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  • Writer's pictureBree Putman

Don't be alarmed! We are not keeping venomous animals on campus!

Cover boards refer to any object that a small vertebrate animal could use for cover. Many reptiles and amphibians like to hide under objects with dark and moist microenvironments. Cover boards, made from plywood, carpet, or tin roofing material, create this favorable habitat for these species. Herpetologists systematically set out cover boards as a way to measure herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) presence and abundance in an area. You simply set out the boards, wait for some time, then lift up the boards to see what you've found!

My lab is interested in looking at the effects of urbanization on herpetofauna so we have deployed eight boards across campus to compare with what we find at more natural sites. We are interested in how the microhabitat characteristics (such as temperature and humidity) also vary under the boards and whether these attributes affect what animals we find.

Please do not move or disturb our boards! This will decrease their effectiveness at attracting animals.

Which species do you think live on campus? Stay tuned to find out!

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After multiple pandemic years of interruption, I was finally able to take my grad students to my favorite scientific meeting. From July 12-17, we attended the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in Norfolk, Virginia. This conference was the first scientific meeting I ever attended as an undergraduate in college, and it inspired me to pursue my Ph.D. and an academic career. I was so proud of my students for winning multiple travel awards to support their trip across the country! They all presented on their research, met fellow herpetologists, and enjoyed the student mixers. We even snuck in a lab trip to the Virginia Zoo. Overall, it was a great trip and I look forward to next year's summer adventures :)

The lab at the Virginia Zoo!

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Congrats to Emily and Elmer for being awarded the Carl Gans Travel Fellowship to attend and present at the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in Norfolk, Virginia this summer! The award is administered by the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR). Emily and Elmer are Master's students in my lab and will present on their research which looks at the effects of urbanization on herpetofauna in Southern California. This will be their first time attending a large national scientific research conference. I am excited to share this experience with them!

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