecologist Henry Fitch on the afternoon of Thursday, July 30 have already filled to capacity. We were pleased with the outpouring of enthusiasm for this very special SSAR 2015 event and are now pleased to announce that George Pisani has agreed to open up four additional Fitch Reserve tour time slots at 9:00 and 2:00 pm, on both Friday and Saturday; with transportation provided from the meeting venue. Sign up now by contacting the conference organizers via e-mail (ssar2015@ku.edu)!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Kerry Cobb

Several members of the KU herpetology division joined the Kansas Herpetological Society recently for their biannual herp survey which took place near Russell, Kansas from April 24th to the 26th. Russell is in the heart of post rock country. This term comes from the presence of many old limestone fence posts built by the early settlers to this prairie. With few trees, the abundence of limestone just beneath the surface provided an excellent resource for building barbed wire fences. Much of this same rock, having been exposed, cracked and weathered, provides excellent hiding spots for an array of snakes, lizards, and frogs not found in Lawrence, KS.

 

Rafe Brown and Jackson Leibach search beneath exposed rock along a hillside

 

Just one of the many neat finds. This milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum) from just a couple of hours drive to the West looks a bit different than the ones we are used to finding around Lawrence. 

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Thursday, April 16, 2015
Rich Glor

We are still early in the registration process, but space in all of our tours and field trips is filling quickly. We are offering tours of KU Herpetology and a field trip to the Henry Fitch Natural HIstory Reserve on the afternoon of the meetings' first day (Thursday, July 30th) and a tour of Allen Press on the day after the meeting (Monday, August 3rd). Capacity for all of these trips is limited due to space and transportation issue, and all of them are already at least half full. Be sure to sign up soon if you want to go on a tour or field trip! You can book a spot in any on of these trips or tours at the time of registration. If you are already registered and would like to book a spot on one of the trips please contact the conference coordinators via e-mail (ssar2015@ku.edu).

Monday, April 13, 2015
Jennifer Humphrey

Nearly four months after the KU Antarctica team returned to campus, the 5,000 pounds of fossil material they collected in Antarctica will arrive at KU on Monday, April 13. 

Staff and students will start unloading 50-60 wooden crates of  material that is 260 to 180 million years old, from the Permian and Jurassic periods.  

Although most people think of Antarctica as a barren, cold environment, 200 million years ago it was a land of lush forest – a forest that now permineralized can yield clues to the climate change of the past, and how plants today may react to climate change as well.

The fossil material will help scientists study floral changes during the Jurassic in the Transantarctic Mountains of Antarctica. 

“This research is important in understanding what climate and environment was like at the poles during one of Earth’s past greenhouse climates and how plants responded to both climate changes and instantaneous disruptions through the rise of volcanoes,” said Rudy Serbet, collection manager of paleobotany at KU Biodiversity Institute and a team leader for the trip. “These sorts of times and environmental stresses are key to understanding how current climate change may effect high latitude plants.”

During the seven weeks they were in Antarctica, the group took several camping field trips “out to the ice,” including the  Odell Glacier area and the Allan Hills. 

No staff or students have seen the material in the intervening months as it made its way from Antarctica to California to Kansas. 

"Today is like Christmas in April,” said Paleobotany Curator Edith Taylor, lead PI on the National Science Foundation grant that funded the research.

Archived posts from the group are available here