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Re: Herp- Digest Newsletter

Postby Philsuma » Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:10 am

Volume # 12 Issue # 57 12/9/12
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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“The Most Comprehensive - Readable Turtle Book Ever.”
TURTLES, TORTOISES AND TERRAPINS- A Natural History -Revised, Expanded and Updated by Ronald Orenstein, 448 pages, that’s 150 more than the first edition, 9" X 11",more than 300 full color photographs, range maps, bibliography, index
AND YES EVEN IF YOU HAVE COPIES OF THE FIRST EDITION YOU SHOULD GET THE 2ND EDITION, IT’S A WHOLE NEW BOOK.
$59.95 USD plus $12.00 for S&H in US, overseas please contact us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org
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HEALTH CARE AND REHABILITATION OF TURTLES AND TORTOISES
An excellent, must have for every turtle owner and every turtle & wildlife rehabilitator
Covers everything from general information such as: turtle anatomy, diet, stress, hibernation, brumation, outdoor and indoor enclosures and more --- to over 250 pages on shell fractures, tube feeding, bacterial and viral diseases, parasites, diagnostics, antibiotics in chelonians, and with supporting photographs. The author took great time and care to translate her and others experiences in turtle rehabilitation without the jargon, so all turtle owners enthusiasts can understand.
Full-color photographs. (2012) 393 pp. Softcover, by Amanda Ebenhack $39.85 plus $6.00 S&H see below on how to order (Overseas email us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org or S&H price)
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Table of Contents
1) Life history and the ecology of stress: how do glucocorticoid hormones influence life-history variation in animals?
2) Ontogenetic and individual diet variation in amphibian larvae across an environmental gradient
3) Orientation of migrating leatherback turtles in relation to ocean currents
4) Judge says golf can stay at Sharp Park (Territory of California red-legged frogs and San Francisco garter snakes)
5) Real Life 'Snakes On A Plane' Unfolds Over Egypt As Man Is Bitten By A Loose Cobra
6) Invasive Boa Constrictor Thriving on Puerto Rico
7) The Great Burmese Python Challenge: How Many Can You Kill? (Everglades)
8) Kane: Diving for Turtles-Lake Champlain, NY
9) Some in U. S. Congress oppose wider ban on big snakes
10) Hundreds of Reptiles Seized by Customs (Thailand)
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“THE TORTOISE” The Turtle Conservancy’s -For Members Only-New Periodical Publication (But it’s not just about Tortoises).
HerpDigest has Gained Access to a Limited Number of the Very First issue of the Turtle Conservancy’s New Periodical Publication “The Tortoise.” Recently available only to members. And they are going fast.
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Ranging from the highlands of Southeast Asia, home to two primitive tortoises of the genus Manouria, to the restricted range of the Geometric Tortoise (Psammobates geometricus) in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, to the West Coast of the US home of the Pacific Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata), to the cryptic wood turtles (Rhinoclemmys sp.) of Mexico, and almost everywhere in between.
The first issue is only $20.00 plus $6.00 for S&H. As all always contact us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org for overseas shipping costs.
WE ARE PERMANENTLY OUT OUT OF ALL 2013 CALENDARS
Looking for great gifts --Check out the magnets and diplomas on the HerpDigest Website
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1) Life history and the ecology of stress: how do glucocorticoid hormones influence life-history variation in animals?
1. Erica J. Crespi1,*,
2. Tony D. Williams2,
3. Tim S. Jessop3,
4. Brendan Delehanty4
Article first published online: 11/21/12, Functional Ecology
Author Information
1. 1School of Biological Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, USA
2. 2Department of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
3. 3Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
4. 4Department of Biological Sciences, Centre for the Neurobiology of Stress, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
*Correspondence author. E-mail: erica.crespi@wsu.edu

Summary
1. Glucocorticoids hormones (GCs) are intuitively important for mediation of age-dependent vertebrate life-history transitions through their effects on ontogeny alongside underpinning variation in life-history traits and trade-offs in vertebrates. These concepts largely derive from the ability of GCs to alter energy allocation, physiology and behaviour that influences key life-history traits involving age-specific life-history transitions, reproduction and survival.
2. Studies across vertebrates have shown that the neuroendocrine stress axis plays a role in the developmental processes that lead up to age-specific early life-history transitions. While environmental sensitivity of the stress axis allows for it to modulate the timing of these transitions within species, little is known as to how variation in stress axis function has been adapted to produce interspecific variation in the timing of life-history transitions.
3. Our assessment of the literature confirms that of previous reviews that there is only equivocal evidence for correlative or direct functional relationships between GCs and variation in reproduction and survival. We conclude that the relationships between GCs and life-history traits are complex and general patterns cannot be easily discerned with current research approaches and experimental designs.
4. We identify several future research directions including: (i) integration of proximate and ultimate measures, including longitudinal studies that measure effects of GCs on more than one life-history trait or in multiple environmental contexts, to test explicit hypotheses about how GCs and life-history variation are related and (ii) the measurement of additional factors that modulate the effects of GCs on life-history traits (e.g. GC receptors and binding protein levels) to better infer neurendocrine stress axis actions.
5. Conceptual models of HPA/I axis actions, such as allostatic load and reactive scope, to some extent explicitly predict the role of GCs in a life-history context, but are descriptive in nature. We propose that GC effects on life-history transitions, survival probabilities and fecundity can be modelled in existing quantitative demographic frameworks to improve our understanding of how GC variation influences life-history evolution and GC-mediated effects on population dynamics
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2) Ontogenetic and individual diet variation in amphibian larvae across an environmental gradient
1. TIFFANY A. SCHRIEVER1,2,
2. D.DUDLEY WILLIAMS2

1. 1 Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
2. 2 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Toronto at Scarborough, Toronto, ON, Canada
*Tiffany A. Schriever, Department of Zoology, Cordley Hall 3029, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-2914, U.S.A. E-mail: tiffany.schriever@utoronto.ca
Freshwater Biology 12/3/12/ First Published Online
Summary
1.  Variation among individuals within size or age classes can have profound effects on community dynamics and food-web structure. We investigated the potential influence of habitat disturbance on intrapopulation niche variation.
2.  Amphibians occupy a range of lentic habitats from short-hydroperiod intermittent ponds to long-hydroperiod permanent ponds. We quantified ontogenetic diet variation and individual specialisation in wood frog tadpoles (Lithobates sylvaticus) and blue-spotted salamander larvae (Ambystoma laterale) to investigate the influence of hydroperiod on population niche width across a natural hydroperiod gradient using stable isotope and gut content analyses. In one of the few tests using larval forms, we tested the niche variation hypothesis, which predicts that populations with larger niche widths also have increased individual variation.
3.  Our results support the niche variation hypothesis, indicating that more generalised populations exhibit higher within-individual diet variation. We report gradual changes in the relative importance of diet items, decreased dietary overlap and increased trophic position in L. sylvaticus throughout development. A. laterale became more enriched in δ13C and increased in δ15N throughout its larval period. We did not find a relationship between hydroperiod and niche parameters, indicating that niches are conserved across heterogeneous habitats. In contrast to most documented cases, we estimated low levels of individual specialisation in amphibian larvae.
4.  Amphibians are an important link between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, whereby diet shifts can influence food-web structure by altering energy flow pathways and the trophic position of higher consumers, ultimately changing food-chain length.
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3) Orientation of migrating leatherback turtles in relation to ocean currents
Animal Behaviour
Volume 84, Issue 6, December 2012, Pages 1491–1500
• S. Gallia,
• P. Gasparb,
• S. Fossettec,
• B. Calmettesb,
• G.C. Haysc,
• J.R.E. Lutjeharmsd, +,
• P. Luschia, ,
• a Department of Biology, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
• b Collecte Localisation Satellites, Direction Océanographie Spatiale, Ramonville, France
• c Department of Biosciences, College of Science, Swansea University, Swansea, U.K.
• d Department of Oceanography, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa

During their offshore movements, leatherback turtles, Dermochelys coriacea, associate frequently with ocean currents and mesoscale oceanographic features such as eddies, and their movements are often in accordance with the current flow. To investigate how individual turtles oriented their ground- and water-related movements in relation to the currents encountered on their journeys, we used oceanographic techniques to estimate the direction and intensity of ocean currents along the course of 15 leatherbacks tracked by satellite during their long-distance movements in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. For all individuals a non-negligible component of active swimming was evident throughout the journeys, even when their routes closely followed the currents, but overall the turtle water-related orientation was random with respect to current directions. For turtles in the North Atlantic, the ground-related movements largely derived from the turtles' active swimming, while in the Indian Ocean currents contributed substantially to the observed movements. The same pattern was shown when distinct parts of the routes corresponding to foraging bouts and travelling segments were considered separately. These findings substantiate previous qualitative observations of leatherback movements, by revealing that turtles were not simply drifting passively but rather swam actively during most of their journeys, although with a random orientation with respect to currents. Our analysis did not provide any indication that leatherbacks were able to detect the current drift they were exposed to, further highlighting the navigational challenges they face in their oceanic wanderings.

Highlights
► We estimate ocean currents along the routes of 15 satellite-tracked leatherbacks. ► We assess how individual turtles oriented their movements in relation to currents. ► The turtles swam actively during most of their journeys, even when following currents. ► Their water-related orientation was at random with respect to current directions. ► No indication was found that leatherbacks were able to detect current drift.
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4) Judge says golf can stay at Sharp Park (Territory of California red-legged frogs and San Francisco garter snakes)
SFGATE, Jill Tucker December 7, 2012
Snakes, frogs and fairways can coexist at Sharp Park Golf Course in Pacifica, a federal judge ruled this week.
The decision settles a 4-year-old feud between environmentalists looking out for endangered California red-legged frogs and San Francisco garter snakes and golfers hoping to preserve the historic 18 holes with ocean views.
Known as the poor man's Pebble Beach, the 80-year-old Sharp Park is owned by San Francisco, and the course is operated by the city's Recreation and Park Department.
It is also home to those frogs and snakes.
Environmental organizations including the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Wild Equity Institute sued the city in March 2011, alleging course maintenance and golf carts were putting the animals in harm's way.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston dismissed the case Thursday following a ruling by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that determined that golf wouldn't jeopardize the endangered animals.
Plaintiffs' attorneys were not immediately available for comment.
The city will be subject to mandatory restrictions on pesticides, golf cart use, water pumping and other practices to limit the impact on the frogs and snakes.
The city plans to reconfigure the park, including moving some holes, improving drainage and linking two ponds that serve as red-legged frog habitat.
"This is a commonsense result," said Chris Carr of the Morrison & Foerster law office, which represented the San Francisco Public Golf Alliance, in a statement. "And it should lead to a period of cooperation in which San Francisco and San Mateo County can work together to restore habitat for the species, while preserving historic and popular public recreation."
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5) Real Life 'Snakes On A Plane' Unfolds Over Egypt As Man Is Bitten By A Loose Cobra
12/5/12, International Business Times, by Eric Brown
A real-life “Snakes on a Place” scenario broke out in the skies over Egypt Monday when a cobra bit a man during an Egypt Air flight from Cairo to Kuwait.
Samuel L. Jackson was not around to help an Australian pilot who found himself in a real life "Snakes on a Plane" scare.
The cobra broke loose on the plane after being smuggled aboard by 48-year-old Jordanian passenger Akram Abdul Latif, who owns a shop in Kuwait selling reptiles as pets.
Latif had attempted to smuggle the snake through airport security in his carry-on bag. Apparently, the attempt was successful until the snake got free on the plane, the Jordan Times Reports.
Once the cobra escaped from Latif’s bag, the reptile shop owner attempted to wrestle with the snake and force it back in his bag. Unfortunately for Latif, the cobra bit him and fled underneath his seat.
No other passengers were injured in the snake attack, but several reported seeing the cobra pass underneath their seats.
After the other passengers reported the snake on the plane, the Egypt Air flight immediately made plans for an emergency landing in the resort town of Al Ghardaqa, located on the Red Sea. The town is away from Cairo, where the flight originated.
At Al Ghardaqa, Latif was rushed to a hospital, but he refused treatment, stating the cobra bite was only a minor injury. For reference, the New York Daily News notes that “Experts say that in some cases the cobra's venom can kill a man in under 15 minutes as it destroys nerve tissue and causes paralysis and death because of respiratory failure.”
Apparently, Latif insisted on taking the snake with him to the hospital and later on to Kuwait once he was released.
“He was bitten in his hand and after we administered first aid he insisted on taking the snake with him to Kuwait,” an Egypt Air official told the Jordan Times.
Once Latif and the cobra were safely off the plane, the flight, with 90 passengers, continued on to Kuwait without further trouble.
Samuel L. Jackson was not available for comment on the incident.
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6) Invasive Boa Constrictor Thriving on Puerto Rico
Press Release USGS Newsroom 11/29/2012
In partnership with: Universidad Interamerican De Pureto, University of Massachusetts Boston

MAYAGÜEZ, Puerto Rico— Non-native boa constrictors, which can exceed 10 feet and 75 pounds, have established a breeding population in Puerto Rico, one that appears to be spreading, according to research published in the journal Biological Invasions.
While boa constrictors and two species of pythons have established invasive populations in Florida, this research is the first to document a large constrictor species established in the United States or its territories outside of Florida. The new population appears to be spreading from its likely point of origin in the western part of the island around the city of Mayagüez. In the last year alone, more than 150 boas have been found in the wild on the island.
The established boa constrictor population likely originated with the pet trade. Genetic studies conducted by the researchers indicate that individual boas on the island are highly related and that the population probably originated with a small number of snakes. First-hand accounts from local officials suggest that newborn boas were released in Mayagüez in the early 1990s.
"Experience has shown that island ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to snake invasions, and unfortunately Puerto Rico has no natural predators that can keep the numbers of these prolific, snakes in check," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "Humans were responsible for introducing this scourge to the island, and are the only hope for mitigating the problem before it is too late for the native species."
Two snakes found some distance from the expanding Mayagüez population share genetic markers with that population, suggesting that people might be intentionally or unintentionally moving the snakes around the island. Such movement could potentially increase the rate of spread of this invasive snake. Because the snakes are secretive and difficult to spot, the researchers suspect the population size is large.
“We’ve learned from dealing with other invasive snakes that understanding the source of these populations and preventing spread as soon as possible is important to protect ecosystems," said USGS scientist and study co-author Bob Reed. "Once non-native snakes become established across a large area, especially in densely forested areas, they become much more difficult to find and almost impossible to eradicate."
Private ownership of boa constrictors and most other snake species is prohibited in Puerto Rico because of fears of non-native snakes becoming established.
The paper, "Genetic Analysis of a Novel Invasion of Puerto Rico by an Exotic Constricting Snake," was authored by R.G. Reynolds, University of Massachusetts, Boston; A.R. Puente-Rolón, Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, R.N. Reed, U.S. Geological Survey; and L.J. Revell, University of Massachusetts, Boston.
Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communications and Publishing
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr, MS 119
Reston, VA 20192
Robert Reed
Phone: 970-420-3044

Hannah Hamilton
Phone: 703-648-4356

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7) The Great Burmese Python Challenge: How Many Can You Kill?
By Terrence McCoy Thu., Dec. 6 2012 at 7:46 AM
Palm Baeach Broward Time Blog

From an Animal Planet Press Release

Let's rumble!
One month from now, something very unusual -- and very, very Florida -- will occur in the Everglades, representing a metaphoric clash of man and beast: the Burmese python challenge. Its requests are simple. Kill as many snakes as you can.

No, no, no. Don't worry. You don't need a hunting license or anything. Just your wits and, if possible, a sharp object. Preferably a giant knife for decapitating purposes. Bring the kids! Make this a family day. There are indeed educational opportunities to be had. The day of the challenge, January 12, will also feature a tutorial on how to "dispatch" the vermin, which apparently requires much wrangling and, ultimately, one dead giant snake.
Many of the specifics haven't been ironed out, said Carli Segelson, spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. As in: Just how, specifically, will a bunch of hunters trap and kill the animals? Is this dangerous? Does this event somehow channel the Florida ethos?
"I don't even know how to answer that," she said.
Instead we talked a great deal about dead snakes. And that the only good Burmese python is, in fact, a dead Burmese python.
And let's not coddle the snake. Its mass slaughter couldn't be more necessary, Segelson said. Over the past generation, the Burmese python -- an invasive species -- has decimated the Everglades' natural fauna. It has gobbled up millions of other animals unique to their environs.
And now, it's time to fight back. With knives and shotguns and something Segelson called a "captive bolt," which Wikipedia translates to a "device used for stunning animals prior to slaughter."
So mark your calenders, grab yo' huntin' knife, and get into the Everglades. The person who snares the largest snake will collect a grand prize of $1,500. And think of all the captive bolts you could buy with that.
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8) Kane: Diving for Turtles-Lake Champlain
12/04/12 Go to http://www.vpr.net/episode/54936/kane-d ... r-turtles/
to listen or download and there is a video
By Adam Kane, Produced by Betty Smith-Mastaler, Vermont Public Radio

(Host) Lately, commentator Adam Kane, Co-Director of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, has been reflecting on things lost and found - in Lake Champlain.
(Kane) The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's dive team has a saying: the lake does not give up her secrets easily. Or to paraphrase a more popular expression, sometimes despite our best efforts working in her cold, dark waters, what happens in Lake Champlain stays in Lake Champlain.
For six years we've been working with a team studying the behavior of rare spiny soft shell turtles in Lake Champlain's Missisquoi Bay. Due to human disturbance, loss of habitat, and nest predation, this unique turtle is threatened in Vermont and Canada. For nearly a decade, a handful of turtles have been tagged with transmitters and followed to learn how best to protect them.
In the fall, these turtles burrow under the lake bottom to hibernate. Using the transmitters, each turtle's location is determined within a few feet. A diver then descends to the quiet and featureless lake bottom to search for the turtle's hiding place. When the diver finds a likely lump, they carefully dig up the large, often unhappily thrashing turtle. In an instant the peaceful dive becomes a heart pounding wildlife wrestling match. Fortunately the turtle's disturbance is swift; a few measurements and a fresh transmitter, and it gets released back into the lake for its winter sleep.
As usual, while diving this fall I took dutiful notes in my logbook, which is a Rite in the Rain number 373 (yes, I'm that particular about the brand and model). In these ever-present logbooks I record any secrets the lake cares to yield during dive projects, in this case each turtle's location, dive times, and distinctive turtle nature. There's the reclusive North Hero turtle who winters well south of the other turtles; year after year she shows particular irascibility at being dug up. Or the "River Turtle", who in the past hibernated in the Missisquoi River close to the hustle and bustle of downtown Swanton, but chose this year to sleep instead in Missisquoi Bay with her compatriots.
Though we've always eventually located all the tagged turtles, this fall went particularly quickly: we successfully located ten turtles in only two days. As the diving came to a close, I was buoyed by how quickly the lake had given up her secrets. For once, locating something in Lake Champlain had seemed relatively easy.
But the lake always strongly encourages humility.
When we got to shore my precious logbook was nowhere to be found. It had been inside my clipboard along with my camera and car keys. It must have fallen overboard. Frantic searching was followed by a desperate dive, to no avail.
Having spent a career looking for objects lost underwater, I knew the log was gone. And as the weak November sun set on Missisquoi Bay, I thought of my log sitting on the dark lake bottom, now an object of curiosity to its former subjects.
The lake does not give up her secrets easily after all - and sometimes she takes them back.
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9) Some in Congress oppose wider ban on big snakes
By William E. Gibson, Washington Bureau, November 29, 2012

WASHINGTON D.C. -- The monstrous snakes that have invaded the Everglades and gobbled up some of its endangered wildlife are Florida's problem, not cause for a nationwide ban, some Republicans in Congress declared on Thursday.
Their staunch opposition greatly diminishes the chances that Congress will approve a bill to broaden the ban on invasive snakes that was proposed by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, and supported by proponents of Everglades restoration.
Opponents cited evidence that these snakes die in cold weather and cannot move farther north to threaten other parts of the country. They said a nationwide ban on importation and interstate sales would thwart pet owners and pinch the livelihoods of sellers and breeders.
"Florida is handling a Florida problem that only exists in Florida," U.S. Rep. John Fleming, R-La., chairman of the House subcommittee on fisheries and wildlife, told witnesses at a hearing on Thursday.
The chairman mocked testimony that Burmese Pythons have rebounded from cold snaps, have killed several young children and could thrive in parts of Texas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and semi-tropical U.S. territories. He also dismissed warnings that global warming will increase the range of deadly snakes and other invasive species.
"I think the worry, the threat, that in the next few years we're going to have reptiles on our doorsteps in Washington, D.C., is a little overblown," Fleming said.
A Florida member, U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, dismissed the proposed ban as "a solution in search of a problem." He said the bill amounts to an egregious attempt by an over-bearing government to rein in helpless small businesses, jeopardizing a $1.4-billion reptile industry.
"I'm dumbfounded," Southerland said. "We got bigger fish to fry here than to target businesses. It's open season on businesses. It's open season on enterprise, on freedom."
With as many as 100,000 snakes infesting the Glades, the U.S. Interior Department already has issued an administrative rule to ban importation and interstate sales of the Burmese python, northern and southern African python and the yellow anaconda.
Rooney and Everglades promoters hope to put that ban into law and expand it to include five more species: the reticulated python, boa constrictor, DeSchauensee's anaconda, green anaconda and Beni anaconda.
Environmentalists say these snakes kill endangered wildlife in Florida and undermine a multi-billion-dollar restoration of the Everglades.
"If we are trying to restore the ecosystem for wading birds adapted to the Everglades and we have invasives countering those measures, that's a big problem," Julie Hill-Gabriel, director of Everglades policy for Audubon Florida, said after the hearing.
She also warned that widespread publicity about pythons and other snakes in the 'Glades have discouraged tourism.
"We have some people no longer willing to visit because they are just afraid," Hill-Gabriel said. "The world knows the Everglades have a snake problem, and we need to show we are taking action."
The current ban and proposed expansion would not solve the immediate problem, which is how to eradicate the estimated 30,000 to 100,000 invasive snakes already in the Everglades.
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10) Hundreds of Reptiles Seized by Customs
Bangkok Post, 12/5/12 (No author given)

Customs officials intercepted more than 340 turtles and 65 snakes, geckos, and chameleons in two separate smuggling attempts at Suvarnabhumi airport yesterday.
The turtles were kept in 50 boxes transported from Chon Buri province to the airport early yesterday, said Yuthana Limkaroon, deputy chief of the Department of Customs.
The driver told the police that he was not aware the boxes contained protected wild animals, he said.
Mr Yutthana said PYS International Agency Limited, the export company, told customs the 50 boxes contained vegetables destined for Hong Kong.
It was the second-largest batch of smuggled turtles found by customs and wildlife authorities this year, Mr Yutthana said.
In April, authorities confiscated 500 turtles at the airport before they could be smuggled out of the country.
In another wildlife smuggling case, customs officials seized 65 geckos, chameleons and snakes which were hidden in the luggage of a 30-year-old Kuwaiti passenger.
The man was about to board a plane to Doha, Qatar. He was charged with attempting to smuggle wildlife out of the country without permission.

This rare turtle was among a large wildlife haul seized by customs authorities at Suvarnabhumi airport on Dec 4, 2012. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
The interceptions were made on the same day as Suvarnabhumi airport and the Freeland Foundation launched the iTHINK campaign to raise public awareness about wildlife protection.
Suvarnabhumi's deputy general manager Ittipol Boonaree said the airport has offered full cooperation in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade.
He said an average of 50 wildlife trafficking cases were intercepted at the airport per year.
"In one case, a wildlife trafficker tranquilised tiger cubs and put them in a suitcase with tiger dolls, but the airport authorities were able to determine they were real tigers," Mr Ittipol said.
"This case made us realise the smugglers will try every means to get these animals in and out the country," he added.
Steven Galster, Freeland Foundation's executive director, said the iTHINK campaign is part of an activity to promote the 16th Conference of the Parties to the the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora to be held in Bangkok in March.
The campaign will gather opinions from well-known people on why they think wildlife smuggling must be stopped.
"People know wildlife smuggling is not good, but there is no explanation why people should stop consuming wildlife products," he said.
"It is simply a case of getting across the message of why we need to change our behaviour."
Kristie Kenney, United States Ambassador to Thailand and a presenter of the iTHINK campaign, said wildlife trafficking is a global crime that all countries need to resolve together.
The US parliament has raised its concerns about wildlife conservation by raising awareness with the public, she said.
Damrong Pidech, former chief of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and also an iTHINK presenter, said the government had not done enough to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade and to ensure the protection of wild species.
He called on the government to provide more support to wildlife officials working in the field.
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More Great Books on Herps. Remember All profits go to Help Herpdigest
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Malformed Frogs: The Collapse of Aquatic Ecosystems, by Michael Lannoo, 270 pages, Original Price $65.00 Now $30.00 plus $6.00 S&H
(Classic Book on Outbreak of Deformed Frogs)
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Frogs & Toads Of North America-Photos of 100 frogs and toads and all their calls on a CD by Lang Elliott, Carl Gerhardt and Carlos Davidson, 350 pages, glossy, full color. List price $30.00 Now $19.95) Plus $6.00 S&H
Brush up on your Frog Calling ID Ability Now to Get Ready for Spring.
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Firefly Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians, 2nd Edition, General Editor Chris Mattison, 240 glossy pages, Oversize Book Once $50.00 - Now $30.00 Plus $12.00 S&H-
Great Holiday Gift for that Budding Herper in the House.
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The Lizard King, by Bryan Christy, 256 Pages, Hardcover-List Price $25.00 Sale $12.00 per book. $6.00 for S&H.
Movie Version in Works, They’ve already made Major Changes to Story - They’ve switched the USF&WS Officer who Goes After Mike Van Nostrand from a male to a female and calling it a romcom adventure story.

Read the original. The true story.

Summary of original story--Albino pythons, endangered lizards and other reptiles are the currency of an underworld as dangerous and lucrative as the drug trade. Freelance writer Christy's debut is an enthusiastic chronicle of the rise and fall of a lizard kingpin and the federal agent who pursued him. Mike Van Nostrand inherited Strictly Reptiles, an import-export business in Florida, from his father, Ray, turning it into a multimillion-dollar smuggling operation. Van Nostrand imported reptiles of all shapes and sizes, usually concealed in the suitcases or clothing of his mules, and sold them to collectors and pet stores. He exploited loopholes in the international treaty on endangered-species trade and paid off corrupt officials._____________
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Invasive Pythons in the United States- Ecology of an Introduced Predator
Michael E. Dorcas and John D. Willson, Foreword by Whit Gibbons
The first detailed, comprehensive study of this invasive predator
Page count: 176, 188 color photos, 8 maps, 1 table, 7 figures
Paperback, c2011, Was $25.00 Now Just $15.00 plus add $6.00 for shipping and handling.

With Hearings going on in Congress on Python Laws a Highly Timely Book
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Turtles of the United States and Canada by Carl H. Ernst and Jeffrey E. Lovich
List Price: $98.00, (Hardcover) 840 pages
The Johns Hopkins University Press; Second edition

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[A] monumental work... the standard reference to North American turtles for the next generation of biologists. Every serious vertebrate biologist on the continent will want a copy. (Herpetological Review )
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In 1972, C. H. Ernst completed the daunting task of compiling a sequel to A. F. Carr's (1952) landmark Handbook of Turtles. Two decades later, Ernst, this time with assistance from former student and fellow cheloniophile J. E. Lovich, has done it again. (Copeia )
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Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico volumes 1 and 2 -$75.00 each book, $13.00 S&H for both books, $6.00 S&H for only one book.

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NOW COMES PART II

Carl and Evelyn Ernst have completely revised their landmark reference Venomous Reptiles of North America to present the most comprehensive review of these animals in years. A review that now needs two volumes to complete. ;Volume One of this definitive work presented dramatically improved species accounts of the venomous lizards and elapid and viperid snakes found north of Mexico's twenty-fifth parallel.

In Volume Two they cover the twenty-one rattlesnakes found in the United States, Canada, and, for the first time, species found only in northern Mexico.

In Volume II they present the latest research on Crotalus in the United States, Canada, and northern Mexico and featurean extensive bibliography of literature on the subject.

These volumes contain a wealth of information for anyone with an interest in venom, snakes, or herpetology in general.

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico Volume I & II, provides facts on each animal's diet, reproductive behavior, physiology, ecology, and conservation status. The book also covers details on snakebite, how venom is delivered, venom composition, antivenom production, and medical treatments of envenomation. Each species account includes vivid photographs that aid with identification and detailed maps that show the species range.

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Re: Herp- Digest Newsletter

Postby Philsuma » Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:28 pm

Volume # 12 Issue # 58 12/17/12
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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“The Most Comprehensive Turtle Book.”
TURTLES, TORTOISES AND TERRAPINS- A Natural History -Revised, Expanded and Updated by Ronald Orenstein, 448 pages, that’s 150 more than the first edition, 9" X 11",more than 300 full color photographs, range maps, bibliography, index
AND YES EVEN IF YOU HAVE COPIES OF THE FIRST EDITION YOU SHOULD GET THE 2ND EDITION, IT’S A WHOLE NEW BOOK.
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HEALTH CARE AND REHABILITATION OF TURTLES AND TORTOISES
An excellent, must have for every turtle owner and every turtle & wildlife rehabilitator
Covers everything from general information such as: turtle anatomy, diet, stress, hibernation, brumation, outdoor and indoor enclosures and more --- to over 250 pages on shell fractures, tube feeding, bacterial and viral diseases, parasites, diagnostics, antibiotics in chelonians, and with supporting photographs. The author took great time and care to translate her and others experiences in turtle rehabilitation without the jargon, so all turtle owners enthusiasts can understand.
Full-color photographs. (2012) 393 pp. Softcover, by Amanda Ebenhack $39.85 plus $6.00 S&H see below on how to order (Overseas email us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org or S&H price)
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Table of Contents:
1) Frog-In-Bucket-Of-Milk Folklore Leads to Potential New Antibiotics
2) Butler’s garter snake snarling spit lands development
3) Consumers beware: is your pet legal? Example Horsefield’s (Russian) Tortoise is not
4) Rescue Dogs Sniff for Salamanders to Save Rare Species and Help People
5) Cane Toads Can Be Stopped
6) Hunting the Dangerous Nile Crocodile in South Florida
7) Saving turtles has become a lifelong passion
8) Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo Announces Hatching of Extremely Rare Turtle Species- Hatching of five Chinese yellow-headed box turtles is a part of the WCS strategy to save the most critically endangered turtles-Fewer than 150 Chinese yellow-headed box turtles remain in the wild

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“THE TORTOISE” The Turtle Conservancy’s -For Members Only-New Periodical Publication (But it’s not just about Tortoises).
HerpDigest has Gained Access to a Limited Number of the Very First issue of the Turtle Conservancy’s New Periodical Publication “The Tortoise.” Recently available only to members. And they are going fast.
According to the Turtle Conservancy, by publishing “The Tortoise” on a yearly basis, it will keep it relevant by containing more in-depth information on the latest work being done to save turtles and tortoises all over the world than any other publication.
Issue # 1, is an excellent example of this, with it’s 160 pages, 100 color photos and 14 reports and stories on the work done and that needs to be done, on a number of threatened and critically endangered species from around the globe:
Ranging from the highlands of Southeast Asia, home to two primitive tortoises of the genus Manouria, to the restricted range of the Geometric Tortoise (Psammobates geometricus) in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, to the West Coast of the US home of the Pacific Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata), to the cryptic wood turtles (Rhinoclemmys sp.) of Mexico, and almost everywhere in between.
The first issue is only $20.00 plus $6.00 for S&H. As all always contact us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org for overseas shipping costs.
Check out the Herp magnets and Herp diplomas -Turtle University, Snake University, Iguana University- and more at www.herpdigest.org
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1) Frog-In-Bucket-Of-Milk Folklore Leads to Potential New Antibiotics
Dec. 12, 2012 — Following up on an ancient Russian way of keeping milk from going sour -- by putting a frog in the bucket of milk -- scientists have identified a wealth of new antibiotic substances in the skin of the Russian Brown frog. The study appears in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research.
A. T. Lebedev and colleagues explain that amphibians secrete antimicrobial substances called peptides through their skin. These compounds make up the majority of their skin secretions and act as a first line of defense against bacteria and other microorganisms that thrive in the wet places frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians live. A previous study identified on the skin of the Russian Brown frog 21 substances with antibiotic and other potential medical activity. Lebedev's team set out to find more of these potential medical treasures.
They used a sensitive laboratory technique to expand the list of such substances on the frogs' skin, identifying 76 additional substances of this kind. They describe lab tests in which some of the substances performed as well against Salmonella and Staphylococcus bacteria as some prescription antibiotic medicines. "These peptides could be potentially useful for the prevention of both pathogenic and antibiotic resistant bacterial strains while their action may also explain the traditional experience of rural populations," the scientists concluded.
Journal Reference:
1. T. Yu. Samgina, E. A Vorontsov, V. A. Gorshkov, E. Hakalehto, O. Hanninen, R. A. Zubarev, A. T. Lebedev. Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of the Skin Peptidome of Russian Brown FrogRana temporaria. Journal of Proteome Research, 2012; : 121113155850001 DOI: 10.1021/pr300890m
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2) Butler’s garter snake snarling spit lands development
By Cathy Dobson, Sarnia Observer, Sunday, December 9, 2012
It could be a hissss...torical agreement with far-reaching implications for waterfront development in Point Edward.
City councillors will be asked Monday to allow Sarnia’s Canatara Park to play host to a number of endangered snakes currently populating the village’s “spit lands.”
The presence of the endangered Butler’s garter snake on the undeveloped peninsula that juts into the St. Clair River south of Purdy’s Fisheries is an impediment to future growth.
Cantaqleigh Investments owns the spit lands and announced a housing/retail/hotel complex development seven years ago.
But plans for the 40-acre site stalled when the rare Butler’s garter snake was discovered there. They are found in fewer than 50 Ontario sites and their habitat is protected under the Endangered Species Act of 2007. Butler’s are relatively small, growing up to 20 inches long, and feed on worms.
Cantaqleigh hired consulting firm Aecom and worked with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) to find a solution.
The MNR is now recommending the spit land snakes be relocated to Canatara Park where a population of Butler’s already exists.
City staff have written a report saying they like the idea and that all costs associated with moving and keeping the snakes at Canatara will be borne by Cantaqleigh.
The report says the MNR believes relocation to Canatara is a viable option that will protect the species in the longterm.
A large portion of Canatara Park south of Cathcart Boulevard is suitable habitat for the snakes. The proposal also calls for conversion of 1.4 hectares of the park into a meadow habitat.
If approves by council, Cantaqleigh would pay for enhancements to the park that include: control of invasive plant species, creation of a low meadow habitat, construction of a two-metre hole filled with logs and old wood for snake hibernation, and brush piles.
Mayor Mike Bradley said he’s in favour of the snake relocation.
“Council should co-operate and allow the development in Point Edward to proceed,” he said. “It’s a reasonable request.”
As recently as June, Cantaqleigh director Gerry Lee said his company is still committed to the spit lands project “with some minor adjustments.”
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3) Consumers beware: is your pet legal?
Horsfield's Tortoise: a popular pet, but buyers should check the animals are legally sourced
Cambridge, UK, 10 December 2012—Consumers buying pets should be aware of a new phenomenon, whereby the animals on sale are actually illegally sourced from the wild rather than legally captive bred.
In recent years, TRAFFIC has been gathering evidence of the laundering of animals collected from the wild, but declared as “bred in captivity” to evade international regulatory controls such as CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
Many of the animal species are popular as pets, including tortoises, turtles, birds, frogs, lizards, snakes and some mammals.
Examples include Horsfield’s Tortoise Testudo horsfieldii and the Spiny Turtle Heosemys spinosa, both classified by IUCN as threatened with extinction in the wild.
Following an EU ban on imports of wild Horsfield’s Tortoises, more than 40,000 reportedly captive-bred tortoises were exported from the Ukraine to the EU between 2000 and 2006, despite no history of such trade prior to the ban.
In Germany, a consignment including 119 Green Tree Pythons Morelia viridis destined for the pet trade was confiscated after expert investigation revealed the presence of ticks and mites more closely associated with animals found in the wild than in captivity.
Last month, a criminal gang in The Netherlands was arrested because of concerns over the origin of hundreds of animals including tortoises and birds found on their premises.
Such cases are all indicative of the ongoing laundering of wild-caught animals into legal trade.
To help raise awareness of the growing phenomenon, TRAFFIC has compiled a short illustrated publication (PDF, 3.5 MB) detailing a number of such examples, based on analysis of trade data.
The leaflet will be distributed to help consumers make informed choices about animals they intend to buy and to ask the right questions of the retailers.
“Anyone thinking of buying a pet this Christmas should first consider whether it could have been sourced from the wild, and if in any doubt, should contact their national CITES management authority for advice,” said Vicki Crook, Programme Officer for TRAFFIC Europe.
Each government that becomes a Party to CITES designates both Scientific and Management Authorities to apply the rules of the Convention. Contact information for these authorities can be found on the CITES website.
“Most responsible pet owners would be devastated if they discovered they had inadvertently supported wildlife crime or that their purchase had helped make a wild animal more threatened in its natural habitat,” said Crook.
“Purchasers’ concern creates a powerful incentive for suppliers to ensure they have evidence their animals for sale are legally sourced.”
Have you seen animals for sale and suspect the seller/breeder may not be declaring their true origin? If so, please contact TRAFFIC at teur@traffic.org or your local TRAFFIC office.
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4) Rescue Dogs Sniff for Salamanders to Save Rare Species and Help People
Posted by Bruce Hill, Santa Fe National Forest and Ellita Willis, Office of Communication, US Forest Service, on December 12, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Shelter dogs that are often rejected are getting a new lease on life. Plus they’re helping wildlife and people! These conservation canines climbed the Jemez Mountains, clambering over rocks, running from smell to smell, to track where rare Jemez salamanders, a species found nowhere else in the world, are living in New Mexico.
This summer, the Santa Fe National Forest, along with many partners collaborated to bring two trained canines to the forest to locate the salamanders. The dogs were deployed to the Jemez Mountains during a monsoon as salamanders can be found more easily during the rainy season. The furry tracking specialists’ service is critical to the future of Jemez salamanders and our forests. The warmer, drier climate in New Mexico has impacted the habitat, threatening their survival.
Because salamanders are succumbing to warmer temperatures and drought conditions, their population has drastically declined. Between the two dogs, and with human assistance, only seven of the salamanders were found during the latest search effort. By mapping the salamanders, scientists will be able to create a land management plan that will help salamanders, as well as the forests we all depend on for clean water supplies and recreation. The work includes restoring the forest, woodlands and streams.
Project partners plan to bring the dogs back in the spring or summer of 2013. The partnering agencies involved in the effort include: Santa Fe National Forest, The Nature Conservancy, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, US Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Arizona, the Pueblo of Jemez, New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute and the Valles Caldera Trust in the Jemez Mountains.
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5) Cane Toads Can Be Stopped
Dec. 12, 2012 — It may be possible to stop the spread of can toads into new areas of Australia according to new research published December 12 in the Journal of Applied Ecology.
One of the lead authors of the study, James Cook University's Dr Ben Phillips, said that their work, which involved an international team of scientists, showed that artificial waterbodies installed by graziers acted as critical stepping-stones for the toad invasion.
"By removing these waterbodies in key locations it is possible to halt the spread of toads," he said.
Cane toads are currently spreading into the vast Kimberley region of north-western Australia and will likely completely occupy this region within ten years.
"This conquest has not gone unchallenged, but massive efforts by community groups over the past five years have done nothing to stop or even slow the invasion of toads," Dr Phillips said.
"The reason for this failure is that toads produce 10-30 thousand eggs at a time and can move very large distances, so removing enough individuals to slow their invasion is effectively an impossible task."
Dr Phillips said that "by removing around 100 artificial waterbodies, toads can be prevented from occupying 268,000 square kilometres of their potential range in Western Australia, which is an area larger than Great Britain."
Stopping the invasion of toads into Australia's Pilbara region would protect numerous species, including northern Quolls (an endangered cat-sized marsupial carnivore) and many species of goannas and snakes, which are badly affected when toads invade.
"While we have shown that it is possible to stop toads, actually doing so is going to require a lot of community support as well as serious financial compensation to any graziers that are affected by modifications to their stock watering systems," Dr Phillips said
"We have shown that stopping toads is possible, but the exact details of how to implement our plan are still to be worked out."
Cane toads, one of the world's worst invasive species, have proved difficult to stop. In Australia, where they were introduced in 1935, they have spread to occupy more than 1.3 million square kilometres and have had major impacts on many native species. Their spread continues across northern Australia at an accelerating rate.
Story Source:
The above story is reprinted from materials provided by British Ecological Society (BES).
Journal Reference:
1. Reid Tingley, Benjamin L. Phillips, Mike Letnic, Gregory P. Brown, Richard Shine and Stuart J. E. Baird. Identifying optimal barriers to halt the invasion of cane toads Rhinella marina in arid Australia. Journal of Applied Ecology, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12021

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6) Hunting the Dangerous Nile Crocodile in South Florida
12/12/12 Curtis Morgan | The Miami Herald
MIAMI — Wildlife biologist Joe Wasilewski has hauled many scaly creatures out of South Florida lakes, canals and marshes over the years.
But the snappish 4-footer he snared at the Redland Fruit & Spice Park was an unsettling surprise. It was a young crocodile, but not the typically timid native species. This was a Nile croc, infamous for its appetite for humans and savage attacks on wildebeest and other large animals along African rivers and watering holes.
The capture late last year appears to have been the first sighting - at least officially - of a Nile croc in the wilds of Florida. It wasn't the last. In April, a botanist photographed a second Nile of similar size on a Krome Avenue canal bank, also in the Redland community south of Miami. After eluding capture for months, that croc is now in hiding, whereabouts unknown. A report of third, caught in the same area three years ago, has surfaced since.
In a state overrun with exotic invaders, even a few sightings of such an aggressive and dangerous animal have raised concerns with state and federal wildlife managers. In late August, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took the unusual step of authorizing a state shoot-to-kill request for a reptile technically protected under federal law because it is disappearing in its native range and on international threatened lists.
"It was a tough call but we wanted to use common sense," said Larry Williams, South Florida field supervisor for the service. "We've got a protected species but we've got it in a place where it's an exotic."
No one is predicting Nile crocs will become the next Burmese python, a once commonly sold pet that has settled into the Everglades as a damaging predator. But even a single Nile croc poses a potential threat if it grows to maturity, said Frank Mazzotti, a University of Florida wildlife ecologist helping search for that elusive canal croc.
Like the two that preceded it, authorities suspect the still-at-large crocodile escaped from a local breeder, probably as a hatchling.
Nile crocodiles typically grow larger than their Florida relatives, which top out at around 13 feet.
"A huge Nile or saltwater croc is 16 to 17 feet and probably three or four times the weight of an American crocodile," Mazzotti said. "If it got into a tug of war with a Volkswagen, the Volkswagen would probably lose."
But what really separates them from local boys is their aggressive nature and habit of stalking and killing large prey, including humans.
They're annually blamed for hundreds of deadly attacks in Africa.
American crocs, largely confined to isolated coastal mangroves in South Florida, tend to steer clear of people. Like any large predator, of course, they can be dangerous. American crocs have been implicated in occasional fatal attacks in South and Central America. But they're pussy cats in comparison to Nile crocs, said Wasilewski, a consulting biologist and veteran reptile wrangler based in South Miami-Dade. With the small but sudden uptick in sightings, he said the biggest worry is whether more than one Nile could be out there, undetected.
"It's a frightening situation," Wasilewski said.
Wildlife managers haven't issued public statements about the Nile captures or sightings. But on Aug. 23, Nick Wiley, executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, wrote federal wildlife managers asking approval to shoot a Nile croc that had eluded repeated efforts to trap it alive. Though federally protected, he wrote, it might pose a threat to humans and was "known to be capable of unpredictable violent attacks."
The hope, he wrote, was to bag it before Hurricane Isaac, when water managers were scheduled to open flood gates that could flush the animal from a canal near Krome and Southwest 280th Street and allow it to escape, possibly into Biscayne Bay. Federal wildlife managers signed off on the so-called "lethal take" the next day but the croc hasn't been seen since.
Carli Segelson, an FWC spokeswoman, downplayed concerns over a single problematic croc, one too small to pose much of a threat to people for several more years.
"At this point, it's really premature to speculate," she said. "We don't even know if this animal is still out there. This particular crocodile is a juvenile. It's not yet of breeding age."
Segelson said FWC officers are still investigating where the crocs have come from but letters between the wildlife agencies point to an escape from an unnamed captive breeding facility.
It's illegal to own or breed Nile crocs without a state-issued Class 1 wildlife permit, which sets enclosure, safety and other standards for people who want to keep lions, Komodo dragons and other wildlife that "pose a significant danger to people."
According to FWC records, the closest licensed facility to the Redland park is operated by Jose Novo, who said he has safely raised gators and crocs for years.
Novo, who manages Everglades Safari Park, a tourist attraction on Tamiami Trail, acknowledged a visit from FWC officers but said his property met all fencing and other requirements. He said he was not issued a violation notice but was asked to install mesh along the fence bottom as a precaution against hatchlings crawling through chain-link openings.
Novo, who said he has one of the largest private collections of crocodilians in the U.S. and once hoped to open a park called Predator World to educate the public, insists he's had no escapes and always collects eggs before they hatch.
"I have probably the safest facility around," he said. Novo believes the crocs might have been released by unlicensed owners who illegally obtained eggs or hatchlings.
Chris Rollins, manager of the Fruit & Spice Park, initially figured the intruder was a small American croc or a spectacled Caiman, a smaller South American species imported for the pet trade that also has become established in South Miami-Dade. But as it fattened up, growing to four feet, Rollins said it became more threatening so he called Wasilewski to remove it. Wasilewski, who has a Class 1 permit, added the small croc to his own collection.
"It was already pretty darned feisty," Rollins said. "Normally, a gator or crocodile that size would disappear if you got near it. This one was really a little more snappish and aggressive."
According to a database of invasive species sightings maintained since 1991 by the United States Geological Survey, Wasilewski's catch was the first Nile croc found in Florida and second in the United States.
The only other reported sightings came in 1998 when Hurricane Georges flooded an alligator farm in Mississippi, allowing five Nile crocs to escape, according to the USGS. All were reported quickly recaptured.
Wildlife managers, however, admit records are sketchy. Segelson said the FWC wasn't aware of any previous Nile releases but staff members would have to go through old, hand-written notes to be certain.
Bob Freer, owner of Everglades Outpost, a wildlife sanctuary and attraction in Homestead, said the official list is missing a Nile he caught three year earlier about a quarter mile from the Fruit & Spice Park. He said he reported the animal, which the keeps penned up as part of the Nile crocodile exhibit at the Everglades Alligator Farm attraction in Florida City, to a now-retired FWC officer. But the capture does not show up in federal or state invasive species databases.
Nor did a Nile croc nicknamed Houdini, a former escapee from the Billie Swamp Safari on the Seminole Tribe's Big Cypress reservation near Clewiston.
In a 2010 episode of the Nat Geo Wild series "Swamp Men" reality series based there, the staff recaptured the 9-footer, which the show claimed had lived in the Big Cypress swamp for years. Seminole spokesman Gary Bitner said Houdini had indeed lived in the wild for nearly a decade but never strayed far. Houdini, along with other Nile crocs once on display at the attraction, have since been relocated to facilities off the reservation, he said.
Freer, who has caught an array of exotic reptiles in South Miami-Dade, believes the state's caging standards for croc breeders aren't strong enough - particularly for hatchlings.
"They don't need the mother to survive," he said.
Mazzotti, the UF crocodile expert, agrees sub-tropical South Florida offers young crocs the same sort of climate and habitat that has nurtured Burmese pythons and so many other exotics.
"Nile crocodiles live at the same latitude in Africa that alligators do here, so watch out if they get established," he said.
Though the Nile croc may have fled the canal it once occupied, Mazzotti believes there is a good chance it is still alive. At 4 feet, he said, about the only Everglades predators capable of killing it are adult alligators or other crocs, which juveniles tend to avoid.
For now, scientists see little risk of Niles colonizing the Everglades. It took decades of periodic releases by pet owners and escapes from breeders to establish a breeding python population. There just aren't enough Niles to make a go of it, said Williams of the FWS.
Even if a few remain loose and undetected, "the chance of them actually finding each other and breeding is incredibly low," he said.
Though some species have been cross-bred, experts said differences between the Nile and American also make hybrid offspring highly unlikely.
Mazzotti said teams have spent well over 1,000 hours in weekly searches for the canal croc since the kill permit was issued in August. He credited agencies with taking steps before the threat becomes more serious.
"This is when we should take action with invasive species," he said.
"We shouldn't wait until they're out there in big numbers and breeding."
For people like Roger Hammer, a Redland resident who spends many of his off-hours canoeing and fishing in the Everglades, even one Nile is too many. Hammer, a longtime Miami-Dade parks naturalist, has helped Wasilewski on several hunts for the Nile croc. He's had a few too-close encounters with American crocs in the Glades, he said, including a massive one that shot from a bank in fear so swiftly it rocked his canoe.
"The first thing I thought was, 'Thank God, that wasn't a Nile croc,' " he said. "You've got at least one Nile croc out there in a canal that leads to the Everglades. As a canoeist, I'm certainly more than a little concerned."
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7) Saving turtles has become a lifelong passion
By Patricia Kochel, Ventura County Star, December 15, 2012

Meet Dave Friend. He and his wife, Maree, share their 12-acre property in Ojai with six dogs, four horses, one donkey, 12 peacocks and 200 turtles, weighing 2 ounces to more than 200 pounds.
Dave's love of turtles began in Missouri where box turtles are native. His grandmother, who helped raise him, taught him to respect nature so when he brought home a turtle, she let him keep it for a few days but insisted he then return it to the exact spot he found it. Then he'd find another.
At 17, he left home to find adventure. He had read Zane Grey and knew about the Oregon Trail, so that's where he went. He had little money and no job. He read in a Portland newspaper that pickers were wanted for work. He showed up and picked green beans — 25 cents for every five-gallon bucket — for two weeks.
He then again moved on, finding a job at Montgomery Ward, but because he hadn't yet graduated from high school, he needed a work permit from Missouri. His mother helped him get it.
While working at Montgomery Ward, he heard fellow employees talk about surfing trips to Southern California. California sounded "like a different planet," Dave said. He had to go. So he saved the money.
Two years after graduating from high school, he was in Huntington Park. He answered a help-wanted ad in the local newspaper for a job at a Dunn-Edwards paint store. He worked in their collections department for three years.
He loved California. "I felt a freedom I had never experienced. When I stood on the beach, it seemed as if the whole world was in front of me," he said.
On a Fourth of July weekend, he camped with friends at Lake Cachuma. In the next campsite, there was a "nice looking woman," Dave said, adding he decided to visit her while his friends fished. She lived in Ventura. He took a liking to Ventura's "beautiful beaches and hills," so when they got married they moved here.
Dave worked at various jobs. "Whenever I got bored at a job, I found another that was more challenging," he said.
He and Maree often visited friends and family in Missouri. They picked up damaged box turtles along the road. "So many get hit on the highway. We'd stop for the ones still moving, " he said.
They brought them home to heal. They started to meet people who raised turtles and eventually they began attending a turtle club at the Santa Barbara Humane Society. The two began to acquire more exotic turtles.
Finally, they joined the California Turtle and Tortoise Club, which has chapters all over the state. Dave is presently the executive chairman for the CTTC.
In 1996, while out on a Sunday drive they saw a for-sale sign off Creek Road. They drove in and, according to Dave, "It had everything we'd been looking for" so they bought it. Once they had the space, more animals showed up.
All his animals are rescued. Dave formed a corporation, Ojai Sulcata Project, Inc., "so I can ask for donations and do more for these animals," he said.
When asked what attracts him to turtles, he replied: "They have personality. They're curious."
His fascination with turtles has opened up new and different opportunities.
He has traveled to South Africa, Costa Rica and has met with Peter Pritchard and Ernst Baard, both "icons in the turtle world, " he said.
In viewing his mammoth turtle collection, I was amazed at the love and attention he and Maree give to these strange creatures from prehistoric times.
Talking to Dave certainly opened up a different opportunity for me: the turtle world.
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Patricia Kochel of Ventura, a former student assistance counselor at Buena High School, writes an occasional column for The Star focusing on ordinary residents.
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8) Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo Announces Hatching of Extremely Rare Turtle Species- Hatching of five Chinese yellow-headed box turtles is a part of the WCS strategy to save the most critically endangered turtles-Fewer than 150 Chinese yellow-headed box turtles remain in the wild

Bronx, NY – Dec., 17, 2012 – Five Chinese yellow-headed box turtles have hatched at the WCS Bronx Zoo. The hatchings are a part of WCS’s strategy to save some of the most critically endangered turtle species in the world.

Chinese yellow-headed box turtles are considered to be one of the 25 most endangered turtles in the world, with fewer than 150 individuals remaining in the wild.

The WCS strategy to save turtles draws on all of the resources and expertise across the institution – from its zoos and aquarium, Wildlife Health Program, and Global Conservation Programs. The plan involves preventing the extinction of at least half of the species appearing in a 2011 report by WCS and other groups that listed the 25 most endangered turtles and tortoises.

WCS will breed and reintroduce some species, develop assurance colonies (groups of animals maintained in our zoos or aquarium so that no genetic diversity is lost) for others, and protect another subset with field work. The recent hatchings at the Bronx Zoo will become a part of an assurance colony kept at the zoo.

“The success we are seeing in the early stages of this program is encouraging,” said Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President of Zoos and Aquarium and Bronx Zoo Director. “Over time, we hope to expand our turtle propagation work to extend to many of the most endangered species of turtles and tortoises. In implementing this strategy we will draw on the expertise found throughout the entire WCS organization as well as various partner organizations with whom we work.”

Chinese yellow-headed box turtles require the artificial manipulation of specific environmental and climatic conditions in order to be stimulated to breed. Experts at WCS’s Bronx Zoo were able to successfully recreate these conditions in propagation areas in the zoo’s Reptile House.

“The biology of the species requires the adults to hibernate prior to breeding,” said Don Boyer, Curator of Herpetology at WCS’s Bronx Zoo. “We carefully monitor the environment and gradually reduce the temperature in order to induce a natural state of hibernation. Following hibernation, turtle pairs are introduced and carefully monitored to watch for evidence of courtship and breeding activities.”

The Chinese yellow-headed box turtle once thrived in streams in the highlands of the Anhui Province of eastern China. The population collapsed due to human consumption, use in traditional medicine, pollution, habitat loss, and pet trade.

More than half of the world’s approximately 330 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises are threatened with extinction due to illegal trade and habitat loss. Most of the world’s turtle trade is driven by demand from China, specifically for human consumption, traditional medicines, and the pet trade.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Max Pulsinelli - 718-220-5182; mpulsinelli@wcs.org
Steve Fairchild – 718-220-5189; sfairchild@wcs.org

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Volume # 12 Issue # 59 12/21/12
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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“The Most Comprehensive Turtle Book.”
TURTLES, TORTOISES AND TERRAPINS- A Natural History -Revised, Expanded and Updated by Ronald Orenstein, 448 pages, that’s 150 more than the first edition, 9" X 11",more than 300 full color photographs, range maps, bibliography, index
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HEALTH CARE AND REHABILITATION OF TURTLES AND TORTOISES
An excellent, must have for every turtle owner and every turtle & wildlife rehabilitator
Covers everything from general information such as: turtle anatomy, diet, stress, hibernation, brumation, outdoor and indoor enclosures and more --- to over 250 pages on shell fractures, tube feeding, bacterial and viral diseases, parasites, diagnostics, antibiotics in chelonians, and with supporting photographs. The author took great time and care to translate her and others experiences in turtle rehabilitation without the jargon, so all turtle owners enthusiasts can understand.
Full-color photographs. (2012) 393 pp. Softcover, by Amanda Ebenhack $39.85 plus $6.00 S&H see below on how to order (Overseas email us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org or S&H price)

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Table of Contents
1) FREE - The State of Amphibians in the United States 2012, Muths, E.; Adams, M. J.; Grant, E. H. C.; Miller, D.; Corn, P. S.; Ball, L. C.
2) TSA Opens New Turtle and Tortoise Facilities in Myanmar
3) 2012’s Noteworthy Species-A roundup of species that made their scientific debut in 2012, and a few that said goodbye as well
4) Crayfish Harbor Fungus That's Wiping Out Amphibians
5) University of Idaho researchers monitor amphibians with eDNA
6) Partnership to help protect Madagascar’s amphibians
7) Amphibians yield new parasite species
8) Patient photographer catches unusual fin
9) Biologist makes leap with three-fingered frog discovery
10) Climate Change and this Year’s El Niño Effecting Costa Rica Amphibians
11) Rocky Mountain College student studies relationship between trout presence and frogs in Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness
12) What Does It Take to Fool a Snake? Send in the Robot Biologists Use Mechanical Squirrels, Frogs to Study Wildlife; 'Snooki' the Bird
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“THE TORTOISE” The Turtle Conservancy’s -For Members Only-New Periodical Publication (But it’s not just about Tortoises).
HerpDigest has Gained Access to a Limited Number of the Very First issue of the Turtle Conservancy’s New Periodical Publication “The Tortoise.” Recently available only to members. And they are going fast.
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Issue # 1, is an excellent example of this, with it’s 160 pages, 100 color photos and 14 reports and stories on the work done and that needs to be done, on a number of threatened and critically endangered species from around the globe:
Ranging from the highlands of Southeast Asia, home to two primitive tortoises of the genus Manouria, to the restricted range of the Geometric Tortoise (Psammobates geometricus) in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, to the West Coast of the US home of the Pacific Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata), to the cryptic wood turtles (Rhinoclemmys sp.) of Mexico, and almost everywhere in between.
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1) FREE - The State of Amphibians in the United States
2012, Muths, E.; Adams, M. J.; Grant, E. H. C.; Miller, D.; Corn, P. S.; Ball, L. C.
USGS Fact Sheet: 2012-3092

• Full-text PDF at http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/fs20123092
• The document and additional supplemental information are available at the index page for this publication
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2) TSA Opens New Turtle and Tortoise Facilities in Myanmar

by Rick Hudson December 13, 2012
It’s official!! Myanmar’s first turtle and tortoise rescue facility was dedicated on December 6, at the Zeepin Forest Reserve, Ban Bwe Tree Nursery, about 17 miles east of May Myo, in Shan State. TSA President Rick Hudson handed over the keys to the new Turtle Rescue Center (TRC) to U Myint Sein of the Forestry Department saying “It is our sincere hope that this facility will offer new hope to thousands of turtles and tortoises confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade.” The TRC is located along the Lashio Road which leads to China, and is a major trade route for illegally harvested wildlife coming out of Mandalay heading for the border. Lashio was originally selected as the site for the TRC but plans changed due to logistical concerns and moved to a forestry station outside of May Myo, locally known as Pwin Oo Lwin. Aside from being more accessible (just an hour drive from Mandalay), the climate here is moderate and more conducive to animal rescue. The TRC was designed in May 2012 by a TSA team consisting of Cris Hagen (Director of Animal Management), Bill Holmstrom (Board Member), Shailendra Singh (Director TSA India), Kalyar Platt (Director TSA Myanmar) and Rick Hudson.
The central unit of the TRC is an 800 square foot open-air building designed for treating and handling large numbers of chelonians. Tubs and sinks are built in to the counter tops, equipped with hoses and shower heads, and there is room for holding plastic tubs and tanks with turtles. The water supply is spring fed to a holding cistern, and then pumped to an elevated tank, and gravity fed to the facility. Just outside the treatment facility are 10 fenced enclosures, each 25 x 20 ft, with shade and secure retreats for terrestrial turtles and tortoises. For the time being, aquatic turtles will be managed in large plastic tubs until funds can be found for permanent pools. Confiscations will be managed by Forestry Department staff stationed at the site, some of who were trained in chelonian husbandry at the recent star tortoise workshop at Lawkanandar Wildlife Sanctuary. The TSA / Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) turtle team will provide management, oversight and logistical support. Local veterinary support will be provided by veterinarians from the zoos in Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw, both of which are trained in the care and handling of turtle confiscations. The TSA plans to conduct training workshops at the TRC on chelonian husbandry and veterinary care in the future, and our ultimate goal is that the TRC will become the central base of operations for the TSA / WCS turtle conservation team.
Once fully operational, the new TRC will likely see a lot of activity. We predict the number of turtle confiscations will increase now that the Forestry Department has a place to bring the shipments. The TRC will greatly improve the process for handling these trade seizures; in the past, animals were temporarily held in warehouses or whatever space was available, and then taken out and released en masse without regard for habitat suitability. With the TRC, animals will be allowed to stabilize and be treated for dehydration and whatever injuries they may have, and given time to recover while decisions are made for their placement or release. Some key species, Arakan Forest Turtles (Heosemys depressa) for example, will be incorporated into existing Assurance Colonies; most however will be released into semi-natural areas or protected areas. The WCS – TSA team is actively surveying potential sites where confiscated chelonians can be repatriated.
The Center also supports an Assurance Colony facility for Burmese Mountain Tortoises (Manouria e. phayrei). Located in a wooded section of the park the facility, across the stream from the TRC, is a 4800 square foot facility, divided into six units, each with a pool. Approximately 24 adult tortoises will be housed here, moved from the Yadanobon Zoo in Mandalay soon. These were part of a confiscation of 76 tortoises in 2007 that the TSA handled; facilities to house these animals are still under construction.
Elsewhere in Myanmar, new assurance colony facilities were completed for both Arakan Forest Turtles and Burmese Mountain Tortoises. Located at the headquarters of the Yoma Elephant Range Sanctuary at Gwa, the Rakhine Turtle and Tortoise Center(RTTC) more than doubles the space for H. depressa, and includes a new 9000 sqft enclosure for Manouria e. phayrei. Thirteen H. depressa are currently maintained here but that number is expected to grow as confiscations are handled at the TRC. Over thirty M. e. phayrei will call the new facility home after being moved over from Mandalay. Both species are expected to reproduce well here as the location is much closer to their natural range.
The TSA wishes to acknowledge the donors for the TRC, in particular Pat Koval / WWF Canada, Detroit Zoological Institute, Natural Encounters Conservation Fund and the Taipei Forestry Bureau. The RTTC was supported by the British Chelonia Group who, over the past five years, have invested generously in chelonian facilities in Myanmar. We also want to recognize the contractor on the TRC, U The in Htut, whose professionalism and pride in his work is evident in this facility. Finally, we are grateful for the continuing assistance of U Thant Myint and the WCS Myanmar Program staff for their on-going support of these projects.
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3) 2012’s Noteworthy Species-A roundup of species that made their scientific debut in 2012, and a few that said goodbye as well
By Sabrina Richards | December 18, 2012, The Scientist
The world's tiniest chameleon, Brookesia micra.FRANK GLAW and JÖRN KÖHLERResearchers described roughly 15,000 to 18,000 new species in 2012, making choosing the most noteworthy a monstrous task. “[It’s] worse than asking me which of my children is my favorite,” quipped Quentin Wheeler, an entomologist at Arizona State University, in an email to The Scientist. Wheeler and his colleagues at the International Institute for Species Exploration will eventually publish a top ten list of this year’s new species, but the ranking criteria “are as diverse as the species themselves,” he said.
Some of this year’s new species were encountered by researchers deep in the field. Others were recognized from museum specimens—long after the “new” species themselves had gone extinct, noted Benoît Fontaine, a conservation biologist at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris. Even so, cataloging new species is an important task, said Fontaine. “We know only small part of extant biodiversity,” he noted. “It’s the tip of iceberg.”
In celebration of biodiversity, here a few of 2012’s most exciting new species, and a fond farewell to a few more.
Human cousins
One of the newly identified species of slow loris, Nycticebus kayan.CH'IEN C. LEEThe discovery of primate species that are new to science is quite rare, but this year researchers described at least two. Researchers from the United States and United Kingdom stumbled across a previously unrecognized species of slow loris (Nycticebus kayan), small nocturnal primates related to lemurs, while surveying slow lorises in Borneo and the Philippines. Like its relatives, the new species has endearingly wide eyes and small statures—but extremely poisonous bites. Slow lorises lick a toxin-secreting gland on their arm to create venomous saliva, which they use to deter predators. Unfortunately, slow lorises are popular in the pet trade. To keep future owners safe, their captors often remove the loris’s fangs, but this usually ends in the primate’s death, as they can no longer feed properly.
A lesula monkey, Cercopithecus lomamiensis.JOHN HARTThe sleepy-eyed lesula (Cercopithecus lomamiensis) was also officially added to the books in 2012. Well-known to locals near its Congo forest home, the lesula is only the second monkey species in its genus. The animal is light in color, making it easily distinguishable from its closest relations, the dark-furred owl-faced monkeys. John Hart of the Lukuru Wildlife Research Foundation and the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, who described the species in PLOS ONE, said the first lesula example his team studied was being kept as a pet by a schoolteacher’s daughter. When investigating the nearby forest, the group “expected to find something unusual, maybe a range extension [of a known species],” Hart explained. “But we were never prepared to find a new species.”
Though humans don’t farm or mine the forest, lesulas are threatened by the bush meat trade. Having depleted richer sources of bushmeat, hunters will travel “hundreds of kilometers” to hunt monkeys, Hart said. Smoked bushmeat is then sold in urban centers, where many people have no other protein options. But recognition of the lesula as a new species may aid conservation efforts, he added.
Distinctive genitalia
Juvenile Brookesia micra.FRANK GLAW and JÖRN KÖHLERFor some animal species, their genitalia are the best way to identify them. Scientists described a new species (Phallostethus cuulong), belonging to the priapum fish family, whose penises erupt from their chins. This bizarre method of identification is the best for Madagascar’s miniature Malagasy leaf chameleons, which can be distinguished by subtle differences in the shape of their hempenes, the reproductive organs held inside their body until mating. But the newest—and tiniest—member, called Brookesia micra, can be easily identified without getting too intimate. B. micra is about an inch long with “a very, very short tail. The tail has even sometimes a reddish color. It’s totally unique,” said Miguel Vences, a zoologist at the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany, who led the study identifying the miniscule critter.
Teeny tiny fly
World's tiniest fly, Euryplatea nanaknihali.INNA-MARIE STRAZHNIKThis year also saw the discovery of the world’s tiniest fly, identified by entomologist Brian Brown at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Nearly microscopic at less than half a millimeter in length, Euryplatea nanaknihali—named for a young entomology enthusiast who often visits Brown’s museum—belongs to a group of flies that parasitize ants. Brown, who first spotted the fly in an insect trap in Thailand, knew at first sight that E. nanaknihali was unusual. It is a “very odd” looking fly, said Brown, having “a rounded teardrop shape that makes it hard to grab, and short stubby broad wings a smoky grey in color. . . . Most people would probably think it’s a beetle.”
The tiny fly belongs to a group that lays their eggs in an ant’s head. As the fly larvae develop, they feed on the ant’s tissue until “the ant’s head falls off, sometimes as its body is still walking around,” Brown said.
New lion on the block
Addis Ababa lion.JOERG JUNHOLD and KLAUS EULENBERGER, LEIPZIG ZOOIn another boon for biodiversity, researchers confirmed this year that a population of Ethiopian lions with a unique dark mane are indeed genetically distinct from other lions in other areas. Descended from a founder population collected by Emperor Haile Selassie in 1948, the lions are known to scientists from the Addis Ababa Zoo, though reports of dark-maned lions in the wild also exist.
Researchers used the sequence of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and various microsatellites to ascertain that the dark-maned lions are genetically separate from other lions. The news has already given the lions a boost, said Susann Bruche, a biologist at Imperial College London and first author of the paper. Zoo officials have raised money for a better lion enclosure, based on natural habitats, which will give the lions more space to breed and maintain their population.
A few goodbyes
Copper-striped blue-tailed skink.CHRIS BROWN, USGSThe International Union for Conservation of Nature, which puts out the Red List assessing species’ extinction risks, lists 795 species as extinct. But each year, often due to human encroachment, that list grows. Hawaii, the poster child for the havoc wreaked by invasive species—and the heroic efforts to combat them—announced the local extinction of the copper-striped blue-tailed skink this year, possibly due to torment by predatory ants. Luckily, blue-tailed skink populations persist on other Pacific Islands.
Japan announced the extinction of the Japanese river otter, an iconic creature not seen for more than 30 years. Japan’s Ministry of Environment also declared several other species extinct, including the least horseshoe bat.
Lonesome George.WIKIPEDIA, putnymarkAnd finally, the Galápagos’s Lonesome George, the long-lived Pinta Island giant tortoise believed to be the last of his kind, died this summer. More than 100 years old, Lonesome George was introduced to several female tortoises in hopes of producing hybrids, but the eggs laid never hatched. But amidst the sorrow of his passing, some scientists retain hope. New work by evolutionary biologist Adalgisa Caccone at Yale University suggests that a few Pinta Island tortoises may still exist—and be successfully hybridizing with the locals—at Volcano Wolf on nearby Isabela Island. Caccone and her colleagues compared the DNA of more than 1,600 Volcano Wolf tortoises to a DNA database of extinct tortoises collected from museum specimens, and discovered that 17, including some juveniles, had DNA from C. abingdoni ancestors.
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4) Crayfish Harbor Fungus That's Wiping Out Amphibians
Freshwater crustaceans could be the key to understanding how the chytrid fungus persists in the ecosystem long after the last amphibian is gone.

Helen Fields
for National Geographic News
Published December 17, 2012
Scientists have found a new culprit in spreading the disease that's been driving the world's frogs to the brink of extinction: crayfish.
In the last few decades, the disease caused by the chytrid fungus has been a disaster for frogs and other amphibians. More than 300 species are nearly extinct because of it. Many probably have gone extinct, but it can be difficult to know for sure when a tiny, rare species disappears from the face of the Earth. (Related photos: "Ten Most Wanted 'Extinct' Amphibians.")
"This pathogen is bad news. It's worse news than any other pathogen in the history of life on Earth as far as we know it," says Vance Vredenburg, a conservation biologist at San Francisco State University who studies frogs but did not work on the new study.
The chytrid fungus was only discovered in the late 1990s. Since then, scientists have been scrambling to figure out how it spreads and how it works.
One of the biggest mysteries is how chytrid can persist in a frogless pond. Researchers saw it happen many times and were perplexed: If all of a pond's amphibians were wiped out, and a few frogs or salamanders came back and recolonized the pond, they would also die—even though there were no amphibians in the pond to harbor the disease. (Learn about vanishing amphibians.)
One possible reason is that chytrid infects other animals. For a study published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Taegan McMahon, a graduate student in ecology at the University of South Florida in Tampa, looked at some possible suspects and focused on crayfish, those lobsterlike crustaceans living in freshwater. They seemed like a good possibility because they're widespread and because their bodies have a lot of keratin, a protein the fungus attacks.
In the lab, McMahon exposed crayfish to the disease and they got sick. More than a third died within seven weeks, and most of the survivors were carrying the fungus. She also put infected crayfish in the water with tadpoles—separated by mesh, so the crustaceans wouldn't eat the baby frogs—and the tadpoles got infected. When McMahon and her colleagues checked out wetlands in Louisiana and Colorado, they also found infected crayfish.
That means crayfish can probably act as a reservoir for the disease. The fungus seems to be able to dine on crayfish then leap back to amphibians when it gets a chance. No one knows for sure where the fungus originally came from or why it's been such a problem in recent decades, but this research suggests one way that it could have been spread. Crayfish are sometimes moved from pond to pond as fish bait and are sold around the world as food and aquarium pets. (Related photos: "New Giant 'Bearded' Crayfish Species.")
The study doesn't answer every last question about the disease. For one thing, crayfish are common, but they aren't everywhere; there are no crayfish in some of the places where frogs have been hardest hit, Vredenburg says. But, he says, the new research shows that "we need to start looking a little more broadly at other potential hosts."
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5) University of Idaho researchers monitor amphibians with eDNA
By Austen Verrilli • December 11, 2012, Environmental Monitors (Application and technology News for Environmental Professionals

When researchers from the University of Idaho set out to track amphibians, they ran into a problem.
“One of the big issues with trying to monitor amphibians is that they can be difficult to find,” said Katherine Strickler, a post-doctoral researcher of fish and wildlife resources at UI. “If you are not there at the exact time, you can miss them.”
So, Idaho researchers turned to a new method for biologically detecting which species call a habitat home. They sample bodies of water and test them for environmental DNA unique to each species of fauna.
Environmental DNA results from any bit of matter an animal leaves in an ecosystem, from eggs, to molted skin, to feces or any other cell. Strickler said eDNA persists longer than regular cell material, giving scientists a greater window for biological detection.
Collecting eDNA is less stressful for amphibians, which can hide while scientists peruse their ecosystem.
The method is incredibly precise and eliminates false positive altogether, as long as samples remain uncontaminated. UI researchers sequence DNA specific to one amphibian and others that are very similar. Then they collect a water sample from an area where they suspect a particular amphibian would live. Samples are sterilized so that bacteria don’t break down the DNA.
Researchers separate and replicate a specific eDNA sequence from the samples and run it through a sequencing machine to verify a species match.
Researchers collect their water samples with a simple rig consisting of a vacuum flask, filter funnel and a Pegasus Athena peristaltic pump.
They pump four 250 milliliter samples from each body of water. A special filter binds to any DNA in the sample.
Strickler said they tested several peristaltic pumps before purchasing the Pegasus model. “The Pegasus is great because it allows us to filter water a lot more quickly, a lot more efficiently and it gives us less wear and tear on our bodies,” Strickler said.
The pump’s compact design also makes it ideal for sampling in remote locations where the scientists have to hike-in equipment.
Strickler and Karen Goldberg, a UI biological research scientist, monitor ecological areas in military bases under a U.S. Department of Defense grant. They’re working in southeast Arizona, Washington state and Florida’s panhandle.
So far they have had success sampling in smaller scale ponds, but they have not verified if their sampling method will work in large bodies of water.
Eventually they hope to establish a protocol for eDNA sampling that can be used by other scientists.
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6) Partnership to help protect Madagascar’s amphibians
30th November 2012, Durrell Wildlife Trust
A killer fungus that has wiped out populations of amphibians in many parts of the world has not been detected in Madagascar yet. However, experts fear that if the deadly chytrid fungus ever did strike, then many of the more than 290 described species endemic only to those shores could be gone for good. That’s why a team from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Chester Zoo are working with local conservation organisations to build the skills needed to respond to the threat of a disease outbreak, should it arrive.
Senior staff from Chester Zoo and Durrell and are currently in Madagascar to deliver a training programme which will equip local conservationists with the skills to establish safety-net populations of threatened amphibians in captivity.
Amphibians all over the world are being affected by the fungal disease, chytridiomycosis. The disease thickens amphibian skin preventing the movement of fluids in and out of their skin, which can lead to deadly heart failure.
Chester Zoo’s Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates Dr Garcia said:
“Amphibians already face lots of threats, most notably from habitat destruction and alteration, however the chytrid fungus could be the last nail in the coffin. It threatens many of the wild amphibian species around the globe with extinction and it’s probably the first time ever that a disease has threatened to wipe out an entire class of animals.
“There’s a very real chance of a new epidemic in Madagascar and that’s why it’s vitally important that careful, professional ex situ (captive) programmes are in place to protect against chytrid - it’s that big of a threat.
“On top of that, there are lots of unanswered questions about frogs in Madagascar full stop. Working with them in an ex-situ setting could reveal some vital information and help us understand how we can protect them in their own environment and how to restore wild populations, should it ever become necessary.”
Although 290 species of amphibian have been described in Madagascar, many more have been discovered and are yet to be named. To date more than 90% are endemic to Madagascar.
Head of Durrell Conservation Academy Jamie Copsey added: “We already know that a number of the amphibians unique to Madagascar are sensitive to the fungal disease. An introduction of chytrid fungus could therefore have a devastating effect. By working with local conservation organisations Durrell and Chester Zoo hope to exchange skills and increase the number of institutions within Madagascar with the capacity to establish captive populations that are most at risk from the disease.”
After seeing facilities already developed at the local community-based conservation organisation, Mitsinjo, Amphibian Specialist Group Co-chair for Madagascar Dr. Franco Andreone commented:
“A great deal of ingenuity and imagination has already been injected into conservation efforts in Madagascar by local organisations, in particular Mitsinjo. We are working with them to determine how we can use locally-available materials, such as plastic bottles and sponges, to make cheap but effective alternatives to equipment we can find abroad. The aim is to establish locally-run and effective captive breeding programmes that will make a significant contribution to the conservation of Madagascars unique and diverse amphibian fauna.”
The Chester and Durrell team will be joined by amphibian experts from the IUCN Amphibian Specialist Group and Turin Museum, Italy to deliver the training. The project is being funded largely by EAZA (European Association of Zoo’s and Aquaria).
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7) Amphibians yield new parasite species
MEDIA CLUB SOUTH AFRICA. COM 11/5/12 BY Wilma den Hatigh.
Professor Louis du Preez from North-West University has discovered five new parasite species in the rain forests of French Guiana in South America.

A renowned South African researcher has discovered five new parasite species – considered by many scientists to be nigh impossible to find – in the rain forests of French Guiana in South America.
Professor Louis du Preez from North-West University (NWU), who is an expert on flatworm parasites that live in amphibians and fresh water turtles, didn’t know that his research mission to the remote South American forests would yield such a remarkable find.
Du Preez says the parasite species were found in a caecilian, a legless earthworm-like amphibian, in turtles and in a frog.
"We knew beforehand that chances of finding this caecilian were slim, and those of finding the parasite in one even slimmer,” he says.
“Our best scenario was to get one, and we got five.”
Answering questions about amphibians
He says although the discovery is not of veterinary or economic importance, it will help researchers to answer important evolutionary questions about amphibians and their geographical location.
“Now that we have the DNA of the parasite we can find out how its hosts evolved,” he says. “Amphibians were around long before dinosaurs, yet they survived when dinosaurs became extinct.”
Du Preez, who is also an authority on frogs, says it is important to research these amphibians as their survival is critical for a healthy ecosystem.
Frogs are the most threatened vertebrate group in the world because of habitat destruction and the threat of disease and fungi.
“Frogs are important because they eat vast quantities of potentially harmful insects and serve as staple food for some birds and reptiles. Wherever frog numbers are in decline, there is a disruption in the ecosystem.”
An unusual research trip
Du Preez’s search for the parasites started when the National Museum of Scotland contacted him about a parasite they discovered in a caecilian which had been preserved in a bottle of formalin for 120 years.
Scientists were examining the specimen as part of a study on the reproductive organs of caecilians.
But the scientists couldn’t study the DNA as it had been destroyed by the formalin.
The only solution was to find a living sample – and the aim of the research mission was to find the parasites in a caecilian so that the DNA could be extracted.
“We needed to search for a live parasite,” Du Preez says. “It was a huge gamble because we were told that we didn’t stand a chance, but we decided to go and look anyway, and on day two we found it.”
Into the jungle in a banana boat
A team consisting of Du Preez, Oliver Verneau from the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and an NWU postdoctoral student, Mathieu Badets, travelled to the virtually inaccessible area of the French Guiana forests in search of the elusive parasite.
Du Preez describes the research mission and discovery as one of his career highlights.
They first stayed at the CNRS base in Cayenne before embarking on a gruelling 120-kilometre trip upstream on the Approuague River in a dugout canoe, also known as a banana boat.
“It took seven hours to travel up the river to reach our destination,” he tells.
The team was based at a remote French scientific research base in the Nouraques Reserve next to the river.
“There are no roads to access it, and the only way is by helicopter, which is very costly, or a banana boat, which is much more cost effective,” Du Preez explains.
They had to take all their equipment and microscopes with them, but the base is well equipped with basic infrastructure and food kept in freezers.
The base lies only four degrees north of the equator and du Preez says the team had to work in hot and rainy tropical conditions, with a constant threat of venomous snakes and jaguars.
“We never slept on the floor. I spent two weeks sleeping in a hammock while at the research base,” he says.
Finding the parasites
Du Preez explains that they were only allowed to catch two kinds of aquatic turtles as part of their research.
The turtles were kept in containers filled with water, after which the water was examined for the parasites. Three aquatic caecilians were also caught in the reserve and in one of the caecilians they found the rare polystome, or flatworm.
"Now, at last, we could extract the DNA from the parasites to see where they fit into the evolutionary development process,” Du Preez says.
He says these discoveries can help to establish how the parasites developed and how they spread across the earth over geological time, as this group of parasites is species-specific.
He adds that amphibians are the first group of vertebrates that moved onto dry land, even before dinosaurs.
“The parasites found in the group of aquatic animals consequently give us a good indication of when this movement occurred in geological time.”
Answering more questions
Du Preez says the discovery of the unique parasites will be keeping scientists very busy in months to come. He is in the process of analysing the new species and describing them, but their research has created even more questions.
He expects to return to the rain forests to do more research next year.
“It was an incredible place to do research and we have been invited by the CNRS to visit the base again.”
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8) Environmental Almanac: Patient photographer catches unusual find
Tue, 11/06/2012 - 8:00am | Rob Kanter, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Have you ever seen a siren? I don't mean one of the temptresses of Greek myth or the thing that makes noise atop an emergency vehicle. I mean the amphibian called a siren.
It's an eel-like creature that's actually a salamander. As adults, sirens get more than 2 feet long. They're somewhat variable in color but mostly dark, and they have two undersized front legs (but no rear legs) and external gills.
Like most residents of East Central Illinois, I've never seen a siren. But Jessica Runner of Danville has, and not a mile from her home. Here's how.
Runner is a busy mother of two young boys who manages the shoe department at Carson's and owns a landscaping business with her husband. But she also is a dedicated birder who has cultivated a growing passion for nature photography in recent years.
Often, when Runner has time off work, she drops by Heron Park, which is at the north end of Lake Vermilion and just minutes from her home by car. Its wetland complex makes an excellent spot for birding, and it hosts a rookery, where great blue herons nest.
One morning at the end of May this year as Runner approached the park in her car, she spotted a great blue heron stalking a meal in a shallow pond that borders the road. She quickly pulled over, and, using the car for a blind, photographed the bird over a period of 40 minutes as it worked to procure breakfast.
Great blue herons are patient hunters. They avoid spooking prey by moving extremely slowly until they're close enough to stab it with a quick extension of the neck.
Unfortunately for Runner, her own patience did not quite match the heron's, and her attention was focused on a family of wood ducks at the moment it struck. To her delight, however, the heron ran back toward her with its still-wriggling prize, and she was able to photograph the bird's battle to subdue it.
As she took pictures, Runner thought she was seeing her bird kill and then eat a snake. But when she later saw the images on a computer screen, she realized the snake-like creature had legs, so she forwarded them to a friend in Urbana. He identified it as a siren.
Runner wasn't the only person excited about her discovery. She contacted Chris Phillips at the Illinois Natural History Survey to tell him about her pictures, since the Survey's "Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of Illinois" shows no records for sirens in Vermilion County.
"It goes to show you," Phillips said, "there are still some surprises out there for a herpetologist in the Midwest."
On one hand, he continued, it seems odd that sirens would turn up in Vermilion County because they are more common in the southern part of the state and along major rivers. Besides, he and other field scientists have studied the reptiles and amphibians of Vermilion County for decades and never been able to find sirens there before.
On the other hand, it's also a potential boon to have them located where they're so accessible for study by University of Illinois faculty and students. "It's only a 40-minute drive from campus," he pointed out, "and during high water, we could throw a trap into that pond right from the truck."
Sirens are weird creatures, and there is much to be learned about them. They maintain throughout life characteristics that most amphibians lose as adults: They continue to live in water, they keep their external gills and they develop only tiny front legs.
They can survive prolonged dry periods by encasing themselves in slime that forms an airtight sac and going dormant, but for how long, nobody knows. Nor have scientists ever witnessed their courtship and mating, so they can only speculate about that based on the siren's physical characteristics.
I suppose there are people for whom the discovery of an unexpected amphibian nearby causes no excitement, but I'm not among them. As the temperatures warm next summer, I look forward to helping catch sirens at Heron Park. Don't worry, if you're not there, I'll take pictures.
Environmental Almanac is a service of the University of Illinois School of Earth, Society and Environment, where Rob Kanter is communications coordinator. Environmental Almanac can be heard on WILL-AM 580 at 4:45 and 6:45 p.m. on Thursdays.
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9) Biologist makes leap with three-fingered frog discovery
11/3/12 by Gerard Aziakou, GUARAQUECABA, Brazil, (AFP) -- On a trek across an Atlantic rainforest reserve in south Brazil, biologist Michel Garey recalled how on his birthday in 2007 he chanced upon a new species of tiny, three-fingered frogs.
"I was doing research with two friends on a hilltop in the reserve and I stumbled into this unusual frog with only three fingers," he told a small group of reporters this week on a tour of Salto Morato, a nature preserve owned by Brazil's leading cosmetic firm Boticario.
"It happened on February 14, 2007: My birthday. What a treat!" he said.
But it was not until June this year that the discovery of this new species -- Brachycephalus tridactylus -- was officially established. A report on his finding was published in Herpetologica, a quarterly international journal focusing on study and conservation of amphibians and reptiles.
"At the time I was doing some other work related to ecology and I figured I could wait as no one else doing frog research would have access to the area," Garey said.
"It took me 18 months from early 2011 to collect seven of the new frogs, go to museums to compare them with other species, realize that they were new, write my paper and have it published in the journal."
The tiny brachycephalus tridactylus was found at an altitude of around 900 meters (3,000 feet). Its most striking feature is the absence of a fourth finger, which Garey attributes to an evolutionary process rather than to environmental effects.
The frog, which measures less than 1.5-cm in length, is mostly orange with olive-gray spots and dots on its body.
Garey said the male frog makes around 30 mating calls a day, sounds he described as "a single short note that decreases in dominant frequency from beginning to end."
Garey said he could not estimate the frog population, but plans to do so in a future research project.
The frog is part of 43 amphibian species found in this 2,253-hectare (5,567-acre) reserve, located in Guaraquecaba, the easternmost city in the southern state of Parana.
Experts estimate around 950 amphibian species live across Brazil and more than 6,700 around the world.
Amphibians -- cold-blooded animals such as frogs, toads, salamanders and newts -- are increasingly threatened by climate change, pollution, and the emergence of a deadly and infectious fungal disease, which has been linked to global warming.
One-third of the known species are threatened with extinction, according to the Global Amphibian Assessment, an extensive survey of the world's amphibian species. More than 120 species are believed to have gone extinct since 1980.
Frogs spend part of their life in water and on land, so understanding their complex life cycle is crucial because they can serve as "bioindicators of environmental quality", said Garey.
Frogs "have permeable skin which make them more susceptible to ultra-violet radiation and their body temperatures change with the environment," Garey said.
"As larvae in the water, they eat various organisms such as algae and as adults they eat insects. The larvae are also eaten by fish while the adults are eaten by cobras and mammals," he added. "So they are having a cascade effect in the food chain."
Garey is able to recognize different species by the male's distinctive mating calls.
During a night foray into the soggy forest, Garey suddenly bolted into a nearby pond and snatched an unsuspecting bright green frog known as phyllomedusa distincta after hearing its tell-tale call.
Garey's interest in frogs began 10 years ago, when he was 19 and studying biology.
Today he is a post-doctorate fellow at Paulista State University in Sao Paulo state. His research is funded by the Boticario foundation, a non-profit body which has already sponsored 800 conservation projects, including research and environmental education programs all over Brazil.
Salto Morato, created in 1994, protects a significant area of Brazil's dwindling Atlantic rainforest. In November 1999, the reserve was declared a natural heritage site by UNESCO.
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10) Climate Change and this Year’s El Niño Effecting Costa Rica Amphibians
Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 | The Costa Rica News (TCRN)
San Jose Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s biodiversity is world renounced having approximately 5% of the worlds biodiversity, but climate change and in particular this years El Niño is effecting Costa Rica Amphibians

Global Amphibian Decline
The past two decades, amphibians have had significant declines in their population worldwide. There is a great deal of evidence for such declines from North, Central and South America, Europe, Africa and Australia.
Global amphibian decline is attributed to the effects of habitat destruction; alteration, isolation pockets, climate change, chemical and other pollution, fungal, bacterial have contributed to declines that often have no obvious cause.
The vast majority of the more than 6,000 species of frogs in the world lay eggs in water, but many tropical frogs make it out of the water environment to lay eggs. This strategy protects amphibian eggs from predators, but in times of insufficient rain fall and drought this strategy can destroy whole reproduction cycles because of dehydration, in some cases of endangered species it can wipe them out entirely.
Researchers report that climate change may be altering the evolution of some amphibians, causing these animals to alter behaviors to adapt to low rainfall.
Research in biological hotspots such as Panama and Costa Rica show that over the past 4 decade rain fall has declined but maybe more importantly it is frequency and consistence of rain periods that have changed. In Costa Rica there are approximately 175 amphibious species
The embryos of some amphibian are extremely susceptible to rain frequency in some cases they die in just a few days if there is no rain. Rainfall also triggers reproduction cycles, so the lack of rain in the period immediately after the egg laying phase has dramatic effects on population.
With climate change, amphibians are considered one of the most threatened species with approximately half of the more than 6,000 known species in decline and one in three in danger of extinction.
Amphibians are very susceptible to environmental conditions and pollutants because of their sensitive skin requiring certain levels of moisture to survive and reproduce.
Fungal diseases such as Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, sometimes called simply Bd, kills amphibians affecting their permeable skin, ultimately causing heart failure.
In Costa Rica and Panama the disease continues to advance, according to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (http://www.stri.si.edu/espanol/index.php) that has the Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project.
In Costa Rica this year there cause for alarm this year as El Niño has resulted in approximately 18% less rainfall nationally and as much 80% in some northern regions, some experts have stated the possibility of a “tropical drought” this coming summer season, which could have devastation effects of amphibious population and other species as well.
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11) Rocky Mountain College student studies relationship between trout presence and frogs in Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness
October 29, 2012 12:01 pm • By Brett French BILLINGS GAZETTE


For two months this summer, Bo Walker had something of a Huck Finn existence.
The 22-year-old Rocky Mountain College environmental science student spent five or six days a week hiking in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, looking for frogs and fishing.
“This is why a bunch of my friends called me a lazy bum,” he told a small gathering at the Audubon Conservation Education Center on Tuesday.
Walker’s hiking and fishing was actually in pursuit of scientific knowledge. He was gathering information for his independent research project, an undergraduate thesis examining what effect the introduction of trout to lakes in the Beartooth and Absaroka mountains may have had on amphibian populations.
Wet mountains
It would seem that the A-B Wilderness is the perfect place to search for frogs. Hundreds of lakes dot the landscape at elevations ranging from 5,000 to 11,000 feet. Fish were planted in the lakes in the early 1900s – everything from rainbow to brook and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. The idea at the time was to provide fisheries for horsepackers and hunters who ventured into the rugged region. There were few backpackers back then.
Of 1,000-some lakes in the wilderness, more than 340 have been stocked with fish. Out of all those lakes, only two held native fish, Walker said.
He came up with the idea for his study while working for Fish, Wildlife and Parks on its mountain lakes crew in the A-B Wilderness two years ago. The crew annually assesses a portion of the lakes that have been stocked with fish and plants fish in some of the waters.
As Walker worked with FWP he began to wonder: “What are we doing to the landscape if we’re stocking nonnatives?”
“That’s one of the questions that fueled me in this study,” he said.
Frog land
The Absaroka and Beartooth mountains are home to two main species of frogs: the Columbia spotted frog, which tends to live at 3,500 feet elevation and higher, and the boreal forest frog. Both species can be found in waters as high as 9,500 feet in the A-B.
The frogs provide food for a variety of species. Besides fish, they are also on the menu for ducks, herons, otters, snakes and even other frogs. The frogs tend to also eat what fish do – mainly aquatic insects. So fish and frogs compete for the same foods where they are found together.
So what makes a place frog-friendly? Water is a must, but frogs also generally like to breed in shallow, warm waters where there is emergent vegetation. Sometimes, to find just the right place to live or breed, the frogs will migrate. They can travel up to 2 kilometers, or about a mile-and-a-quarter, sometimes covering up to 500 meters in a day.
“Which, when you consider they’re about the size of your fist or smaller, that’s pretty impressive,” Walker said.
The findings
Without researching the subject, it would seem logical that since frogs are fish food, amphibian numbers would be much lower in lakes where trout have been stocked. But that’s not what Walker found in the 50 lakes he examined — 22 of which had fish and 28 didn't.
Thirty-two percent of the lakes that did not have fish had amphibians. Yet 72 percent of the lakes with fish also had amphibians. If the lake had no fish, he had a 67 percent chance of finding amphibians and an 88 percent chance of finding evidence of amphibian breeding.
The problem, Walker said, is that to make the data statistically valid he needed to investigate 50 lakes with fish and 50 without, instead of 50 lakes total. To do that, he would have needed another him and more funding.
Despite his research, Walker said, scientific literature is full of studies that say “Fish do affect amphibians.”
But his study can’t say that fish are affecting frogs significantly. And there are a lot of other factors that could have skewed his one-time sample, everything from the dry, warm summer, to a milder winter that may have increased frogs’ overwinter survival. Ideally, Walker would like to persuade FWP to remove fish from a series of lakes to see if frog numbers rise in those waters.
Taking fish from waters would likely anger anglers, but Walker sees the issue more holistically.
“It’s important to keep frogs because they are part of the natural community,” Walker said. “What the ripple effects are of a species’ disappearance is not known.
“We should be good ecological stewards.”
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12) What Does It Take to Fool a Snake? Send in the Robot Biologists Use Mechanical Squirrels, Frogs to Study Wildlife; 'Snooki' the Bird

By JOHN LETZING, Wall Street Journal, 12/19/12

Scientists are building fake animals to help them study real ones. But can a robotic squirrel fool a real snake? WSJ's John Letzing reports.
The snake in the grass didn't seem to believe in Rulon Clark's squirrel, which could complicate matters for the professor.
Dr. Clark had carried his prized ground squirrel into the hills near San Jose, Calif., last year to study the way squirrels' behavior affects predators. He placed it by a grass patch he knew concealed a rattlesnake.
The snake, perhaps not surprisingly, sprang and sank its fangs into the rodent. Less predictable, for the rattler, was what happened next: The squirrel glided backward, its face frozen in a placid expression.
The snake flicked its tongue—a defensive signal—as if there were something odd about this squirrel.
There was: It was a robot.
"It's likely that the snake realized as soon as it bit the fake squirrel that it bit something that wasn't a live animal," says Dr. Clark, an assistant biology professor at San Diego State University.
Trying to dupe real animals with fake ones is an increasingly popular methodology among biologists. The aim, they say, is to conduct focused, repeatable studies on how animals respond to other creatures. Spurring the trend are ever-cheaper motors, sensors and computer chips.
In recent experiments, scientists have tried to infiltrate the animal kingdom with robotic rodents, birds, frogs and fish, among other creatures. "It's producing breakthroughs in animal behavior that would not probably have been possible without these robotic models," says Sanjay Joshi, a mechanical engineering researcher at the University of California, Davis, who has designed versions of the squirrel over several years with his students.
Today's robot animals build on earlier studies, such as the one that persuaded cockroaches to come out of the dark. In an experiment that began in 2002, scientists in Belgium, France and Switzerland deployed cockroach robots to mingle with real roaches.
Aiming to influence roach behavior, they found that robot roaches coated with pheromones could lead living bugs to hang out under brighter light if the fakes ventured out first. The real roach's sentiment was probably something like "Oh yeah, it's a friend of mine," says Simon Garnier, an assistant professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology who participated in the study.
Some animals prove too eager to believe. UC Davis biologist Gail Patricelli this year hid in a rural Wyoming hunting blind to study the mating habits of the sage grouse using a robotic bird named Snooki, which she had built to make natural-looking neck movements by using material from Spanx undergarments.
Robotic Snooki was so persuasive that "a male jumped on her a few times this season before she could escape," Dr. Patricelli says. Male suitors were "not particularly choosy," she says, forcing her to jump out and shoo them away, generally ruining the day's work.
Some robots must merely blend in. Carrie Wall, while a University of South Florida doctoral candidate, joined a study in the Gulf of Mexico using a torpedo-shaped machine that mimicked a fish's buoyancy technique so it could stealthily eavesdrop on real fish.
It picked up an unexpected sound at night, which she says the researchers hypothesized was herring passing gas to alter buoyancy. They published the flatulence findings from the faux fish this year.
But animal robots can have trouble staying in character. Barrett Klein, an assistant professor of animal behavior at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, joined a team seven years ago that is now studying the mating habits of the túngara frog in Panamanian rain forests. His colleagues had a crude fake frog with a manually-inflated condom to replicate the male's expanding vocal sac—a mating signal.
Dr. Klein and his team have since crafted increasingly realistic frogs made of urethane with catheter-balloon sacs that inflate automatically. They find female frogs near the Panama Canal and later, in a lab, present them with two mechanical males that inflate their vocal sacs while mating calls play on speakers.
The female will usually choose a mechanical mate—if he stays in character. Several times, a robot frog's vocal sac burst as he wooed. In one instance the live female "just kind of stopped, turned and wandered away," Dr. Klein says. "I can only imagine what she was thinking."
Even harder to woo have been some politicians. Dr. Clark says his squirrel studies are important for understanding animal behavior and thus worthy of the National Science Foundation grant he received. "Our research is an important contribution to our understanding of antagonistic co-evolution in general, and the evolution of predator-prey communication in particular," he says.
Not persuaded is Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who in October put Dr. Clark's work in his annual "Wastebook" of profligate federal spending alongside an Iowa agricultural and motor sports museum and the overprinting of "Simpsons" postage stamps, among other things.
"These projects truly are representative of a broader problem, which is Washington's inability to set priorities," says John Hart, a spokesman for Sen. Coburn. "It's clearly unusual to spend taxpayer dollars on a robot squirrel."
Dr. Clark says politicians shouldn't target funding like his while the U.S. struggles to remain competitive in training scientists and engineers. Less than 5% of his $390,000 in grant funding went to robots, he says.
The occasional serpent skeptic aside, Dr. Clark's pseudo-squirrels have been successful enough that he plans to use a kangaroo-rat robot next year to study how the critter's thumping foot affects predators.
The robosquirrel evolved from less-polished strains. Aaron Rundus, as a UC Davis graduate student, watched a primitive version face a snake several years back. Everything went well until the squirrel's tail flew off. As the snake had now seen the robot unmasked, the experiment halted, he says, because "you can't erase that memory."
The current model is made of hard foam and a pelt, and stored in a live rodent's bedding for authentic odor. Dr. Clark seeks snakes in the brush and slides the motorized squirrel toward them on a track. The squirrel waves an automated tail heated by coils—to test the theory that real-life versions repel snake strikes by heating up their tails and waving them.
He says he hasn't completed his field experiments yet. It may become clear that the snakes haven't sufficiently bought his impostor squirrel all along, he says. "If that happens, we're back to square one."
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Books Just In-All Discounted-Only 3 of each-No re-ordering allowed by Publishers.
Malformed Frogs: The Collapse of Aquatic Ecosystems, by Michael Lannoo, 270 pages, Original Price $65.00 Now $30.00 plus $6.00 S&H
Frogs & Toads Of North America-Photos of 100 frogs and toads and all their calls on a CD by Lang Elliott, Carl Gerhardt and Carlos Davidson, 350 pages, glossy, full color. List price $30.00 Now $19.95) Plus $6.00 S&H
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Albino pythons, endangered lizards and other reptiles are the currency of an underworld as dangerous and lucrative as the drug trade. Freelance writer Christy's debut is an enthusiastic chronicle of the rise and fall of a lizard kingpin and the federal agent who pursued him. Mike Van Nostrand inherited Strictly Reptiles, an import-export business in Florida, from his father, Ray, turning it into a multimillion-dollar smuggling operation. Van Nostrand imported reptiles of all shapes and sizes, usually concealed in the suitcases or clothing of his mules, and sold them to collectors and pet stores. He exploited loopholes in the international treaty on endangered-species trade and paid off corrupt officials._____________
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Invasive Pythons in the United States- Ecology of an Introduced
Predator
Michael E. Dorcas and John D. Willson, Foreword by Whit Gibbons
The first detailed, comprehensive study of this invasive predator
Page count: 176, 188 color photos, 8 maps, 1 table, 7 figures
Paperback, c2011, (Only 5 copies left)
Was $25.00 Now Just $15.00 plus add $6.00 for shipping and handling.
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Turtles of the United States and Canada by Carl H. Ernst and Jeffrey E. Lovich
List Price: $98.00, (Hardcover) 840 pages
The Johns Hopkins University Press; Second edition

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In 1972, C. H. Ernst completed the daunting task of compiling a sequel to A. F. Carr's (1952) landmark Handbook of Turtles. Two decades later, Ernst, this time with assistance from former student and fellow cheloniophile J. E. Lovich, has done it again. (Copeia )
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Carl and Evelyn Ernst have completely revised their landmark reference Venomous Reptiles of North America to present the most comprehensive review of these animals in years. A review that now needs two volumes to complete. ;Volume One of this definitive work presented dramatically improved species accounts of the venomous lizards and elapid and viperid snakes found north of Mexico's twenty-fifth parallel.

In Volume Two they cover the twenty-one rattlesnakes found in the United States, Canada, and, for the first time, species found only in northern Mexico.

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These volumes contain a wealth of information for anyone with an interest in venom, snakes, or herpetology in general.

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico Volume I & II, provides facts on each animal's diet, reproductive behavior, physiology, ecology, and conservation status. The book also covers details on snakebite, how venom is delivered, venom composition, antivenom production, and medical treatments of envenomation. Each species account includes vivid photographs that aid with identification and detailed maps that show the species range.

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Re: Herp- Digest Newsletter

Postby Philsuma » Sun Dec 30, 2012 2:50 pm

Volume # 12 Issue # 60 12/30/12
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE
FROM HERPDIGEST/ALLEN SALZBERG Starting my 13th year, without which, I could not do with your continued support. Thanks
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“The Most Comprehensive Turtle Book.”
TURTLES, TORTOISES AND TERRAPINS- A Natural History -Revised, Expanded and Updated by Ronald Orenstein, 448 pages, that’s 150 more than the first edition, 9" X 11",more than 300 full color photographs, range maps, bibliography, index
AND YES EVEN IF YOU HAVE COPIES OF THE FIRST EDITION YOU SHOULD GET THE 2ND EDITION, IT’S A WHOLE NEW BOOK.
$59.95 USD plus $12.00 for S&H in US, overseas please contact us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org
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HEALTH CARE AND REHABILITATION OF TURTLES AND TORTOISES
An excellent, must have for every turtle owner and every turtle & wildlife rehabilitator
Covers everything from general information such as: turtle anatomy, diet, stress, hibernation, brumation, outdoor and indoor enclosures and more --- to over 250 pages on shell fractures, tube feeding, bacterial and viral diseases, parasites, diagnostics, antibiotics in chelonians, and with supporting photographs. The author took great time and care to translate her and others experiences in turtle rehabilitation without the jargon, so all turtle owners enthusiasts can understand.
Full-color photographs. (2012) 393 pp. Softcover, by Amanda Ebenhack $39.85 plus $6.00 S&H see below on how to order (Overseas email us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org or S&H price)

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Table of Contents
1) Video of Comeback of Japanese Giant Salamander
2) TRAFFIC Analyzes of Proposals & Recommedations for the forthcoming CITES meeting, CoP16, Bangkok, Thailand, March 2013
3) Lens regeneration in axolotl: new evidence of developmental plasticity
4) LAKE ELSINORE: Thousands of Animals Euthanized in Breeder Case
5) Lethal Effects of Water Quality on Threatened California Salamanders but Not on Co-Occurring Hybrid Salamanders
6)Mass extinction of lizards and snakes at the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary
7) Reconciling biodiversity and carbon conservation
8) Q&A: Extinctions and the impact of Homo sapiens
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“THE TORTOISE” The Turtle Conservancy’s -For Members Only-New Periodical Publication (But it’s not just about Tortoises).
HerpDigest has Gained Access to a Limited Number of the Very First issue of the Turtle Conservancy’s New Periodical Publication “The Tortoise.” Recently available only to members. And they are going fast.
According to the Turtle Conservancy, by publishing “The Tortoise” on a yearly basis, it will keep it relevant by containing more in-depth information on the latest work being done to save turtles and tortoises all over the world than any other publication.
Issue # 1, is an excellent example of this, with it’s 160 pages, 100 color photos and 14 reports and stories on the work done and that needs to be done, on a number of threatened and critically endangered species from around the globe:
Ranging from the highlands of Southeast Asia, home to two primitive tortoises of the genus Manouria, to the restricted range of the Geometric Tortoise (Psammobates geometricus) in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, to the West Coast of the US home of the Pacific Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata), to the cryptic wood turtles (Rhinoclemmys sp.) of Mexico, and almost everywhere in between.
The first issue is only $20.00 plus $6.00 for S&H. As all always contact us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org for overseas shipping costs.
Check out the magnets and diplomas while you are there.
AS ALWAYS INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO ORDER BOTTOM OF HERPDIGEST ISSUE.
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1) Video of Comeback of Japanese Giant Salamander
http://video.nationalgeographic.com/vid ... der-wcvin/
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2) TRAFFIC's page with background information for the forthcoming CITES meeting, CoP16
http://www.traffic.org/cop16-table/
This page provides links to the individual IUCN/TRAFFIC Analyses of and TRAFFIC Recommendations for Proposals to Amend the CITES Appendices at CoP16.
• The Proposals put forward by Parties for this meeting - this link is to the CITES website where Proposals for CoP16 are available.
• Analyses of each proposal by IUCN and TRAFFIC were posted here on 24th December 2012. They can be downloaded individually below. In January, single PDFs of all the Analyses together will be made available in English, and Summary and Analysis sections will be published in English, French and Spanish.
• TRAFFIC's Recommendations, stating TRAFFIC's position on each of the Proposals will be published as one document and linked individually from the table below in mid-January.

These are very through anylysises of the prposals and species, Each anlysises is seperate pdf file, reviewed by experts of the proposed species and issues.
The 3 U.S. Turtles proposed by USF&WS for CITES II listing, Spotted Turtles, Diamondaback Terrapins, and Blanding’s turtles have been recommendated for CITES II listing by Traffic. Now the proposed listing has to be apporved at the forthcoming: Sixteenth Meeting of the Confernece of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in Bangkok (Thailand), March 3-14 2013
Read the list carefully, it does not include jusst requests to list or delist species.
The list includes very specific requests such as to move populations of such species of the American Crocodile (Crocodytus actus) from one area to another in Columbia, transfers of population of a single country, like Thailand of the Siamese crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis) from Appendix I to Appendix II with a zero quote for wild specimens, including new species to Appenx II like New Zealand Green geckos (nomenclatural reference adopted by the Confernce of the Parties - Naurltinus spp.- not in accordance with the genus the proponents placed it in-Diplodactylidae.
Total - 3 Crocodylidae are included,, the mentioned species of the Gekkonidae, one Viperidae, 3 frogs and almost 50 turtles are listed.
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3) Lens regeneration in axolotl: new evidence of developmental plasticity
Rinako Suetsugu-Maki, Nobuyasu Maki, Kenta Nakamura, Saulius Sumanas, Jie Zhu, Katia Del Rio-Tsonis and Panagiotis A Tsonis
For all author emails, please log on.
BMC Biology 2012, 10:103 doi:10.1186/1741-7007-10-103
Published: 17 December 2012
Abstract (provisional)
Background
Among vertebrates lens regeneration is most pronounced in newts, which have the ability to regenerate the entire lens throughout their lives. Regeneration occurs from the dorsal iris by transdifferentiation of the pigment epithelial cells. Interestingly, the ventral iris never contributes to regeneration. Frogs have limited lens regeneration capacity elicited from the cornea during pre-metamorphic stages. The axolotl is another salamander which, like the newt, regenerates its limbs or its tail with the spinal cord, but up until now all reports have shown that it does not regenerate the lens.
Results
Here we present a detailed analysis during different stages of axolotl development, and we show that despite previous beliefs the axolotl does regenerate the lens, however, only during a limited time after hatching. We have found that starting at stage 44 (forelimb bud stage) lens regeneration is possible for nearly two weeks. Regeneration occurs from the iris but, in contrast to the newt, regeneration can be elicited from either the dorsal or the ventral iris and, occasionally, even from both in the same eye. Similar studies in the zebra fish concluded that lens regeneration is not possible.
Conclusions
Regeneration of the lens is possible in the axolotl, but differs from both frogs and newts. Thus the axolotl iris provides a novel and more plastic strategy for lens regeneration.
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4) LAKE ELSINORE: Thousands of Animals Euthanized in Breeder Case
BY JOHN F. HILL, STAFF WRITER , December 19, 2012

• WEBLINK WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGES: PETA video shows conditions at Lake Elsinore facility
• WEBLINK Global Captive Breeders website

More than 18,400 rodents and 600 reptiles have been euthanized after being discovered at a breeding business in Lake Elsinore living in squalid conditions, according to animal advocates.

The animals found at Global Captive Breeders were put down during an eight-day investigation and cleanup of a Third Street warehouse.

Teams of 40 to 60 people from various organizations worked 12-hour shifts, sorting through the maggot-ridden carcasses of rodents and reptiles, said Willa Bagwell, executive director of Animal Friends of the valleys, the region’s animal shelter and animal control provider. The surviving animals were eventually deemed by veterinarians to be suffering too much and too dangerous to public health to be saved, she said.

“It’s just been horrendous,” said Bagwell, who said she’d never seen an animal case like it. “You can’t imagine the smell there.”

More than 700 dead rats and reptiles were found.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the operation was the largest seizure of animals ever in California.

The facility’s owner, Mitch Behm, agreed to surrender the live animals and allow them to be euthanized, the city said.

No arrests have been made in the case.

“Authorities are continuing their investigation and working with other agencies in determining next steps,” Lake Elsinore spokesman Justin Carlson said in a statement.

The investigation into animal neglect was sparked by a person working undercover at the facility for PETA, the organization said.

A graphic video posted on PETA’s website shows employees shooting rats with a BB gun and swinging a rat by the tail to bludgeon it on a hard surface. Emaciated reptiles, apparently too weak to move, are seen covered in flies and left to die, according to the text of the video.

The rats, bred and kept as food for reptiles, “were not just doomed to die terrifying, painful deaths inside GCB's walls, but also born into and kept in filth and misery throughout their entire lives,” according to a PETA report.

Live rats were thrown into trash bins to die. Some of the rats drowned in flooded tubs. Others had no water and died of dehydration, according to PETA’s investigator.

The reptiles were kept in dark, opaque bins and slowly starved, the report said. Reptiles transported for sale at trade shows were packed into deli cups and left without food or water for up to a week, the report said. In many cases, it took employees days to notice a reptile had died, PETA said.

The facility employed two full-time workers and one part-timer, PETA said.
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5) Lethal Effects of Water Quality on Threatened California Salamanders but Not on Co-Occurring Hybrid Salamanders
Conservation Biology
Early View (Online Version of Record published before inclusion in an issue)
1. MAUREEN E. RYAN1,*,
2. JARRETT R. JOHNSON2,
3. BENJAMIN M. FITZPATRICK3,
4. LINDA J. LOWENSTINE4,
5. ANGELA M. PICCO5,
6. H. BRADLEY SHAFFER6

1. 1Department of Evolution and Ecology, and Center for Population Biology, University of California, Davis, CA, U.S.A
2. 2Department of Biology, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY, U.S.A
3. 3Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, U.S.A
4. 4Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, U.S.A
5. 5United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Southwest Regional Office, Sacramento, CA, U.S.A
6. 6Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 621 Charles E. Young Drive South, Room LS5120, Box 951606, Los Angeles, CA 90095 & La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, La Kretz Hall, Suite 300, Box 951496, 619 Charles E. Young Drive East, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A
*Current address: Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of Washington, 201 More Hall, Box 352700, Seattle, WA 98195, U.S.A. emails moryan@u.washington.edu, ambystomo@gmail.com
Article first published online: 9 NOV 2012
DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01955.x
Abstract
Biological invasions and habitat alteration are often detrimental to native species, but their interactions are difficult to predict. Interbreeding between native and introduced species generates novel genotypes and phenotypes, and human land use alters habitat structure and chemistry. Both invasions and habitat alteration create new biological challenges and opportunities. In the intensively farmed Salinas Valley, California (U.S.A.), threatened California tiger salamanders (Ambystoma californiense) have been replaced by hybrids between California tiger salamander and introduced barred tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum mavortium). We conducted an enclosure experiment to examine the effects habitat modification and relative frequency of hybrid and native California tiger salamanders have on recruitment of salamanders and their prey, Pacific chorus frogs (Pseudacris regilla). We tested whether recruitment differed among genetic classes of tiger salamanders (hybrid or native) and pond hydroperiod (seasonal or perennial). Roughly 6 weeks into the experiment, 70% (of 378 total) of salamander larvae died in 4 out of 6 ponds. Native salamanders survived (n = 12) in these ponds only if they had metamorphosed prior to the die-offs. During die-offs, all larvae of native salamanders died, whereas 56% of hybrid larvae died. We necropsied native and hybrid salamanders, tested water quality, and queried the California Department of Pesticide Regulation database to investigate possible causes of the die-offs. Salamander die-offs, changes in the abundance of other community members (invertebrates, algae, and cyanobacteria), shifts in salamander sex ratio, and patterns of pesticide application in adjacent fields suggest that pesticide use may have contributed to die-offs. That all survivors were hybrids suggests that environmental stress may promote rapid displacement of native genotypes.
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6) Mass extinction of lizards and snakes at the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary
1. Nicholas R. Longricha,1,
2. Bhart-Anjan S. Bhullarb, and
3. Jacques A. Gauthiera
Author Affiliations
1. Edited by David Jablonski, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, and approved November 8, 2012 (received for review July 6, 2012)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences vol. 109 no. 52
Nicholas R. Longrich, 21396–21401
Abstract
The Cretaceous–Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary is marked by a major mass extinction, yet this event is thought to have had little effect on the diversity of lizards and snakes (Squamata). A revision of fossil squamates from the Maastrichtian and Paleocene of North America shows that lizards and snakes suffered a devastating mass extinction coinciding with the Chicxulub asteroid impact. Species-level extinction was 83%, and the K-Pg event resulted in the elimination of many lizard groups and a dramatic decrease in morphological disparity. Survival was associated with small body size and perhaps large geographic range. The recovery was prolonged; diversity did not approach Cretaceous levels until 10 My after the extinction, and resulted in a dramatic change in faunal composition. The squamate fossil record shows that the end-Cretaceous mass extinction was far more severe than previously believed, and underscores the role played by mass extinctions in driving diversification.
1To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: nicholas.longrich@yale.edu.

Author contributions: N.R.L. designed research; N.R.L., B.-A.S.B., and J.A.G. performed research; J.A.G. contributed new reagents/analytic tools; N.R.L., B.-A.S.B., and J.A.G. analyzed data; and N.R.L. wrote the paper.
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7) Reconciling biodiversity and carbon conservation
Ecology Letters
First Published Online 12/20/12
1. Chris D Thomas1,*,
2. Barbara J Anderson1,†,
3. Atte Moilanen2,
4. Felix Eigenbrod3,
5. Andreas Heinemeyer4,
6. Tristan Quaife5,
7. David B Roy6,
8. Simon Gillings7,
9. Paul R Armsworth8,
10. Kevin J Gaston9

Author Information
1. 1Department of Biology, University of York, York, UK
2. 2Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki, Finland
3. 3Centre for Biological Sciences, Faculty of Natural & Environmental Sciences, University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Southampton, UK
4. 4Centre of Terrestrial Carbon Dynamics (York Centre), Stockholm Environment Institute at York & Environment Department, University of York, York, UK
5. 5Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
6. 6NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK
7. 7British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Norfolk, UK
8. 8Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA
9. 9Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Penryn, Cornwall, UK
10. †School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia
*Correspondence: E-mail: chris.thomas@york.ac.uk
DOI: 10.1111/ele.12054
Abstract
Climate change is leading to the development of land-based mitigation and adaptation strategies that are likely to have substantial impacts on global biodiversity. Of these, approaches to maintain carbon within existing natural ecosystems could have particularly large benefits for biodiversity. However, the geographical distributions of terrestrial carbon stocks and biodiversity differ. Using conservation planning analyses for the New World and Britain, we conclude that a carbon-only strategy would not be effective at conserving biodiversity, as have previous studies. Nonetheless, we find that a combined carbon-biodiversity strategy could simultaneously protect 90% of carbon stocks (relative to a carbon-only conservation strategy) and > 90% of the biodiversity (relative to a biodiversity-only strategy) in both regions. This combined approach encapsulates the principle of complementarity, whereby locations that contain different sets of species are prioritised, and hence disproportionately safeguard localised species that are not protected effectively by carbon-only strategies. It is efficient because localised species are concentrated into small parts of the terrestrial land surface, whereas carbon is somewhat more evenly distributed; and carbon stocks protected in one location are equivalent to those protected elsewhere. Efficient compromises can only be achieved when biodiversity and carbon are incorporated together within a spatial planning process.
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8) Q&A: Extinctions and the impact of Homo sapiens
Robert M May
• Correspondence: Robert M May robert.may@zoo.ox.ac.uk
Author Affiliations
Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, The Tinbergen Building, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK
BMC Biology 2012, 10:106 doi:10.1186/1741-7007-10-106
The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7007/10/106 a which the two main charts will be found.
Received: 13 December 2012 /Accepted: 19 December 2012/ Published: 20 December 2012
© 2012 May; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Extinctions have happened ever since life began - is there anything different about man-made extinctions?
Looked at in the large, the history of life on Earth is one of continuous change, driven by the interplay between evolutionary processes and the altered environments that can result. Some of these environmental events have had external causes (for example, the asteroidal impact that caused the most recent of the so-called Big Five mass extinctions, which eliminated the dinosaurs), while others have arisen from changing interactions among species (for example, the early appearance of oxygen in the atmosphere, resulting essentially from biogeochemical processes in primitive ecosystems). Are the recent past and impending future extinctions, unambiguously caused by humans, different? Yes and no. No, in the sense that the explosive growth of the animal species Homo sapiens can be seen as just another evolutionary process with increasingly serious ecological consequences for other species. Yes, in the sense that - unlike earlier extinctions - the causative agent (that's us) is aware of what is happening and could act to reverse current trends. Unfortunately, we show few signs of doing so.
What are the major causes of extinctions (man-made or otherwise)?
The causes of recent, human-associated extinctions are usually listed under three headings: over-exploitation, habitat destruction, introduced aliens. But you could, with a bit of a stretch, brigade many past extinctions under one or more of these headings. The above-mentioned demise of the dinosaurs, or the massive wave of marine extinctions which mark the end of the Mesozoic, could be called 'habitat change'. The opening and closing of land bridges, as tectonic plates moved around over the past billion years and more, introduced 'invasive aliens', which restructured many ecosystems. More generally, over geological time-scales, natural evolutionary processes created changes within plant and animal populations, with new winners and new losers. In that sense, humans look like being the main agents of the Big Sixth wave of extinctions, on whose breaking tip we currently stand.
How are the man-made versions distinct?
The very big difference between past extinctions and the current human-associated ones is we understand what is happening. And we can, in principle, choose to modify our behavior to preserve the awe-inspiring diversity of plant and animal life we have inherited. Even were we to do this - and we show few signs of it - there would still, over relatively long time-scales, be changes. They would, however, be more likely to be the pseudo-extinctions technically referred to as 'relay and replacement', as in the series of differently named species along the continuum as Eohippus evolved into today's horse.
How much do we know about the rate of extinction before humans started interfering?
As in so many areas of science, we know quite a lot, and continue to learn more. One measure of our knowledge is indicated in Table 1, by Raup, which gives the estimated average lifetime, from origination to extinction, of a variety of animal groups. Figure 1 complements this by showing numbers of families (remember the taxonomic hierarchy: species, genus, family,...) of marine animals over the sweep of geological time. The figure testifies to increasing diversity and species richness, interrupted by episodes of mass extinction. Overall, these data suggest average life-spans of animal species in the fossil record to be around 1 to 10 million years, with significant variation within and among taxonomic groups, and with the higher end of the range being more common.
Figure 1. The history of the diversity of the marine animal families over the past 600 million years. The solid line connects 77 data points, each showing the total number of well-skeletonized families known from a particular geological epoch (each of whose duration is indicated by the width along the × -xis). The numbered arrows indicate the five recognized episodes of 'mass extinction'; the one labeled 3 is that which separates the Paleozoic from the Mesozoic, and the one labeled 5 is the one that ended the dinosaurs and ushered in our own era.
How much do we know about the rate of extinction after humans started interfering?
Here our knowledge should be better. Part of the problem is what a management consultant might call the misallocation of resources. The workforce of systematists and taxonomists is estimated to be apportioned roughly equally among vertebrate animals, invertebrate animals and plants (with microorganisms an order of magnitude smaller). Yet the known number of vertebrate species is smaller than those of plant species and invertebrate species by one and two orders of magnitude, respectively. Things get worse as we move to research literature on conservation biology: a recent study of 2,700 papers published over 15 years in the two top conservation research journals shows 69% on vertebrates (four-fifths of the 69% on birds and mammals), 20% on plants, and 11% on invertebrates (one-third of the 11% on Lepidoptera). Nevertheless, if we assume that documented extinctions among birds and mammals occur at a rate typical of other groups, we can make an indirect assessment of the recent acceleration in extinction rates. The IUCN Red Data Books document the extinction of roughly one bird or mammal species each year over the past century. This is, in effect, a group of around 1,400 species each playing a game of Russian Roulette with one bullet in a revolver with 1,400 chambers. On this basis, each can expect to survive around 1,000 years. In relation to the 1 to 10 million year expectation noted above, this represents a speeding-up of extinction rates by a factor 1,000 to 10,000. Figure 2 shows this in more detail.
Figure 2. Extinctions per thousand species per millennium. This figure, taken from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, shows the estimated average lifetime of species in particular groups of animals, at different periods. 'Distant past' refers to average extinction rates as estimated from the fossil record. 'Recent past' is for extinction rates calculated from known extinctions of species (the lower estimate) or known extinctions plus 'possibly extinct' species (upper bound) over the past century or so. 'Future' extinctions are derived from a variety of different models, all based on current trends, but considerably uncertain (as indicated by the wider range).
Do we even know enough about how many species there are today?
If the Star Ship 'Enterprise' were to land on Earth, what would be the first question the crew asked of our planet? I think it would be, how many distinct species are there here? I think they would be shocked by our ignorance. We do have very good knowledge of how many bird species there are. The International Ornithological Congress says 10,448, although some would argue plus or minus 500. The mammalian total is smaller, 5,000 give or take 10%. Plant species add up to around 300,000. There are approximately 1 million known insects, but the true number could be several times this. Adding other smaller taxons gives a total species count in the neighborhood of maybe 1.7 million, although unresolved synonyms - same species identified and named separately in different museum collections - may inflate this. Estimates of the true total, in my opinion, are in the plausible range of 3 to 8 million distinct eukaryotic species. In other words, we have documented only one half, maybe only one-fifth, of our planet's biological diversity.
Why should we be concerned about extinctions?
I would distinguish three kinds of concern.
The first might be called narrowly utilitarian: the plant and animal species that are being extinguished could represent important genetic resources for tomorrow's biotech revolution. We are burning the books before we have read them. I think this is a weak argument, because tomorrow's advances in understanding the molecular machinery of life will, I believe, see us (for example) designing new drugs from the molecules up.
The second might be called broadly utilitarian: although the services provided by ecosystems, which are many and varied, are not taken into account in conventional measures of gross domestic product (GDP) , they nevertheless are very important to us (and insofar as they can be given a value, it is estimated to be roughly of the magnitude of the more conventional global GDP). The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment classifies these services under 24 headings, and finds that 15 of these are being degraded, 4 are improving, and 5 are such that we know too little to assess. Deplorable though this is, I believe we may be smart enough to survive in a biologically impoverished world. It would, however, be an unattractive world resembling that of the cult movie Blade Runner.
Which brings me to the third argument, which is that we have an ethical responsibility not to deprive tomorrow's world of its heritage. Aldo Leopold expressed it well, mourning the death of Martha, the last passenger pigeon: 'We grieve because no living man will see again the onrushing phalanx of victorious birds sweeping a path for Spring across the March skies, chasing the defeated Winter from all the woods and prairies.... Our grandfathers, who saw the glory of the fluttering hosts, were less well-housed, well-fed, well-clothed than we are. The strivings by which they bettered our lot are also those which deprived us of pigeons. Perhaps we now grieve because we are not sure, in our hearts, that we have gained by the exchange'.
Need it be an exchange?
That's the question.
Where can I go for more information?
See references [1-5].
Books
Lawton JH, May RM: Extinction Rates. Oxford University Press; 1995.
Raven PH: Nature and Human Society: The Quest for a Sustainable World. Washington DC: National Academy Press; 1977.
Millenium Ecosystem Assessment: Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. Washington, DC: Island Press; 2005.
References
1. Raup DM: Cohort analysis of generic survivorship.
Paleobiology 1978, 4:1-15.
2. Sepkoski JJ: Phylogenetic and ecological patterns in the Phanerozoic history of marine biodiversity. In Systematics, Ecology, and the Biodiversity Crisis. Edited by Eldridge N. Columbia University Press; 1992:77-100.
3. Benton MJ: Diversification and extinction in the history of life.
Science 1995, 268:52-58. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text
4. Costello MJ, May RM, Stork NE: Can we name the Earth's species before they go extinct?
Science 2012, in press.
5. Stork NE: Re-assessing current extinction rates.
Biodiv Conserv 2010, 19:357-371. Publisher Full Text
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Volume # 13 Issue # 1 1/6/13
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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“The Most Comprehensive Turtle Book.”
TURTLES, TORTOISES AND TERRAPINS- A Natural History -Revised, Expanded and Updated by Ronald Orenstein, 448 pages, that’s 150 more than the first edition, 9" X 11",more than 300 full color photographs, range maps, bibliography, index
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HEALTH CARE AND REHABILITATION OF TURTLES AND TORTOISES
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Covers everything from general information such as: turtle anatomy, diet, stress, hibernation, brumation, outdoor and indoor enclosures and more --- to over 250 pages on shell fractures, tube feeding, bacterial and viral diseases, parasites, diagnostics, antibiotics in chelonians, and with supporting photographs. The author took great time and care to translate her and others experiences in turtle rehabilitation without the jargon, so all turtle owners enthusiasts can understand.
Full-color photographs. (2012) 393 pp. Softcover, by Amanda Ebenhack $39.85 plus $6.00 S&H see below on how to order (Overseas email us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org or S&H price)

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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1) Video of story: When turtles Cross the Road: Bad Things Happen.
2) Why Are Drivers Aiming for Turtles Crossing the Highway?
3) Rescue Dogs Sniff for Salamanders to Save Rare Species and Help People
4) New effort to save Sonoma County's tiger salamanders
5) Hudson students give baby turtles a head start (Blanding’s Turtles)
6) The Death of HR 511
7) Turtle rescue centre opens in Shan State, Myanmar
8) Sea Turtles continue to strand in record numbers in Cape Cod
9) 22 Turtles Saved in Latest Bust on Bali Smugglers
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Ranging from the highlands of Southeast Asia, home to two primitive tortoises of the genus Manouria, to the restricted range of the Geometric Tortoise (Psammobates geometricus) in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, to the West Coast of the US home of the Pacific Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata), to the cryptic wood turtles (Rhinoclemmys sp.) of Mexico, and almost everywhere in between.
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1) Video of story:
”When turtles Cross the Road: Bad Things Happen.
http://www.usatoday.com/videos/tech/2012/12/27/1793453/
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2) Why Are Drivers Aiming for Turtles Crossing the Highway?
January 2, 2013 By Erin Straza From the Christ & PopCulture Blog
(Just an interesting example on how a story like the one on people aiming for turtles on the highway study is not only everywhere, and not only becoming part of the pop culture, but being used by everyone to further their agendas. This is just one example.)

News outlets are reporting the results of a recent research experiment by Clemson University student Nathan Weaver—and it reveals the not-so-sunny-side of human nature. Weaver was looking for ways to give turtles a safer passage across busy highways. He placed rubber turtles in the roadway and recorded how traffic responded. He found that 1 in 50 drivers aimed for the turtles—and ran them over.
What began as concern for turtles has turned into human psychoanalysis. Weaver and others are now commenting on human nature:
And even in today’s more enlightened, modern world, sometimes humans feel a need to prove they are the dominant species on this planet by taking a two-ton metal vehicle and squishing a defenseless animal under the tires, said Hal Herzog, a Western Carolina University psychology professor.
“They aren’t thinking, really. It is not something people think about. It just seems fun at the time,” Herzog said. “It is the dark side of human nature.”
Dark side, indeed.
But this isn’t anything new, really. We didn’t need another research study to prove that something is very dark in us and in this world. Humans are capable of all manner of heinous acts against man and creature alike. Even those who don’t believe in God or sin would agree that this world is a mess. Christians see the mess and assert that sin has taken its toll.
This is why we need something more than legislation for turtle safety—although I’m all for that. The darkness found in the human heart will find an outlet one way or another, unless it’s dealt with at the root.
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3) Rescue Dogs Sniff for Salamanders to Save Rare Species and Help People
Posted by Bruce Hill, Santa Fe National Forest and Ellita Willis, Office of Communication, US Forest Service, on December 12, 2012 at 3:19 PM

Meet Frehley, a Border Collie rescued from the Seattle Animal Shelter who climbed the Jemez Mountains, clambering over rocks to track rare salamanders. Photo credit: Center for Conservation Biology.
Shelter dogs that are often rejected are getting a new lease on life. Plus they’re helping wildlife and people! These conservation canines climbed the Jemez Mountains, clambering over rocks, running from smell to smell, to track where rare Jemez salamanders, a species found nowhere else in the world, are living in New Mexico.
This summer, the Santa Fe National Forest, along with many partners collaborated to bring two trained canines to the forest to locate the salamanders. The dogs were deployed to the Jemez Mountains during a monsoon as salamanders can be found more easily during the rainy season. The furry tracking specialists’ service is critical to the future of Jemez salamanders and our forests. The warmer, drier climate in New Mexico has impacted the habitat, threatening their survival.
Meet Sampson, a Labrador rescued from the Seattle Humane Society who climbed the Jemez Mountains, clambering over rocks to track rare salamanders. Photo Credit: Mark L. Watson New Mexico Dept. of Game and Fish.
Because salamanders are succumbing to warmer temperatures and drought conditions, their population has drastically declined. Between the two dogs, and with human assistance, only seven of the salamanders were found during the latest search effort. By mapping the salamanders, scientists will be able to create a land management plan that will help salamanders, as well as the forests we all depend on for clean water supplies and recreation. The work includes restoring the forest, woodlands and streams.
Project partners plan to bring the dogs back in the spring or summer of 2013. The partnering agencies involved in the effort include: Santa Fe National Forest, The Nature Conservancy, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, US Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Arizona, the Pueblo of Jemez, New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute and the Valles Caldera Trust in the Jemez Mountains.
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4) New effort to save Sonoma County's tiger salamanders

By KEVIN McCALLUM , THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Last Modified: Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 3:40 p.m.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to develop a recovery plan for the endangered California tiger salamander in Sonoma County by June of 2016.
The decision announced Friday was the result of a settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity, which sued to force the federal agency to come up with a recovery plan for the stocky, spotted amphibians, which have been on the endangered list since 2002.
The agency also agreed to write recovery plans for separate populations of the salamanders in Santa Barbara and the Central Coast by 2017.
A recovery plan is “a detailed document that lays out all the things that scientists think need to get done to get the species off the list,” said Collette Adkins Giese, an attorney for the Tucson, Ariz.-based Center for Biological Diversity.
The Endangered Species Act requires the federal government to protect imperiled populations and help them recover. The agency’s guidelines call for recovery plans within 2½ years for a species being listed, Adkins Giese said.
The populations of salamanders in Santa Barbara, Sonoma and the Central Coast were listed as endangered in 2000, 2002, and 2004 respectively.
Since then, the agency had made few strides toward establishing recovery plans, partly because of political battles over the establishment of critical habitat, Adkins Giese said.
“This is the type of situation where litigation really is needed, where the agency really needed this pressure to get it back together,” she said.
The Fish and Wildlife Service does its best to prioritize the recovery plans for endangered and threatened species with limited dollars, said Michael Woodbridge, spokesman for the agency in Sacramento.
“We don’t have unlimited resources to get all these recovery plans done for all these species,” Woodbridge said.
Fourteen percent of the 221 species listed as endangered have no recovery plan, Adkins Giese said.
The Sonoma population is the most at risk of the three, with its breeding areas under significant development pressure, Adkins Giese said.
Last year the agency established 47,383 acres as “critical habitat” for the salamander, a zone 27,000 acres smaller than a plan proposed in 2005 and 2009.
The zone occupies a swath of low-lying land stretching from the northwestern outskirts of Windsor to Pepper Road just north of Petaluma, and from the main waterway of the Laguna de Santa Rosa in the west to Petaluma Hill Road in the east.
A critical habitat designation triggers an additional layer of review and habitat safeguards for projects requiring federal approval.
The recovery plan won’t change those triggers or impose additional restrictions on property owners, Adkins Giese said.
Instead it will likely focus on the kind of scientific research and habitat restoration necessary to bring the species back from the brink.
Adkins Giese said landowners with property designated critical habitat should embrace the recovery plan process because it’s “a road map for how to get that animal actually off the endangered species list.”
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5) Hudson students give baby turtles a head start (Blanding’s Turtles)

By Jeff Malachowski/Daily News staff, The MetroWest Daily News


HUDSON 1/5/13 — Instead of dodging chipmunks, herons and other predators in the wild, four young Blanding’s turtles safely wade in the shallow waters of two tanks at JFK Middle School.
In recent years, Blanding’s turtles have become a threatened species in Massachusetts because of the continued loss of their habitat, which are sandy marshes, and various predators in the wild. Blanding’s turtles - like many types of turtles - also are killed crossing busy roads.
"There are very few making it across," said science teacher Brian Blake.
Seventh-grade students in Blake and Beth Joki’s science classes are doing their part to protect the Blanding’s turtle population, with the students raising and caring for four Blanding’s turtles throughout the year. The turtles will be released into the Assabet Valley National Wildlife Refuge in the spring as part of a conservation project organized by local biologists.
Blanding’s turtles' survival rate the first year they are released is 85 percent, said Joki.
"We’re trying to build the Blanding’s population," said Joki.
All four yellow-spotted turtles, two named Squirt, one named Tyrone and another called Crush, need to grow before they can be released. They will be equipped with a tracking chip to allow biologists to monitor their movements once they're freed.
Joki and Blake received a $2,000 grant in June from the NEA Foundation to participate in the conservation project.
"Students will learn they, too, can make an impact on their environment in positive ways," said Joki.
Since receiving the four hatchlings in October, students have fed the turtles twice a day, cleaned their tanks each week and measured and weighed the reptiles. The turtles, which weigh about 10 grams and can fit on the tips of a few fingers, will grow to about 6 inches and weigh 80 grams when they are released.
"We’re helping them grow," said Jaylene Hurley, a seventh-grader. "I love having a class pet."
The turtles are not just class pets, as students have taken on the responsibility of caring for them and volunteered to take them home and care for them during school vacations.
"Watching them grow is my favorite part," Maia Klingenberger said as she scrubbed a tank with James Brooks, Keith Gagne and Ryan Hatfield. "They’re really cute."
Brooks’ favorite part about having the turtles is learning about their habitat and weighing and measuring them.
Allowing the students to take a hands-on approach to caring for the turtles and helping the animals grow helps bring the issue of the steadily declining Blanding’s turtle population to the forefront for students.
"It really brings it to life," said Blake.
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6) The Death of HR 511
By Andrew Wyatt
Today the 112th Congress came to a close, and with that HR511, aka “The Python Ban” died a quiet death. HR511 was a legislative version of the recent rule making by US Fish & Wildlife Service to add nine constrictor snakes to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act. Where the rule making fell short by adding only the Burmese python and 3 other snakes, HR511 would have superseded the rule making adding all nine snakes to the Injurious list. Much to the chagrin of animal rights advocates, after two years and two congressional hearings, HR511 has finally been defeated.
Introduced in early 2011 by Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FL), HR511 languished with very little attention for about one year. In early 2012 the bill moved to a mark up hearing and was reported out of the House Judiciary Committee with two amendments that would require “knowingly violating” the law, and provide exemptions for certain shippers. Uncharacteristically, HR511 was held for legal review until September.
Upon its final release by the Judiciary Committee, HR511 was picked up by the House Natural Resources Committee for hearing. Andrew Wyatt was the first expert witness chosen to testify on behalf of herpetoculture by committee staff. Wyatt nominated Dr. Brady Barr of the National Geographic Society and Shawn Heflick of NatGeo WILD also be called as expert witnesses. PIJAC recommended Colette Sutherland to represent the pet industry.
On November 29th, 2012, Chairman John Flemming (R-LA) the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs held a full hearing. Wyatt used the new cold weather study by Jacobson et al, 2012 as the central argument demonstrating why pythons were unable to survive north of the southern tip of Florida. Heflick and Barr related their “boots on the ground” experience with pythons in the Everglades supporting the findings of Jacobson et al. Colette Sutherland gave a heartfelt depiction of the impact that unjust legislation would have on her family, business and other similar businesses. Wyatt reinforced that HR511, if passed, would have an economic impact of as much as $104 million annually.
Wyatt, Heflick and Barr were extremely effective in convincing the subcommittee that HR511 was based on fundamentally flawed science and would be a “job killer” in a time of economic hardship. With herpetoculture advocates now proactively dictating the narrative regarding the question of south florida pythons, the committee decided to discharge HR511 without a vote; thus curtailing all momentum from the bill.
Today HR511 died with the close of the 112th Congress.
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7) Turtle rescue centre opens in Shan State, Myanmar

The Myanmar Times By Aye Sapay Phyu | Monday, 31 December 2012

A rescue facility for turtles and tortoises seized from illegal wildlife traders has opened in Naung Cho township in Shan State, according to a statement posted on the website of the US-based Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), which is providing support for the centre.
The Turtle Rescue Centre (TRC) was dedicated on December 6 at Zeepin Forest Reserve’s Ban Bwe Tree Nursery, about 30 kilometres (18 miles) east of Pyin Oo Lwin.
TSA president Rick Hudson was quoted in the online statement as saying that he hoped the “facility will offer new hope to thousands of turtles and tortoises confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade”.
U Than Myint, the country program director of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), said the centre will be used not only to handle turtles seized from traffickers, but also to conserve endangered turtle species and to prevent the spread of disease to other turtles when the animals are released back into the wild.
“We will separate the common species from the endangered species among the turtles that are sent to the centre. Then they will be supported with food and water, as well as with health care services,” he said.
“We’ve found that some seized turtles had not been given proper food and water for one or two months, and some were injured or suffered from disease. Other turtles in the forest can be affected by diseases passed from sick ones. We will conserve the critically endangered species at the centre, and the common species will be released back into their natural habitat once they become well.”
U Than Myint said the centre’s location along the Mandalay-Lashio Road places it in one of the hotspots along one of the routes used to illegally traffic wild animals from Myanmar to China.
“More rescue centres need to be established along the other trafficking routes to border areas,” he said.
“It will be more convenient for transporting seized turtles if we can established rescue centres in areas such as Myitkyina in Kachin State and Kawthaung in Tanintharyi Region. Otherwise, it will cost a lot of money to send turtles seized in Kawthaung to the rescue centre in Naung Cho.”
According to the TSA website, confiscations of trafficked animals will be managed by Forestry Department staff stationed at the centre, while a TSA and WCS turtle team will provide management, oversight and logistical support. Local veterinary support will be provided by veterinarians from the zoos in Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw, both of which are trained in the care and handling of turtle confiscations.
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8) Sea Turtles continue to strand in record numbers in Cape Cod

Cape Cod Times -December 29, 2012- WELLFLEET — Massachusetts Audubon Society staff and volunteers continued to find sea turtles washing up on Cape Cod beaches during the holidays.
Nearly a dozen of these tropical turtles came ashore, their metabolism virtually shut down as a result of exposure to cold water, until they could do little but float and get pushed around by onshore winds.
Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary staff members said this year's total of 350 threatened or endangered sea turtles that have been recovered on the Cape shattered the past record of 278 set in 1999 and is the highest since they started keeping track 30 years ago.
In a statement Friday, sanctuary director Robert Prescott said the dramatic increase was likely because there were a lot more turtles in Cape Cod Bay this year.
Hurricane Sandy also helped drive many to shore in late October.
Other records were broken this year as well, including 96 loggerhead turtles retrieved from beaches, while turtle rescuers might see only a dozen in any given year.
Also, a record 228 endangered Kemp's ridley turtles were recovered, and 23 rescued green turtles nearly double the previous record.
The normal survival rate for these rescued sea turtles is 45 percent, but 65 percent survived this year, most sent to the New England Aquarium's turtle rehabilitation center in Quincy, with some going to the National Marine Life Center in Buzzards Bay.
The New England Aquarium had to ship 75 relatively healthy or stable turtles to other facilities to make room for new arrivals.
In the statement, Prescott said sea turtles may continue to wash up on Cape beaches late into January because water temperatures have been unseasonably warm.
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9) 22 Turtles Saved in Latest Bust on Bali Smugglers
December 29, 2012
Denpasar. Police in Bali have successfully prevented the attempted smuggling of 22 endangered turtles into the island, bringing the number saved from the restaurant trade this month to 55.

Comr. Ambariyadi Wijaya, the Denpasar Police’s chief of detectives, said on Friday that community guards patrolling Pandawa Beach in South Kuta discovered the 22 turtles, all tied and bound, late on Thursday evening.

He said that the green sea turtles were an average of one meter in length and estimated to be at least 50 years old.

“Their resale value is quite high, fetching at least Rp 5 million [$518] per animal,” he said.

The smugglers are believed to have planned to sell the turtles to restaurants for slaughter and consumption, he said.

“We’re trying to get the perpetrators,” Ambariyadi said, adding that they were believed to have fled when the patrol came along.

He added that the perpetrators were in the middle of unloading their cargo.

“They didn’t have time to take the turtles away,” he said.

Ambariyadi also said that police suspected that the group was the same group that attempted to smuggle 33 turtles into the island on Dec. 9.

Soemarsono, the head of the Denpasar Nature Conservancy Office (BKSDA), voiced anger at the continuing attempt to trade the endangered species, saying that his agency was planning a special operation against smuggling syndicates.

He declined to give more details other than saying that some targets had already been identified.

Soemarsono said that some of the newly seized turtles were suffering from dehydration and had wounds. He said the BKSDA would take custody of the animals for rehabilitation before releasing them back to into the sea.

Green sea turtles are listed as endangered and are a protected species under Indonesian law.

There have been at least six turtle smuggling attempts in Bali this year involving hundreds of the animals, Soemarsono said.

Officials have acknowledged that Bali is a profitable smuggling destination because of the continuing high demand for turtle meat, both for consumption and for Hindu ritual sacrifices, despite an official prohibition.

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Top 4 books have been heavily discounted.
Firefly Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians, 2nd Edition, General Editor Chris Mattison, 240 glossy pages, Oversize Book Once $50.00 - Now $30.00 Plus $12.00 S&H
The Lizard King, by Bryan Christy, 256 Pages, Hardcover-List Price $25.00 Sale $12.00 per book. $6.00 for S&H. (Only 2 copies left)

Albino pythons, endangered lizards and other reptiles are the currency of an underworld as dangerous and lucrative as the drug trade. Freelance writer Christy's debut is an enthusiastic chronicle of the rise and fall of a lizard kingpin and the federal agent who pursued him. Mike Van Nostrand inherited Strictly Reptiles, an import-export business in Florida, from his father, Ray, turning it into a multimillion-dollar smuggling operation. Van Nostrand imported reptiles of all shapes and sizes, usually concealed in the suitcases or clothing of his mules, and sold them to collectors and pet stores. He exploited loopholes in the international treaty on endangered-species trade and paid off corrupt officials._____________
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Invasive Pythons in the United States- Ecology of an Introduced Predator
Michael E. Dorcas and John D. Willson, Foreword by Whit Gibbons
The first detailed, comprehensive study of this invasive predator
Page count: 176, 188 color photos, 8 maps, 1 table, 7 figures
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Was $25.00 Now Just $15.00 plus add $6.00 for shipping and handling.
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Turtles of the United States and Canada by Carl H. Ernst and Jeffrey E. Lovich
List Price: $98.00, (Hardcover) 840 pages
The Johns Hopkins University Press; Second edition

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[A] monumental work... the standard reference to North American turtles for the next generation of biologists. Every serious vertebrate biologist on the continent will want a copy. (Herpetological Review )
The most comprehensive compilation on North American turtles ever attempted and achieved.(Herpetofauna )
In 1972, C. H. Ernst completed the daunting task of compiling a sequel to A. F. Carr's (1952) landmark Handbook of Turtles. Two decades later, Ernst, this time with assistance from former student and fellow cheloniophile J. E. Lovich, has done it again. (Copeia )
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Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico volumes 1 and 2 -$75.00 each book, $13.00 S&H for both books, $6.00 S&H for only one book.

Last year, in Volume one the Ernsts covered Heloderma, Micruroides, Micrurus, Pelamis, Agkistrodon, Sistrurus
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"Likely to remain the standard reference for the next 20
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NOW COMES PART II

Carl and Evelyn Ernst have completely revised their landmark reference Venomous Reptiles of North America to present the most comprehensive review of these animals in years. A review that now needs two volumes to complete. ;Volume One of this definitive work presented dramatically improved species accounts of the venomous lizards and elapid and viperid snakes found north of Mexico's twenty-fifth parallel.

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Re: Herp- Digest Newsletter

Postby Philsuma » Sat Jan 12, 2013 11:07 pm

Volume # 13 Issue # 2 1/12/13
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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“The Most Comprehensive Turtle Book.”
TURTLES, TORTOISES AND TERRAPINS- A Natural History -Revised, Expanded and Updated by Ronald Orenstein, 448 pages, that’s 150 more than the first edition, 9" X 11",more than 300 full color photographs, range maps, bibliography, index
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HEALTH CARE AND REHABILITATION OF TURTLES AND TORTOISES
An excellent, must have for every turtle owner and every turtle & wildlife rehabilitator
Covers everything from general information such as: turtle anatomy, diet, stress, hibernation, brumation, outdoor and indoor enclosures and more --- to over 250 pages on shell fractures, tube feeding, bacterial and viral diseases, parasites, diagnostics, antibiotics in chelonians, and with supporting photographs. The author took great time and care to translate her and others experiences in turtle rehabilitation without the jargon, so all turtle owners enthusiasts can understand.
Full-color photographs. (2012) 393 pp. Softcover, by Amanda Ebenhack $39.85 plus $6.00 S&H see below on how to order (Overseas email us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org or S&H price)

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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1) Color-assortative mating in a color-polymorphic lacertid lizard
2) Blood lead levels, δ-ALAD inhibition, and hemoglobin content in blood of giant toad (Rhinella marina) to asses lead exposure in three areas surrounding an industrial complex in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico
3) Amphibians' response to the lunar synodic cycle-a review of current knowledge, recommendations, and implications for conservation
4) Rapid Increases and Time-Lagged Declines in Amphibian Occupancy after Wildfire
5) U.S. government sued over endangered sea turtles (Loggerheads on West Coast.)
6) Global Warming Beneficial to Ratsnakes
7) China launches traditional medicine resource center
8) Genetic Matchmaking Saves Endangered Frogs

9) Sea Turtles breathe new life (Sri Lanka)

10) Emerging Consensus Shows Climate Change Already Having Major Effects on Ecosystems and Species
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“THE TORTOISE” The Turtle Conservancy’s -For Members Only-New Periodical Publication (But it’s not just about Tortoises).
HerpDigest has Gained Access to a Limited Number of the Very First issue of the Turtle Conservancy’s New Periodical Publication “The Tortoise.” Recently available only to members. And they are going fast.
According to the Turtle Conservancy, by publishing “The Tortoise” on a yearly basis, it will keep it relevant by containing more in-depth information on the latest work being done to save turtles and tortoises all over the world than any other publication.
Issue # 1, is an excellent example of this, with it’s 160 pages, 100 color photos and 14 reports and stories on the work done and that needs to be done, on a number of threatened and critically endangered species from around the globe:
Ranging from the highlands of Southeast Asia, home to two primitive tortoises of the genus Manouria, to the restricted range of the Geometric Tortoise (Psammobates geometricus) in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, to the West Coast of the US home of the Pacific Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata), to the cryptic wood turtles (Rhinoclemmys sp.) of Mexico, and almost everywhere in between.
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1) Color-assortative mating in a color-polymorphic lacertid lizard
Authors: Pérez i de Lanuza, Guillem1; Font, Enrique1; Carazo, Pau2
Source: Behavioral Ecology, Volume 24, Number 1, 17 October 2013 , pp. 273-279(7)
The date of publication is not a typo on my part, but that is how it is listed. I’d also try 2012.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Abstract:
Color polymorphisms are common in lizards, which provide an excellent model system to study their evolution and adaptive function. The lacertid genus Podarcis is particularly interesting because it comprises several polymorphic species. Previous studies with lacertid lizards have tried to explain the maintenance of color polymorphisms by correlational selection between color morphs and several phenotypic traits. Particular attention has been paid to their putative role as signals reflecting alternative reproductive strategies under frequency-dependent selection, but the relationship between mating patterns and color polymorphism has not been previously considered. In this study, we use longitudinal behavioral data obtained during six consecutive breeding seasons (2006-2011) in a free-ranging polymorphic population of Podarcis muralis lizards to examine the hypothesis that lizards mate assortatively by color. We provide spectrophotometric data that confirm the existence of discrete color morphs and show that morphs are ontogenetically stable once they develop fully in sexually mature individuals. We also present data on the year-to-year variation of relative morph frequencies. Finally, we provide evidence that, over a 6-year period, homomorphic male-female pairs in the wild were significantly more common than heteromorphic pairs. Taken together, our results suggest that color assortative mating may be involved in the maintenance of discrete color morphs in this and other lacertid species.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/beheco/ars164
Affiliations: 1: <institution>Ethology Lab, Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, University of Valencia</institution>, <addr-line>46071 Valencia,</addr-line><country>Spain and </country>, 2: <institution>Ethology Lab, Cavanilles Institute of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Biology, University of Valencia</institution>, <addr-line>46071 Valencia,</addr-line><country>Spain and </country>, ,
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2) Blood lead levels, δ-ALAD inhibition, and hemoglobin content in blood of giant toad (Rhinella marina) to asses lead exposure in three areas surrounding an industrial complex in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Mexico
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
Volume 185, Issue 2 , pp 1685-1698

• César Arturo Ilizaliturri-Hernández (1)
• Donaji Josefina González-Mille (1)
• Jesús Mejía-Saavedra (1)
• Guillermo Espinosa-Reyes (1)
• Arturo Torres-Dosal (2)
• Iván Pérez-Maldonado (1)

Author Affiliations
• 1. Departamento Toxicología Ambiental, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, Avenida Venustiano Carranza 2405, CP 78210, San Luis Potosí, SLP, México
• 2. El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), Unidad San Cristóbal, Carretera Panamericana y Periférico Sur s/n, CP 29290, San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México

Abstract
The Coatzacoalcos Region in Veracruz, Mexico houses one of the most important industrial complexes in Mexico and Latin America. Lead is an ubiquitous environmental pollutant which represents a great risk to human health and ecosystems. Amphibian populations have been recognized as biomonitors of changes in environmental conditions. The purpose of this research is to measure exposure to lead and evaluate hematological and biochemical effects in specimens of giant toads (Rhinella marina) taken from three areas surrounding an industrial complex in the Coatzacoalcos River downstream. Lead levels in toads' blood are between 10.8 and 70.6 μg/dL and are significantly higher in industrial sites. We have found a significant decrease in the delta-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (δ-ALAD) activity in blood from 35.3 to 78 % for the urban–industrial and industrial sites, respectively. In addition, we have identified a strong inverse relationship between the δ-ALAD activity and the blood lead levels (r = −0.84, p  < 0.001). Hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin levels, as well as the condition factor, are found to be lower at industrial sites compared with the reference sites. Our results suggest that the R. marina can be considered a good biomonitor of the δ-ALAD activity inhibition and hematological alterations at low lead concentrations.
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3) Amphibians' response to the lunar synodic cycle-a review of current knowledge, recommendations, and implications for conservation
Authors: Grant, Rachel1; Halliday, Tim2; Chadwick, Elizabeth2
Source: Behavioral Ecology, Volume 24, Number 1, 17 October 2013 , pp. 53-62(10)
The date of the issue is not a typo on my part but as it was printed.
Abstract:
The way in which amphibians respond to the geophysical changes brought about by the lunar synodic cycle is a neglected area of their ecology, but one which has recently generated interest. Knowledge of how amphibians respond to lunar phase is of intrinsic interest and also may be important for conservation and monitoring of populations. We surveyed the literature on amphibians' responses to the lunar cycle and found 79 examples where moon phase in relation to amphibian behavior and ecology had been studied, across diverse amphibian taxa. Of the examples reviewed, most of them show some type of response to lunar phase, with only a few species being unaffected. We found that there is no significant difference between the numbers of species which increase, and those that decrease activity or reproductive behavior (including calling) during a full moon. The responses to the lunar cycle can not be generalized across taxonomic group, but instead are highly species specific and relate directly to the species' ecology. The primary reasons for changes in amphibian behavior in response to the lunar cycle appear to be temporal synchronization of breeding and predator avoidance. Responses to changes in prey availability, facilitation of visual signalling and use of lunar cues in navigation and homing are less prevalent but merit further investigation. Comparisons between studies are hampered by differences in field and analytical methods; we therefore make a number of recommendations for future collection and analysis of data related to lunar phase.
Keywords: amphibians; circular statistics; light; lunar cycle; moon phase; predator avoidance; reproductive synchronization
Document Type: Research article
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/beheco/ars135
Affiliations: 1: Department of Life Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, CB1 1PT UK and, 2: ,
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4) Rapid Increases and Time-Lagged Declines in Amphibian Occupancy after Wildfire
Conservation Biology
Volume 27, Issue 1, pages 219–228, February 2013
1. BLAKE R. HOSSACK1,2,
2. WINSOR H. LOWE3,
3. PAUL STEPHEN CORN1


Author Information
1. 1U.S. Geological Survey, Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, Missoula, U.S.A.
2. 2Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana, Missoula, U.S.A.
3. 3Division of Biological Sciences, University of Montana, Missoula, U.S.A.

Email: PAUL STEPHEN CORN (blake_hossack@usgs.gov)
Article first published online: 14 SEP 2012
DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01921.x
Abstract
Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and severity of drought and wildfire. Aquatic and moisture-sensitive species, such as amphibians, may be particularly vulnerable to these modified disturbance regimes because large wildfires often occur during extended droughts and thus may compound environmental threats. However, understanding of the effects of wildfires on amphibians in forests with long fire-return intervals is limited. Numerous stand-replacing wildfires have occurred since 1988 in Glacier National Park (Montana, U.S.A.), where we have conducted long-term monitoring of amphibians. We measured responses of 3 amphibian species to fires of different sizes, severity, and age in a small geographic area with uniform management. We used data from wetlands associated with 6 wildfires that burned between 1988 and 2003 to evaluate whether burn extent and severity and interactions between wildfire and wetland isolation affected the distribution of breeding populations. We measured responses with models that accounted for imperfect detection to estimate occupancy during prefire (0–4 years) and different postfire recovery periods. For the long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum) and Columbia spotted frog (Rana luteiventris), occupancy was not affected for 6 years after wildfire. But 7–21 years after wildfire, occupancy for both species decreased ≥25% in areas where >50% of the forest within 500 m of wetlands burned. In contrast, occupancy of the boreal toad (Anaxyrus boreas) tripled in the 3 years after low-elevation forests burned. This increase in occupancy was followed by a gradual decline. Our results show that accounting for magnitude of change and time lags is critical to understanding population dynamics of amphibians after large disturbances. Our results also inform understanding of the potential threat of increases in wildfire frequency or severity to amphibians in the region.
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5) U.S. government sued over endangered sea turtles (Loggerheads on West Coast.)
1/9/2013 By Tom Brown
Jan 8 (Reuters) - Three environmental groups sued the U.S. government on Tuesday for what they said was Washington's failure to take urgent steps to ensure the survival of endangered loggerhead sea turtles.
"Loggerhead sea turtles are among the most imperiled of sea turtle species and have experienced alarming declines in recent years," said the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
The lawsuit said loggerheads were already being pushed to the brink of extinction and that the government had failed to comply with deadlines set under the Endangered Species Act to establish protected areas or "critical habitat" for loggerhead sea turtle populations.
The suit, brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, Oceana Inc and Turtle Island Restoration, cited the destruction or degradation of nesting and foraging habitats, pollution including oil spills, climate change and sea level rise among other threats to the long-term survival of the marine turtles.
"Loggerhead sea turtles face numerous, ongoing threats in waters off the coasts of California and Hawaii, along the continental shelf off the eastern seaboard from Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, south through Florida and the Gulf of Mexico," it said.
Government spokesmen declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The legal complaint said the "incidental capture, injury and death by commercial fishing fleets" posed another clear danger to the loggerheads.
Of the seven species of sea turtles, six are found in U.S. waters. The marine reptiles live mostly in the ocean and often migrate long distances, but adult females return to land to lay their eggs along beaches.
Florida beaches have the largest nesting population of loggerheads in the United States but face increasing threats from coastal development.
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Northern Pacific loggerheads, have seen the most startling population decline in recent years. They nest in Japan, and cross the Pacific to feed along the coasts of Southern California and Mexico, and have declined by at least 80 percent over the past decade.
Defendants named in the lawsuit include the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"The Services are depriving this critically imperiled species of significant legal protections that are important for its conservation and recovery, especially in light of the continuing negative effects of climate change and commercial fishing activities which include the use of harmful longlines, trawls and gillnets," the lawsuit said.
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6) Global Warming Beneficial to Ratsnakes
Jan. 8, 2013 - Science Daily— Speculation about how animals will respond to climate change due to global warming led University of Illinois researcher Patrick Weatherhead and his students to conduct a study of ratsnakes at three different latitudes -- Ontario, Illinois, and Texas. His findings suggest that ratsnakes will be able to adapt to the higher temperatures by becoming more active at night.
"Ratsnakes are a species with a broad geographic range so we could use latitude as a surrogate for climate change," Weatherhead said. "What are ratsnakes in Illinois going to be dealing with given the projections for how much warmer it will be 50 years from now? Well, go to Texas and find out. That's what they're dealing with now. Snakes are ectotherms, that is, they use the environment to regulate their body temperature. We were able to compare ratsnakes' ability to regulate their temperature in Texas as compared to Illinois and Canada."
The research showed that ratsnakes in Canada, Illinois, and Texas would all benefit from global warming. "It would actually make the environment thermally better for them," Weatherhead said. "Texas is already too hot for much of the day so it may cause them to shift to even more nocturnal foraging there and stay active at night for more of the season."
As the higher temperatures associated with global warming begin to be more challenging for snakes in Illinois, will they be able to switch to nocturnal foraging? "We think that won't be a problem for them," Weatherhead said. "We already know that Illinois snakes show some limited amount of nocturnal activity because there is anecdotal evidence for nocturnal nest predation by snakes."
Weatherhead said that as temperatures increase there are a lot of potential scenarios of what might happen in the ecosystem.
"If we start with the premise that with a thermal increase snakes will do better, the snake population may increase, but snakes are also facing diminished habitat and have a high road mortality. They are not a universally well-loved group of animals. People are known to purposely swerve in the road to kill them. So, just because temperatures may become more beneficial for snakes it doesn't necessarily mean we'll have a plague of snakes. We may, however, have northern expansion of ranges," he said.
Weatherhead inserted tiny transmitters that emit radio pulses into ratsnakes to track their location and behavior. In order to save battery life through the winter months while the snake was hibernating, the transmitters were designed to slow its pulse rate (not the pulse rate of the snake) as the temperature dropped. "The relationship between the change in temperature and how it affects the transistor's pulse rate is pretty precise. We learned that we could predict the temperature of the snake from the pulse rate of the transmitter," he said.
Weatherhead's team also created snake models using a piece of copper pipe filled with water and painted black with a transmitter inside it. They placed the simulated snakes in various microhabitats--under a log, up in a tree, and on bare ground. This provided representative samples of all of the places that are available to a real snake while exposed to a range of weather conditions.
"We got the weather data from standard weather stations, then developed predictive equations from the weather conditions and the model snake's body temperature under each condition," Weatherhead said. "After you've sampled the environment once, then it's just the physical relationship between those environmental factors and the inanimate snake model which very closely mimics a real snake in those same circumstances.You plug the weather data into these equations and you can tell what temperature a snake in each of those environments would be at any time," he said.
Weatherhead said that although temperature-sensitive transmitters have been available for some time, automated receivers vastly increased data collection. The research approach used now combines automated temperature recording with automated recording of snakes' locations.
Weatherhead said the environmental domino effect could mean a reduction in some native bird populations because the snakes he studies are important predators of birds' nests. During the night, in addition to eggs and young birds in nests, adult females may also get caught unawares.
"Females are often on the nest incubating eggs or brooding the young at night," Weatherhead said. "If they are doing that during the day and a snake approaches, they rarely get caught by the snake, but at night they are much more vulnerable because snakes are very stealthy and the incubating birds don't detect the snake approaching. This is good for the snake because it gets a bigger meal.
"The environmental repercussions could be significant if you start eliminating adult females from a population, particularly an endangered species," he said. "The loss of females for native birds will have a big demographic effect on bird populations."
Weatherhead is currently conducting another study in South Carolina comparing a species of snake that appears to only forage during the day with one that can switch to nocturnal foraging to understand more about the relationship between prey, predators and climate.
"We're looking at the whole community of nesting birds that the snakes prey on," he said. "We have cameras aimed at hundreds of nests to determine who the predators are, when the predation happens, and what the fate of the nest is both for the nest contents and the parent birds."
Weatherhead explained that snakes can find nests in the dark because they don't rely on vision alone to find birds' nests.
"Snakes have a really good sense of smell," he said. "We've done lab experiments in which we give snakes three choices under darker conditions. They can choose to go into a tube that leads to a dead mouse, a simulated live mouse, or both. They do better when they get both under light and dark conditions, so it looks as if they are fairly flexible regarding which sensory mechanism that they are using to find prey."
The primary predators of ratsnakes are hawks and small carnivores. "When the snake tries to get to a nest during the day, the adult bird makes a commotion and attracts hawks or other snake predators," Weatherhead said. "A snake is a bigger meal to a hawk than a few eggs."If a warmer climate causes snakes to be more active at night, they may be less vulnerable to animals that hunt them, so the mink, hawk, and raccoon populations could also be adversely affected. "Predicting the ecological consequences of climate change for wildlife requires going beyond the study of single species," he said.
Partial funding was provided by the United States Army and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Story Source:
The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. The original article was written by Debra Levey Larson.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:
1. Patrick J. Weatherhead, Jinelle H. Sperry, Gerardo L.F. Carfagno, Gabriel Blouin-Demers. Latitudinal variation in thermal ecology of North American ratsnakes and its implications for the effect of climate warming on snakes. Journal of Thermal Biology, 2012; 37 (4): 273 DOI: 10.1016/j.jtherbio.2011.03.008
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7) China launches traditional medicine resource center

English.news.cn 2012-12-18 20:56:36

BEIJING, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- The China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences on Tuesday established a research center for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) resources.
Research results are expected to help government and TCM industry have better understanding of the distribution, production, environmental issues and overexploitation of materials for TCM, which will benefit the protection and sustainable utilization of the medicinal resources.
Wang Guoqiang, vice health minister and director of the State Administration of TCM, said TCM resources have become increasingly scarce due to profit-driven overexploitation, which has wasted and damaged rare medical resources.
He identified a lack of overall planning in exploitation and protection, which should be based on scientific research and survey, as an outstanding problem for the development of TCM.
China last year conducted a nationwide survey of TCM resources, which covered the distribution, production, and natural environment for TCM materials.
Wang said the new center will carefully analyze the survey results to come up with advices to the industry's policy makers.
TCM originated in ancient China and has evolved more than 2,000 years. Practitioners use herbs, acupuncture, massage and other methods to treat a wide range of illnesses. Medicinal plant elements and extracts are largely used. But in some cases animal parts and minerals are also adopted.
__________________________________________________________________
8) Genetic Matchmaking Saves Endangered Frogs
Jan. 8, 2013 — What if Noah got it wrong? What if he paired a male and a female animal thinking they were the same species, and then discovered they were not the same and could not produce offspring? As researchers from the Smithsonian's Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project race to save frogs from a devastating disease by breeding them in captivity, a genetic test averts mating mix-ups.
At the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center, project scientists breed 11 different species of highland frogs threatened by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which has already decimated amphibian populations worldwide. They hope that someday they will be able to re-release frogs into Panama's highland streams.
Different frog species may look very similar. "If we accidentally choose frogs to breed that are not the same species, we may be unsuccessful or unknowingly create hybrid animals that are maladapted to their parents' native environment," said Andrew J. Crawford, research associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and professor at Colombia's Universidad de los Andes. Crawford and his colleagues make use of a genetic technique called DNA barcoding to tell amphibian species apart. By comparing gene sequences in a frog's skin cells sampled with a cotton swab, they discover how closely the frogs are related.
New knowledge about frog genetics contributes to saving amphibians from extinction, the mission of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project. Participating institutions include Africam Safari, Panama's Autoridad Nacional del Ambiente, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Defenders of Wildlife, El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center, Houston Zoo, Smithsonian's National Zoological Park, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Zoo New England.
Journal Reference:
1. Andrew J. Crawford, Catalina Cruz, Edgardo Griffith, Heidi Ross, Roberto Ibáñez, Karen R. Lips, Amy C. Driskell, Eldredge Bermingham, Paul Crump. DNA barcoding applied toex situtropical amphibian conservation programme reveals cryptic diversity in captive populations. Molecular Ecology Resources, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/1755-0998.12054
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9) Sea Turtles breathe new life (Sri Lanka)
Sunday Observer, Sri Lanka, 1/6/13, by W.T.J.S. Kaviratne -Ambalangoda Special Correspondent
There are over 20 turtle conservation centres in Sri Lanka at present. The majority of these “ex-situ” conservation centres are along the coastal stretch of Kosgoda, Induruwa, Seenigama and Habaraduwa on the Southern Coast.
The island’s first turtle hatchery was set up at Kosgoda in 1978 with financial assistance of a German national, Victor Hasselblad, the owner of the company which made the world-famous Hasselblad cameras.
Dr. Upen de Silva, the late Dr. Wickremesinghe and Similias de Abrew were the other partners of this turtle conservation project. After the demise of the founder Similias Abrew who lived in Kosgoda, his son Chandrasiri Abrew undertook the management of the Kosgoda Turtle Conservation Centre. Over four million turtle hatchlings born at the Kosgoda Turtle Conservation Centre had been released so far to the nearby sea, Chandrasiri Abrew said.
According to scientific research, it is estimated that there are eight species of sea turtles in the world. Five of these species are in the habit of frequenting the beach stretches of the South Coast of Sri Lanka.
Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta), Olive Ridley Turtle (Lapidochleys olivacea), Hawskbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) and Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) visit the Southern, Western and South-Western coastline of Sri Lanka for nesting.
Unlike in the past, the fisherfolk on the South Coast now extend their cooperation for the conservation of turtles and have given up killing turtles for their flesh, Abrew said. The hatchery owners buy the eggs of turtles from the fisherfolk who collect the eggs from the nests at night.
Coral mining and illegal methods of fishing with the use of explosives have already destroyed the foraging grounds of turtles such as coral reefs and sea-grass beds in the ocean.
A turtle has a lifespan of nearly 80 years and a female turtle lays around 80 to 120 eggs in each nest dug into sand in the natural habitats. They lay eggs five times during a season.
The eggs are hatched within 45 - 60 days and after two or three days, the hatchlings come out of the nest and make their way straight to the sea. The hatchlings are known to swim non-stop for two days in a phenomenon known as “juvenile frenzy”.
Juvenile frenzy
Hatchlings do not need anything to feed during this juvenile frenzy as the strength is stored in their bodies. The hatchery owners bury the eggs in hand-dug chambers.
Even though keeping new-born turtle hatchlings in concrete tanks filled with sea water is a controversial environmental issue, contrary to natural conservation known as “in–situ” conservation, the turtle hatchery owners say they keep a very few of the new-borns in their tanks and 80 percent are safely released to the sea within 24 hours, during the dark hours of the evenings. The remaining 20 percent are released after two days.
According to the owners of turtle conservation centres, human activities such as the construction of tourist hotels in close proximity to the beach, removal of foliage in the beach, erecting powerful electric lamp posts on the beach, construction of boulders and beach erosion are some of the factors causing the fast dwindling of turtles.
Many of these turtle conservation centres have become rehabilitation centres as well for the physically handicapped turtles caught on beach stretches. There are blind and injured turtles in these conservation centres undergoing treatment. Some turtles have lost their limbs as a result of being run over by motor boats.
Hatchery owners said they retain albino turtles for nearly five years in the tanks and release them to the sea.
Maintaining a turtle hatchery is very expensive, they said. Nearly Rs. 500,000 needs to be spent to look after a turtle for five years. A large amount of money has to be spent on the construction and repair of tanks, pumping sea water, cleaning and purchasing fish for feeding. They said they depend entirely on the entrance fees charged from tourists and during the off-seasons they find it extremely difficult to maintain the turtle conservation centres.
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10) Emerging Consensus Shows Climate Change Already Having Major Effects on Ecosystems and Species
12/18/2012 U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
In partnership with: National Wildlife Federation, Arizona State University

Plant and animal species are shifting their geographic ranges and the timing of their life events – such as flowering, laying eggs or migrating – at faster rates than researchers documented just a few years ago, according to a technical report on biodiversity and ecosystems used as scientific input for the 2013 Third National Climate Assessment.
The report, Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity, Ecosystems, and Ecosystem Services, synthesizes the scientific understanding of the way climate change is affecting ecosystems, ecosystem services and the diversity of species, as well as what strategies might be used by natural resource practitioners to decrease current and future risks. More than 60 federal, academic and other scientists, including the lead authors from the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Wildlife Federation and Arizona State University in Tempe, authored the assessment.
"These geographic range and timing changes are causing cascading effects that extend through ecosystems, bringing together species that haven't previously interacted and creating mismatches between animals and their food sources," said Nancy Grimm, a scientist at ASU and a lead author of the report.
Grimm explained that such mismatches in the availability and timing of natural resources can influence species' survival; for example, if insects emerge well before the arrival of migrating birds that rely on them for food, it can adversely affect bird populations. Earlier thaw and shorter winters can extend growing seasons for insect pests such as bark beetles, having devastating consequences for the way ecosystems are structured and function. This can substantially alter the benefits people derive from ecosystems, such as clean water, wood products and food.
"The impact of climate change on ecosystems has important implications for people and communities," said Amanda Staudt, a NWF climate scientist and a lead author on the report. "Shifting climate conditions are affecting valuable ecosystem services, such as the role that coastal habitats play in dampening storm surge or the ability of our forests to provide timber and help filter our drinking water."
Another key finding is the mounting evidence that population declines and increased extinction risks for some plant and animal species can be directly attributed to climate change. The most vulnerable species are those already degraded by other human-caused stressors such as pollution or exploitation, unable to shift their geographic range or timing of key life events, or that have narrow environmental or ecological tolerance. For example, species that must live at high altitudes or live in cold water with a narrow temperature range, such as salmon, face an even greater risk due to climate change.
"The report clearly indicates that as climate change continues to impact ecological systems, a net loss of global species’ diversity, as well as major shifts in the provision of ecosystem services, are quite likely," said Michelle Staudinger, a lead author of the report and a USGS and University of Missouri scientist.
For example, she added, climate change is already causing shifts in the abundance and geographic range of economically important marine fish. "These changes will almost certainly continue, resulting in some local fisheries declining or disappearing while others may grow and become more valuable if fishing communities can find socially and economically viable ways to adapt to these changes."
Natural resource managers are already contending with what climate change means for the way they approach conservation. For example, the report stated, land managers are now more focused on the connectivity of protected habitats, which can improve a species’ ability to shift its geographic range to follow optimal conditions for survival.
"The conservation community is grappling with how we manage our natural resources in the face of climate change, so that we can help our ecosystems to continue meeting the needs of both people and wildlife," said Bruce Stein, a lead author of the report and director of climate adaptation at the National Wildlife Federation.
Other key findings of the report include:
• Changes in precipitation and extreme weather events can overwhelm the ability of natural systems to reduce or prevent harm to people from these events. For example, more frequent heavy rainfall events increase the movement of nutrients and pollutants to downstream ecosystems, likely resulting not only in ecosystem change, but also in adverse changes in the quality of drinking water and a greater risk of waterborne-disease outbreaks.
• Changes in winter have big and surprising effects on ecosystems and their services. Changes in soil freezing, snow cover and air temperature affect the ability of ecosystems to store carbon, which, in turn, influences agricultural and forest production. Seasonally snow-covered regions are especially susceptible to climate change because small precipitation or temperature shifts can cause large ecosystem changes. Longer growing seasons and warmer winters are already increasing the likelihood of pest outbreaks, leading to tree mortality and more intense, extensive fires. Decreased or unreliable snowfall for winter sports and recreation will likely cause high future economic losses.
• The ecosystem services provided by coastal habitats are especially vulnerable to sea-level rise and more severe storms. The Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts are most vulnerable to the loss of coastal protection services provided by wetlands and coral reefs. Along the Pacific coast, long-term dune erosion caused by increasing wave heights is projected to cause problems for communities and for recreational beach activities. However, other kinds of recreation will probably improve due to better weather, with the net effect being that visitors and tourism dollars will shift away from some communities in favor of others.
• Climate change adaptation strategies are vital for the conservation of diverse species and effective natural resource policy and management. As more adaptive management approaches are developed, resource managers can enhance the country’s ability to respond to the impacts of climate change through forward-looking and climate science-informed goals and actions.
• Ecological monitoring needs to be improved and better coordinated among federal and state agencies to ensure the impacts of climate change are adequately monitored and to support ecological research, management, assessment and policy. Existing tracking networks in the United States will need to improve coverage through time and in geographic area to detect and track climate-induced shifts in ecosystems and species.
Background:
Federal law requires that the U.S. Global Change Research Program submit an assessment of climate change and its impacts to the President and the Congress once every four years. Technical reports, articles and books – such as this report -- underpin the corresponding chapters of the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment, due out in 2013. This technical report is available at the USGCRP website, as are other completed technical reports. Additional lead authors of this report include Shawn Carter, USGS: F. Stuart Chapin III, University of Alaska, Fairbanks; Peter Kareiva, The Nature Conservancy; and Mary Ruckelshaus, Natural Capital Project.
Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communications and Publishing
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr, MS 119
Reston, VA 20192
Catherine Puckett, USGS
Phone: 352-377-2469

Aileo Weinmann, NWF
Phone: 202-797-6801

Sandra Leander, ASU
Phone: 480-965-9865
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Top 3 books have been heavily discounted.
Firefly Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians, 2nd Edition, General Editor Chris Mattison, 240 glossy pages, Oversize Book Once $50.00 - Now $30.00 Plus $12.00 S&H
The Lizard King, by Bryan Christy, 256 Pages, Hardcover-List Price $25.00 Sale $12.00 per book. $6.00 for S&H. (Only 2 copies left)

Albino pythons, endangered lizards and other reptiles are the currency of an underworld as dangerous and lucrative as the drug trade. Freelance writer Christy's debut is an enthusiastic chronicle of the rise and fall of a lizard kingpin and the federal agent who pursued him. Mike Van Nostrand inherited Strictly Reptiles, an import-export business in Florida, from his father, Ray, turning it into a multimillion-dollar smuggling operation. Van Nostrand imported reptiles of all shapes and sizes, usually concealed in the suitcases or clothing of his mules, and sold them to collectors and pet stores. He exploited loopholes in the international treaty on endangered-species trade and paid off corrupt officials._____________
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Invasive Pythons in the United States- Ecology of an Introduced Predator
Michael E. Dorcas and John D. Willson, Foreword by Whit Gibbons
The first detailed, comprehensive study of this invasive predator
Page count: 176, 188 color photos, 8 maps, 1 table, 7 figures
Paperback, c2011, (Only 5 copies left)
Was $25.00 Now Just $15.00 plus add $6.00 for shipping and handling.
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Turtles of the United States and Canada by Carl H. Ernst and Jeffrey E. Lovich
List Price: $98.00, (Hardcover) 840 pages
The Johns Hopkins University Press; Second edition

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Reviews
[A] monumental work... the standard reference to North American turtles for the next generation of biologists. Every serious vertebrate biologist on the continent will want a copy. (Herpetological Review )
The most comprehensive compilation on North American turtles ever attempted and achieved.(Herpetofauna )
In 1972, C. H. Ernst completed the daunting task of compiling a sequel to A. F. Carr's (1952) landmark Handbook of Turtles. Two decades later, Ernst, this time with assistance from former student and fellow cheloniophile J. E. Lovich, has done it again. (Copeia )
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Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico volumes 1 and 2 -$75.00 each book, $13.00 S&H for both books, $6.00 S&H for only one book.

Last year, in Volume one the Ernsts covered Heloderma, Micruroides, Micrurus, Pelamis, Agkistrodon, Sistrurus
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"Likely to remain the standard reference for the next 20
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America

NOW COMES PART II

Carl and Evelyn Ernst have completely revised their landmark reference Venomous Reptiles of North America to present the most comprehensive review of these animals in years. A review that now needs two volumes to complete. ;Volume One of this definitive work presented dramatically improved species accounts of the venomous lizards and elapid and viperid snakes found north of Mexico's twenty-fifth parallel.

In Volume Two they cover the twenty-one rattlesnakes found in the United States, Canada, and, for the first time, species found only in northern Mexico.

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These volumes contain a wealth of information for anyone with an interest in venom, snakes, or herpetology in general.

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico Volume I & II, provides facts on each animal's diet, reproductive behavior, physiology, ecology, and conservation status. The book also covers details on snakebite, how venom is delivered, venom composition, antivenom production, and medical treatments of envenomation. Each species account includes vivid photographs that aid with identification and detailed maps that show the species range.

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Re: Herp- Digest Newsletter

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Volume # 13 Issue # 4 1/27/13
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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(Editor- Due to the Upcoming 33rd Annual Symposium on Sea Turtle Biology and Conservation (Which Includes 3 days of Talks on Fresh Water Turtles in Baltimore, there will be no Newsletters from HerpDigest for the next two weeks or daily news alerts. I’m going and speaking.)
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“The Most Comprehensive Turtle Book.”
TURTLES, TORTOISES AND TERRAPINS- A Natural History -Revised, Expanded and Updated by Ronald Orenstein, 448 pages, that’s 150 more than the first edition, 9" X 11",more than 300 full color photographs, range maps, bibliography, index
AND YES EVEN IF YOU HAVE COPIES OF THE FIRST EDITION YOU SHOULD GET THE 2ND EDITION, IT’S A WHOLE NEW BOOK.
$59.95 USD plus $12.00 for S&H in US, overseas please contact us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org
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HEALTH CARE AND REHABILITATION OF TURTLES AND TORTOISES
An excellent, must have for every turtle owner and every turtle & wildlife rehabilitator
Covers everything from general information such as: turtle anatomy, diet, stress, hibernation, brumation, outdoor and indoor enclosures and more --- to over 250 pages on shell fractures, tube feeding, bacterial and viral diseases, parasites, diagnostics, antibiotics in chelonians, and with supporting photographs. The author took great time and care to translate her and others experiences in turtle rehabilitation without the jargon, so all turtle owners enthusiasts can understand.
Full-color photographs. (2012) 393 pp. Softcover, by Amanda Ebenhack $39.85 plus $6.00 S&H see below on how to order (Overseas email us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org or S&H price)

Coming Soon "Frogs of the United states & Canada, by Ken Dodd, Vol 1 & 2
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1) Crocodile Search Continues for 7,500 Escaped Reptiles-Slide Show
2) Relations between Conspecific Density and Effects of Ultraviolet-B Radiation on Tadpole Size in the Striped Marsh Frog
3) New Map Shows Turtle Nest Spots Cut off by Conflict, at Risk as Globe Warms
4) A Request to Private Amphibian Owners/Breeders to Help Amphibian Conservation By Just Answering a Survey (SEND COMPLETED SURVEY TO robert.browne@gmail.com)
5) The First Solar-Powered Vertebrate (Spotted Salamanders)
6) U.S.F.&W.S Announces Availability of Draft Economic Analysis for Four Central Texas Salamanders
7) Salamanders' Tunnel to Cotati Breeding Grounds a Success (California Tiger Salamander)
8) What Killed the Sea Turtles? (Costa Rica)
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“THE TORTOISE” The Turtle Conservancy’s -For Members Only-New Periodical Publication (But it’s not just about Tortoises).
HerpDigest has Gained Access to a Limited Number of the Very First issue of the Turtle Conservancy’s New Periodical Publication “The Tortoise.” Recently available only to members. And they are going fast.
According to the Turtle Conservancy, by publishing “The Tortoise” on a yearly basis, it will keep it relevant by containing more in-depth information on the latest work being done to save turtles and tortoises all over the world than any other publication.
Issue # 1, is an excellent example of this, with it’s 160 pages, 100 color photos and 14 reports and stories on the work done and that needs to be done, on a number of threatened and critically endangered species from around the globe:
Ranging from the highlands of Southeast Asia, home to two primitive tortoises of the genus Manouria, to the restricted range of the Geometric Tortoise (Psammobates geometricus) in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, to the West Coast of the US home of the Pacific Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata), to the cryptic wood turtles (Rhinoclemmys sp.) of Mexico, and almost everywhere in between.
The first issue is only $20.00 plus $6.00 for S&H. As all always contact us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org for overseas shipping costs.
AS ALWAYS INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO ORDER BOTTOM OF HERPDIGEST ISSUE.
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1) Crocodile Search Continues for 7,500 Escaped Reptiles-Slide Show
The crocodiles sprung from the Rakwena Crocodile Farm in the far north of South Africa when owners were forced to open the gates to prevent a storm surge after the nearby Limpopo river rose- Picture: Mike Hutchings/REUTERS

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... tiles.html
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2) Relations between Conspecific Density and Effects of Ultraviolet-B Radiation on Tadpole Size in the Striped Marsh Frog
Conservation Biology
Volume 26, Issue 6, pages 1112–1120, December 2012
1. Toby Mitchell,
2. Lesley A. Alton,
3. Craig R. White,
4. Craig E. Franklin
Article first published online: 26 JUL 2012
1. School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Email: Craig E. Franklin (c.franklin@uq.edu.au)
DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01906.x
Global increases in ultraviolet-B radiation (UVBR) associated with stratospheric ozone depletion are potentially contributing to the decline of numerous amphibian species around the world. Exposure to UVBR alone reduces survival and induces a range of sublethal effects in embryonic and larval amphibians. When additional environmental stressors are present, UVBR can have compounding negative effects. Thus, examination of the effects of UVBR in the absence of other stressors may substantially underestimate its potential to affect amphibians in natural habitats. We examined the independent and interactive effects of increased UVBR and high conspecific density would have embryonic and larval striped marsh frogs (Limnodynastes peronii). We exposed individuals to a factorial combination of low and high UVBR levels and low, medium, and high densities of striped marsh frog tadpoles. The response variables were time to hatching, hatching success, posthatch survival, burst-swimming performance of tadpoles (maximum instantaneous swim speed following an escape response), and size and morphology of tadpoles. Consistent with results of previous studies, we found that exposure to UVBR alone increased the time to hatching of embryos and reduced the burst-swimming performance and size of tadpoles. Similarly, increasing conspecific density increased the time to hatching of embryos and reduced the size of tadpoles, but had no effect on burst-swimming performance. The negative effect of UVBR on tadpole size was not apparent at high densities of tadpoles. This result suggests that tadpoles living at higher densities may invest relatively less energy in growth and thus have more energy to repair UVBR-induced damage. Lower densities of conspecifics increased the negative effects of UVBR on developing amphibians. Thus, low-density populations, which may include declining populations, may be particularly susceptible to the detrimental effects of increased UVBR and thus may be driven toward extinction faster than might be expected on the basis of results from single-factor studies.
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3) New Map Shows Turtle Nest Spots Cut off by Conflict, at Risk as Globe Warms
January 25, 2013 by Sunanda Creagh
An accurate list of potential sea turtle nesting sites could help researchers track the creatures' response to global warming, experts said. Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ballena
A new map of potential sea turtle nesting spots, including remote locations cut off by conflict, will help researchers track how the reptiles respond to climate change, turtle experts said today.
Sea turtles, already endangered by fishing and coastal development, are also threatened by climate change because they need very specific conditions for reproduction.
Even slight changes in heat and moisture can prevent their soft-shelled eggs from hatching.
As global warming makes some popular nesting spots too hot or dry for many sea turtles, researchers say it is crucial to develop an accurate picture of where conditions are right for turtles to safely lay eggs.
A list of potential nesting spots could act as a starting point for research into how habitats change as the globe warms.
"The problem with a lot of the nesting sites is that there are conflicts there or they are in very remote places like northern Australia. There are nesting sites in Eastern Africa and places like Somalia, but there is a lot of conflict there and it's hard for researchers to get in," said Dr David Pike, a turtle expert from James Cook University.
To address the problem, Dr Pike used computer modelling to pinpoint places in the world where climate conditions are right for sea turtles to lay their eggs.
As the climate warms, other places currently too cold for nests will warm up, said Dr Pike.
"It's not yet clear but it looks overall that things will balance out as long as we are doing lots of other conservation, like keeping sea turtles out of prawn trawlers, keeping poaching down," he said.
"Protecting sea turtles under climate change is really going to require an integrated approach, to remove some of the other threats they are facing."
The map of potential nesting spots also highlights sites that have previously gone unstudied but may well be worth a field visit, he said.
"So in places like the coast of northern Australia, we can target areas where we think sea turtles might nest in good numbers and go out and survey those areas to provide a baseline for future study," said Dr Pike.
Kylie Williams, a PhD student studying turtles at the School of Environmental Science at Charles Sturt University welcomed the new map.
"Demographic modelling has already made us acutely aware of the need to protect all the life history stages of turtles – from egg to mature adult," said Ms Williams, who was not involved in the modelling.
"By modelling the location of nest sites, Dr Pike's research provides vital information on the ecological geography of sea turtles. It also allows us to begin to gauge just how severely species may be affected by climate change in the future."
Source: The Conversation
This story is published courtesy of the The Conversation (under Creative Commons-Attribution/No derivatives).
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4) A Request to Private Amphibian Owners/Breeders to Help Amphibian Conservation By Just Answering a Survey (SEND COMPLETED SURVEY TO robert.browne@gmail.com)
From - Dr Robert Browne -CEO Corporate Comfort Ltd.
Director - Amphibian and Reptile Journal. -Research - Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp, Belgium. -robert.browne@gmail.com

Dear Respondent,

We are reviewing the role of private owners in amphibian conservation and would like you to help by completing this survey.

The increasing number of threatened species, and the inability of institutions to care for all these species, makes the role of private breeders/owners in amphibian conservation an increasingly important issue.

To collect this information we need as many amphibian lovers, keepers, and conservationists as possible to complete this survey.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TZDTN6P

The survey questions are simple and direct and the survey will only take about 10 minutes.

Our Open Access article with the survey information should be published within six months."


We have an article in Froglog 104 on our pioneering program on the use of reproduction technologies for the hellbender http://www.amphibians.org/froglog/fl104/. This achievement made Scientific America. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/run ... irst-time/

Best, Robert

-
Dr Robert Browne
CEO Corporate Comfort Ltd.
Director - Amphibian and Reptile Journal.
Research - Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp, Belgium.
robert.browne@gmail.com

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5) The First Solar-Powered Vertebrate (Spotted Salamanders)
1/18/13 by Michael Marshall (New Scientist)
Zoologger is our weekly column highlighting extraordinary animals – and occasionally other organisms – from around the world
Species: Ambystoma maculatum
Habitat: Throughout the eastern USA and parts of southern Canada, leaving other salamanders green with envy
When you think about it, animals are weird. They ignore the abundant source of energy above their heads – the sun – and choose instead to invest vast amounts of energy in cumbersome equipment for eating and digesting food. Why don't they do what plants do, and get their energy straight from sunlight?
The short answer is that many do. Corals are animals but have algae living in them that use sunlight to make sugar. Many other animals, from sponges to sea slugs, pull the same trick. One species of hornet can convert sunlight into electricity. There are also suggestions that aphids can harness sunlight, although most biologists are unconvinced.
But all these creatures are only distantly related to us. No backboned animal has been found that can harness the sun – until now. It has long been suspected, and now there is hard evidence: the spotted salamander is solar-powered.
Plants make food using photosynthesis, absorbing light to power a chemical reaction that converts carbon dioxide and water into glucose and releases oxygen. Corals profit from this reaction by housing photosynthetic algae inside their shells.
Spotted salamanders, too, are in a long-term relationship with photosynthetic algae. In 1888, biologist Henry Orr reported that their eggs often contain single-celled green algae called Oophila amblystomatis. The salamanders lay the eggs in pools of water, and the algae colonise them within hours.
By the 1940s, biologists strongly suspected it was a symbiotic relationship, beneficial to both the salamander embryos and the algae. The embryos release waste material, which the algae feed on. In turn the algae photosynthesise and release oxygen, which the embryos take in. Embryos that have more algae are more likely to survive and develop faster than embryos with few or none.
Then in 2011 the story gained an additional twist. A close examination of the eggs revealed that some of the algae were living within the embryos themselves, and in some cases were actually inside embryonic cells. That suggested the embryos weren't just taking oxygen from the algae: they might be taking glucose too. In other words, the algae were acting as internal power stations, generating fuel for the salamanders.
To find out if that was happening, Erin Graham of Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and colleagues incubated salamander eggs in water containing radioactive carbon-14. Algae take up the isotope in the form of carbon dioxide, producing radioactive glucose.
Graham found that the embryos became mildly radioactive – unless kept in the dark. That showed that the embryos could only take in the carbon-14 via photosynthesis in the algae.
The algae do not seem to be essential to the embryos, but they are very helpful: embryos deprived of algae struggle. "Their survival rate is much lower and their growth is slowed," says Graham.
It's less clear how well the algae get on without the embryos. In the lab, they transform into dormant cysts. The salamander eggs are only around in spring, suggesting that in the wild, the algae spend the rest of the year as cysts. The ponds they live in dry up in summer, so the algae may sit out the rest of the year in the sediment.
Now that one vertebrate has been shown to use photosynthesis, Graham says there could well be others. "Anything that lays eggs in water would be a good candidate," she says, as algae would have easy access to the eggs. So other amphibians, and fish, could be doing it. It's much less likely that a mammal or bird could photosynthesise, as their developing young are sealed off from the outside world.
Journal reference: Journal of Experimental Biology, doi.org/j8q
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6) U. S. F. & W. S Announces Availability of Draft Economic Analysis for Four Central Texas Salamanders

Press Release 1/25/13--The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announced today the Notice of Availability of the draft economic analysis (DEA) for the proposed critical habitat for the Austin blind salamander, Jollyville Plateau salamander, Georgetown salamander, and the Salado salamander. The DEA provides estimated costs of the foreseeable potential economic impacts of the proposed critical habitat designation for the four central Texas salamanders over the next 23 years. The Service is also announcing the reopening of the comment period on the proposed critical habitat for four central Texas salamanders for 45 days.

On August 22, 2012, the Service proposed to list the four central Texas salamanders as endangered and to designate 5,983 acres (2,440 hectares) of critical habitat in 52 units in Bell, Travis and Williamson counties. Based upon information received during the first 60-day comment period, the Service is proposing to revise the proposed critical habitat units and acreage. In addition, the revised proposal includes an amended required determinations section, an amended exclusions section and the availability of a refined impervious cover analysis.

The current proposal revises the proposed critical habitat for both the Georgetown salamander and the Jollyville salamander. The revised rule includes an additional 474 acres (192 hectares) of proposed critical habitat for the Jollyville salamander; however, the numbers of critical habitat units for the Jollyville salamander are reduced from 33 to 30. Critical habitat revisions for the Georgetown salamander include adjustments to the critical habitat boundaries which does not change the overall proposed acreage. In total, this rule proposes to designate 6,457 acres (2,613 hectares) of critical habitat in 49 units.

Critical habitat is a term in the Endangered Species Act that identifies geographic areas containing features essential for the conservation of a threatened or endangered species, and which may require special management considerations or protection. Designation of critical habitat does not affect land ownership, establish a refuge or preserve and has no impact on private landowners taking actions on their land that do not require federal funding or permits.

When specifying an area as critical habitat, the Endangered Species Act requires the Service to consider economic and other relevant impacts of the designation. If the benefits of excluding an
area outweigh the benefits of designating it, the Secretary may exclude an area from critical habitat, unless that would jeopardize the existence of a threatened or endangered species.

The draft economic analysis quantifies economic impacts of the four central Texas salamanders conservation efforts associated with the following categories of activity: development, water management activities, transportation projects, utility projects, mining and livestock grazing. The draft economic analysis estimated impacts for development, transportation, mining and species and habitat management activities. No impacts are forecasted for water management activities, utility projects and livestock grazing activities. Total present value impacts anticipated to result from the critical habitat designation of all units for the four central Texas salamanders are approximately $29 million over 23 years. All incremental costs are administrative in nature and result from the consideration of adverse modification in section 7 consultations and re-initiation of consultations for existing management plans.

In releasing the draft economic analysis, the Service is also reopening the public comment period on the proposed listing of the four central Texas salamanders and the revised critical habitat proposal. The Service will accept public comments received or postmarked on or before March 11, 2013. For more information on this proposal, what to comment on, or how to submit comments, see the Federal Register notice on our web site at http://www.fws.gov/southwest.

For further information contact Adam Zerrenner, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Austin Ecological Services Field Office, 10711 Burnet Road, Suite 200, Austin, Texas 78758; by telephone at 512-490-0057 x248; or by facsimile at 512-490-0974. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.
America’s fish, wildlife and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. We’re working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Endangered Species program, go to http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Public Affairs Office
PO Box 1306
Albuquerque, NM 87103
505/248-6911
505/248-6915 (Fax)
Contacts: Adam Zerrenner, (512) 490-0057
Lesli Gray, (972) 569-8588
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7) Salamanders' Tunnel to Cotati Breeding Grounds a Success (California Tiger Salamander)
By Bob Norberg, The Press Democrat, 1/15/13

It seemed like an odd idea at the time, building tunnels under a busy road to help California tiger salamanders travel safely from their hillside homes to a nearby pond where the endangered species can breed.
The plan, however, appears to have worked, according to biologists who are studying the tunnels, built two years ago under Stony Point Road near Cotati.
"I haven't analyzed all the data. Everything is preliminary, but just a broad general conclusion is these crossing tunnels are working. They are functional, and salamanders are using them," said Tracy Bain, a graduate student at Sonoma State University.
The San Francisco resident is writing her thesis on the effectiveness of the tunnels for a masters degree in conservation biology.
"There are lots of things that fragment habitat of migrating animals," Bain said. "For these salamanders, who go from their upland habitat, where they are year-around, to the pond, the road is the problem."
The tunnels were constructed two years ago by Sonoma County, using a $150,000 grant from a Caltrans fund to offset environmental effects of roadwork.
It was an idea proposed four years ago by David Cook, a senior environmental specialist for the Sonoma County Water Agency who studies amphibians, such as frogs and salamanders.
California tiger salamanders are 8-inch amphibians with bright spots that live in gopher holes but come out during the first evening rains of winter, migrating as far as a half-mile to breed in ponds.
One such breeding area is near Cotati, where the tiger salamanders live in the uphill grasslands on one side of Stony Point Road. The breeding ponds, where they lay their eggs, is on the other side of the road.
"I was doing wildlife studies for a Water Agency proposed pipeline in the area and I found this major migration route that crosses Stony Point and a frequent mortality," Cook said.
The salamanders were listed as an endangered species in Sonoma County in 2003 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, becoming a lightning rod for criticism by developers and growth advocates, who complain the amphibians' protected status holds up projects.
Cook said, however, it is no different than protecting salmon, also on the endangered species list, and tunnels are no different than fish ladders.
Before the tunnels were built, the half-mile stretch of Stony Point Road was a "blood bath" as the salamanders were crushed by cars as they tried to cross the road, Cook said.
He said there could be several hundred salamanders that live in the area, although the number is difficult to estimate because they live underground.
"It is the only known breeding pond in the area. Salamanders living on the other side of the road have to cross to reproduce, and if they don't, the population will start to decline," Cook said.
The 10-inch steel pipes are about 35 feet long, with foot-high plastic fencing that acts as funnels to guide the salamanders in.
On recent rainy nights, Bain and some helpers have gathered at the road, picking up salamanders and putting them near the entrances of the pipes.
Sometimes it takes more than one attempt, but many of the 100 salamanders they found did make their way through the tunnels and back.
Even after they left, infrared cameras recorded salamanders using the tunnels without any help from the researchers.
"It doesn't mean the tunnels will save the species from extinction statewide, but in this area, it turned out to be a good idea," Cook said.
(You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or bob.norberg@pressdemocrat.com.)
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8) What Killed the Sea Turtles? (Costa Rica)
January 25, 2013 - By Lindsay Fendt, Tico Times, Puerto Rico,

The absence of fishing hooks and lines on the turtles does not rule out fishermen as the cause.

Costa Rica is a popular nesting destination for the endangered olive ridley sea turtle. Hundreds of dead turtles washed up on the beach recently, and conservationists blame illegal fishermen in the Golfo Dulce. An investigation continues.
The Osa Peninsula’s pristine beaches were left in disarray this week when 280 dead turtles and other sea animals washed ashore on Monday along 10 kilometers of coast between Punta Banco and Playa Pavones, in the Southern Zone.
“Turtles do not normally die in mass like this,” said Didiher Chacón, Latin America director of the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Network (WIDECAST).
Most of the animals that washed ashore were olive ridley turtles, but officials also found marlin, sailfish and green turtles. Both species of sea turtles are recognized as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list for endangered and threatened species.
On Tuesday morning, WIDECAST sent two investigative teams to the area. Researchers pulled five recently killed turtles and two live ones from the water for lab analysis.
Coast Guard officials found another 15 dead olive ridley turtles during a boat patrol. Alarmed by the lack of physical damage to the turtles, the Coast Guard released a statement on Tuesday warning the public about possible bacteria infecting the area’s waters.
“It is possible that we are talking about a toxin like red tide,” Chacón said on Tuesday before lab results were finished. “But turtles usually do not have the same problems with bacteria that mammals do, and now, we are almost 100 percent sure it is something related to fishing.”
According to Chacón the absence of fishing hooks and lines on the turtles does not rule out fishermen as the cause.
“We did find hooks and lines in a fraction of the turtles on the beach,” he said, “but sometimes fishermen will remove the hook and cut the line. The lab tests will determine if the turtle drowned or not.”
Preliminary tests completed Wednesday afternoon showed foaming mucus and water in the turtles’ lungs. This, along with physical tests, showed the cause of death was forced submersion – likely from long-lines used by fishermen.
Officials will send these and additional test results to the judicial system to determine if fishermen are to blame. As a protected marine area, long-line fishing is illegal in the Golfo Dulce. Both Chacón and the Waters and Oceans Vice Ministry also confirmed that there were indications that live bait was used.
According to a statement released by the Marine Turtle Restoration Program (PRETOMA), area residents have spotted long-line vessels in the gulf for the past 10 days.
“We have been patrolling the area, but because of the area’s proximity to Panama there is no way of knowing if this incident occurred here or in international waters,” said Jackelyn Rivera, an adviser at the recently created Waters and Oceans Vice Ministry, part of the Environment Ministry. “We have yet to find a fishing vessel nearby.”
Coast Guard Director Martín Arías, said, “If it was illegal fishing, we have no way of knowing if it took place in the Golfo Dulce.”
WIDECAST and other environmental groups criticized government agencies for failing to take action against illegal fishing in the gulf.
“At WIDECAST, we send boats out to tag turtles all the time, and there is not a population outside of the gulf significant enough to account for this number of dead turtles,” Chacón said. “It having happened outside of the gulf is an improbable scenario.”
In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, environmental groups said that local fishing organizations have been reporting the presence of long-line and live-bait fishing vessels in the area since early January. Conservationists accused the Coast Guard of ignoring those complaints, as well as other incidences involving sailfish and marlin.
“What is happening in the south of Costa Rica is something that happens every day,” said Donald McGuiness, president of the Costa Rican Association for Responsible Fishing. “If long-lines are going to be used as a tool for fishing, it needs to be in an area with good conditions and space to use that tool. If not, the deaths of turtles will be permanent and inevitable.”
The incident has caused environmental groups to call for increased vigilance from the Coast Guard in the area, citing international laws requiring the country to protect endangered species.
“If there is no control and monitoring in these protected areas by government authorities, these situations will continue to happen,” said Mónica Gutiérrez, president of ProNature, an environmental group. “This is a joint effort; NGOs provide knowledge and resources, and the government should then ensure proper compliance through regulation.”
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Top 3 books have been heavily discounted.
Firefly Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians, 2nd Edition, General Editor Chris Mattison, 240 glossy pages, Oversize Book Once $50.00 - Now $30.00 Plus $12.00 S&H
The Lizard King, by Bryan Christy, 256 Pages, Hardcover-List Price $25.00 Sale $12.00 per book. $6.00 for S&H. (Only 2 copies left)

Albino pythons, endangered lizards and other reptiles are the currency of an underworld as dangerous and lucrative as the drug trade. Freelance writer Christy's debut is an enthusiastic chronicle of the rise and fall of a lizard kingpin and the federal agent who pursued him. Mike Van Nostrand inherited Strictly Reptiles, an import-export business in Florida, from his father, Ray, turning it into a multimillion-dollar smuggling operation. Van Nostrand imported reptiles of all shapes and sizes, usually concealed in the suitcases or clothing of his mules, and sold them to collectors and pet stores. He exploited loopholes in the international treaty on endangered-species trade and paid off corrupt officials._____________
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Invasive Pythons in the United States- Ecology of an Introduced Predator
Michael E. Dorcas and John D. Willson, Foreword by Whit Gibbons
The first detailed, comprehensive study of this invasive predator
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Turtles of the United States and Canada by Carl H. Ernst and Jeffrey E. Lovich
List Price: $98.00, (Hardcover) 840 pages
The Johns Hopkins University Press; Second edition

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In 1972, C. H. Ernst completed the daunting task of compiling a sequel to A. F. Carr's (1952) landmark Handbook of Turtles. Two decades later, Ernst, this time with assistance from former student and fellow cheloniophile J. E. Lovich, has done it again. (Copeia )
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Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico volumes 1 and 2 -$75.00 each book, $13.00 S&H for both books, $6.00 S&H for only one book.

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Carl and Evelyn Ernst have completely revised their landmark reference Venomous Reptiles of North America to present the most comprehensive review of these animals in years. A review that now needs two volumes to complete. ;Volume One of this definitive work presented dramatically improved species accounts of the venomous lizards and elapid and viperid snakes found north of Mexico's twenty-fifth parallel.

In Volume Two they cover the twenty-one rattlesnakes found in the United States, Canada, and, for the first time, species found only in northern Mexico.

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These volumes contain a wealth of information for anyone with an interest in venom, snakes, or herpetology in general.

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico Volume I & II, provides facts on each animal's diet, reproductive behavior, physiology, ecology, and conservation status. The book also covers details on snakebite, how venom is delivered, venom composition, antivenom production, and medical treatments of envenomation. Each species account includes vivid photographs that aid with identification and detailed maps that show the species range.

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Re: Herp- Digest Newsletter

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Volume # 13 Issue # 5 2/10/13
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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“The Most Comprehensive Turtle Book.”
TURTLES, TORTOISES AND TERRAPINS- A Natural History -Revised, Expanded and Updated by Ronald Orenstein, 448 pages, that’s 150 more than the first edition, 9" X 11",more than 300 full color photographs, range maps, bibliography, index
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HEALTH CARE AND REHABILITATION OF TURTLES AND TORTOISES
An excellent, must have for every turtle owner and every turtle & wildlife rehabilitator
Covers everything from general information such as: turtle anatomy, diet, stress, hibernation, brumation, outdoor and indoor enclosures and more --- to over 250 pages on shell fractures, tube feeding, bacterial and viral diseases, parasites, diagnostics, antibiotics in chelonians, and with supporting photographs. The author took great time and care to translate her and others experiences in turtle rehabilitation without the jargon, so all turtle owners enthusiasts can understand.
Full-color photographs. (2012) 393 pp. Softcover, by Amanda Ebenhack $39.85 plus $6.00 S&H see below on how to order (Overseas email us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org or S&H price)
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1) The Michigan Society of Herpetologists Conservation Grants are now available and we are accepting applications.
2) Snakes and lizards lethargic after Sandy
3) Cities Affect Temperatures for Thousands of Miles

4) Rounding Up the Rattlers-Georgia Hamlet's Rattlesnake Festival Faces Prospect of Becoming Endangered Event

5) The Whigham Rattlesnake Roundup: An Eye-Witness Account

6) The Amazing Amphibians and Reptiles of the Philippine Island Luzon

7) Python Challenge tally: Few snakes slain, but scientists and officials satisfied

8) Frogspawn in trees? How does that happen?

9) Asian long-tailed skink (Eutropis longicaudata) will aggressively defend their eggs from predators such as snakes
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RAFETUS: The Curve of Extinction
by Peter C. H. Pritchard
In this, Pritchard’s eleventh book, he tells the incredible story of the world’s rarest turtle, Rafetus swinhoei, a true giant of the chelonian world. This freshwater Loch Ness Monster, is represented by a single mystical giant living in Lake Hoan Kiem in downtown Hanoi, a juvenile in Dong Mo, perhaps a few specimens living in the shadows of deep lakes in nature, and a large adult pair who lived alone as zoo specimens for more than fifty years, separated by thousands of miles. By a miraculous feat of politics, ingenuity, and human labor, these two individuals were brought together for the purpose of saving the species. In RAFETUS: The Curve of Extinction, Dr. Pritchard presents a story of looming loss, but also of hope..$65 + $6.00 Overseas contact us for S&H info. SEE BOTTOM OF THIS ISSUE ON HOW TO ORDER. LIMITED NUMBER AVAILABLE
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“THE TORTOISE” The Turtle Conservancy’s -For Members Only-New Periodical Publication (But it’s not just about Tortoises).
HerpDigest has Gained Access to a Limited Number of the Very First issue of the Turtle Conservancy’s New Periodical Publication “The Tortoise.” Recently available only to members. And they are going fast.
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Issue # 1, is an excellent example of this, with it’s 160 pages, 100 color photos and 14 reports and stories on the work done and that needs to be done, on a number of threatened and critically endangered species from around the globe:
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The first issue is only $20.00 plus $6.00 for S&H. As all always contact us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org for overseas shipping costs.
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1) The Michigan Society of Herpetologists Conservation Grants are now available and we are accepting applications.

We have two grants available each in the amount of $500 and go towards research in Michigan:
- Our General Conservation Fund Grant can cover any project including a Massasauga Project.
- Our Massasauga Conservation Fund Grant can cover only Massasauga projects.

Applications are due by March 9th and will be awarded by April 1st. Visit the Grants webpage at http://michherp.org/MSHconserve.html for more details.

Thank you for helping us conserve Michigan Reptiles and Amphibians.

Feel free to forward this to whomever you think may be of interest.

Eric Tobin
President
Michigan Society of Herpetologists
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2) Snakes and lizards lethargic after Sandy
February 1, 2013 - NEPTUNE CITY - NewJerseyNews12.com
Pet owners may have noticed that their pet lizards and snakes have been especially lethargic since Hurricane Sandy. There's an explanation as to why these animals are eating less, moving less, and sleeping more.

Mike GaNun, the owner of Mike's Pet Center in Neptune City, explained to News 12 New Jersey that the storm brought along colder than usual temperatures. "When Hurricane Sandy came, it got real cold," GaNun says. "People didn't have power in the house. It started a false hibernation for a lot of reptiles."

He says pet owners shouldn't worry too much. Most of the reptiles will be fine by March.

Sadly, many tropical lizards that can't hibernate and need warmth died during the extended power outages. However, many dragons and snakes normally cool down in the winter months, so they've survived the cold and outages by entering a longer, deeper hibernation than usual.

GaNun recommends feeding snakes and lizards less live food during this hibernation period. He says any live food that is not eaten should be removed so the pets are not harmed by it.

Reptile owners should also keep some hand warmers in the house. In case of an extended power outage, owners can break them out, wrap them with newspaper, and put them in the animal's tank. Snakes and lizards will curl up next to them to keep warm.
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3) Cities Affect Temperatures for Thousands of Miles
Jan. 27, 2013 — Even if you live more than 1,000 miles from the nearest large city, it could be affecting your weather.

In a new study that shows the extent to which human activities are influencing the atmosphere, scientists have concluded that the heat generated by everyday activities in metropolitan areas alters the character of the jet stream and other major atmospheric systems. This affects temperatures across thousands of miles, significantly warming some areas and cooling others, according to the study this week in Nature Climate Change.
The extra "waste heat" generated from buildings, cars, and other sources in major Northern Hemisphere urban areas causes winter warming across large areas of northern North America and northern Asia. Temperatures in some remote areas increase by as much as 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the research by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography; University of California, San Diego; Florida State University; and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
At the same time, the changes to atmospheric circulation caused by the waste heat cool areas of Europe by as much as 1 degree C (1.8 degrees F), with much of the temperature decrease occurring in the fall.
The net effect on global mean temperatures is nearly negligible -- an average increase worldwide of just 0.01 degrees C (about 0.02 degrees F). This is because the total human-produced waste heat is only about 0.3 percent of the heat transported across higher latitudes by atmospheric and oceanic circulations.
However, the noticeable impact on regional temperatures may explain why some regions are experiencing more winter warming than projected by climate computer models, the researchers conclude. They suggest that models be adjusted to take the influence of waste heat into account.
"The burning of fossil fuel not only emits greenhouse gases but also directly affects temperatures because of heat that escapes from sources like buildings and cars," says NCAR scientist Aixue Hu, a co-author of the study. "Although much of this waste heat is concentrated in large cities, it can change atmospheric patterns in a way that raises or lowers temperatures across considerable distances."
Distinct from urban heat island effect
The researchers stressed that the effect of waste heat is distinct from the so-called urban heat island effect. Such islands are mainly a function of the heat collected and re-radiated by pavement, buildings, and other urban features, whereas the new study examines the heat produced directly through transportation, heating and cooling units, and other activities.
The study, "Energy consumption and the unexplained winter warming over northern Asia and North America," appeared online January 27. It was funded by the National Science Foundation, NCAR's sponsor, as well as the Department of Energy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Hu, along with lead author Guang Zhang of Scripps and Ming Cai of Florida State University, analyzed the energy consumption -- from heating buildings to powering vehicles -- that generates waste heat release. The world's total energy consumption in 2006 was equivalent to a constant-use rate of 16 terawatts (1 terawatt, or TW, equals 1 trillion watts). Of that, an average rate of 6.7 TW was consumed in 86 metropolitan areas in the Northern Hemisphere.
Using a computer model of the atmosphere, the authors found that the influence of this waste heat can widen the jet stream.
"What we found is that energy use from multiple urban areas collectively can warm the atmosphere remotely, thousands of miles away from the energy consumption regions," Zhang says. "This is accomplished through atmospheric circulation change."
The release of waste heat is different from energy that is naturally distributed in the atmosphere, the researchers noted. The largest source of heat, solar energy, warms Earth's surface and atmospheric circulations redistribute that energy from one region to another. Human energy consumption distributes energy that had lain dormant and sequestered for millions of years, mostly in the form of oil or coal.
Though the amount of human-generated energy is a small portion of that transported by nature, it is highly concentrated in urban areas. In the Northern Hemisphere, many of those urban areas lie directly under major atmospheric troughs and jet streams.
"The world's most populated and energy-intensive metropolitan areas are along the east and west coasts of the North American and Eurasian continents, underneath the most prominent atmospheric circulation troughs and ridges," Cai says. "The release of this concentrated waste energy causes the noticeable interruption to the normal atmospheric circulation systems above, leading to remote surface temperature changes far away from the regions where waste heat is generated."
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4) Rounding Up the Rattlers-Georgia Hamlet's Rattlesnake Festival Faces Prospect of Becoming Endangered Event

By Cameron McWhirter
WHIGHAM, Ga 1/27/ Wall Street Journal.—On Saturday, this hamlet in the pine woods and cotton fields of southwest Georgia hosted its 53rd annual "rattlesnake roundup," a festival that drew thousands of visitors to gawk at some of the largest and most venomous rattlers in the world.
A small group of hunters competed for prizes awarded for the largest Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake captured—the rattler featured at the festival—and for the most rattlesnakes captured. Most of the snakes will be sold, killed and their skins turned into boots, belts and wallets.
Such contests were once common in parts of the rural South. But today, they're snakebit. Whigham's roundup is one of only two still held in the Southeast U.S. where the snakes are killed afterward. In the Western U.S., only 15 roundups of the Western Diamondback—a smaller, less venomous snake—remain.
The events are sparking a debate between those who embrace the tradition and those who want it to end.
The Center for Biological Diversity, a Tucson, Ariz.-based environmental nonprofit group that opposes the events, has applied for federal protection for the rattlesnake, which would likely prohibit roundups.
In the center's view, the Eastern Diamondback is an endangered species and is vital to the ecosystem, according to Collette Adkins Giese, a center attorney heading the effort.
"This is the year 2013, you just can't be doing this anymore," Ms. Giese says. She said the roundups should be converted to "non-lethal" festivals, in which snakes are not killed.
"Most of the people are coming for the mini-doughnuts and the rides, not the snakes. You don't need to be killing the rattlesnakes at the end to have fun."
Harold Mitchell, an ecologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who is overseeing a review of the center's application for an official designation to "endangered" status, says it's too early to say what his recommendation will be.
Snake activists acknowledge that public response so far to their push moves to end the roundups has been less than enthusiastic in parts of the South.
"The bottom line is people hate snakes and they could care less what happens to them," says Jim Ries, a suburban Atlanta dad and unemployed fitness trainer whose two children are gathering signatures to end the Whigham roundup.
Roundup supporters say the events don't hurt overall snake populations and say Eastern Diamondbacks are thriving in large sections of the Southeast U.S. It's the roundups that face extinction, they argue, because younger hunters aren't taking up the dangerous practice of capturing rattlesnakes.
"Roundups are on the way out," says Ken Darnell, an Alabama businessman who collects venom to sell to pharmaceutical companies and is a supporter of the Whigham roundup. Videogames are a lot more appealing to young men than trudging through brambles to catch venomous snakes, he says.
Attendance at the Whigham roundup has dropped from as many as 40,000 people decades ago to around 15,000 in recent years, according to Barry Strickland, a member of the Whigham Community Club that sponsors the roundup. The number of snakes captured has dropped from an all-time high of 610 in 1995 to a record low of 37 last year, according to roundup records.
John Lodge, a rattlesnake hunter and community club secretary, said this year's roundup brought in 56 snakes, but he said crowds were down and not enough hunting groups participated to give out a fifth-place prize for the most snakes.
Last year, Claxton, Ga., near Savannah, ended its roundup and switched to a wildlife festival, in part from pressure from environmentalists.
"There were only four or five guys in our club who still hunted snakes anymore," says Bruce Purcell, president of the group that organizes that festival. "It had kind of fizzled out."
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, charged with identifying and protecting endangered species in the state, says the rattlesnake population in the Southeast has declined, but it also isn't convinced the snake is endangered. Fewer Eastern Diamondbacks are seen these days in some parts of the state but "that doesn't mean they are declining to the point of needing federal listing," says John Jensen, a biologist and snake expert with the state agency.
Rattlesnake hunting requires walking for hours in woods to spy holes where rattlesnakes nest. Hunters stick hoses down the holes, hoping to poke a snake and hear it rattle, or "sing," as hunters call it. They then try to dig the snakes out or might return on a warmer day when snakes could be lying out in the sun.
In Whigham, people say rattlesnakes aren't scarce. They see them slithering across roads and in backyards. When farmers bring in their crops, snakes spill out of the harvesting machines.
"You can't live around here and not see a rattlesnake," says Alice Bond, whose late father-in-law, George Bond, still holds the record for largest rattlesnake ever caught in the roundup: 15 pounds, two ounces in 1976.
Levaughn Bond, 66 years old, Alice's husband, says he's too old to hunt rattlesnakes anymore. On a recent weekday at the office of his septic-tank business, Mr. Bond got out his father's old hunting equipment: aluminum shin guards to block strikes from a coiled snake and a PVC pipe with a steel loop to grab snakes by the neck.
"You have to hunt like the devil to catch snakes," says Mr. Bond, who carries a revolver in his waistband to kill any rattlesnakes that he encounters.
Locals say the town needs the event. From 2000 to 2010, the population dropped from 631 to 471. Storefronts sit empty.
"We have nothing in this town, just one red light and a few shops," says Fay Young, who owns an antiques store on Broad Avenue, Whigham's main thoroughfare.
"The roundup brings in some people and we get some recognition," she says.
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5) The Whigham Rattlesnake Roundup: An Eye-Witness Account
January 31, 2013, Written by Justyne Lobello, Georgia Reptile Society

The Whigham Rattlesnake Roundup was, on the whole, a lot better than I expected. I expected to see Sweetwater. I expected blood and horror. I expected wholesale slaughter on a grand scale while children watched and were convinced to participate.
I saw none of that. What I saw was repugnant, make no mistake, but it seemed to be more a result of gross misunderstanding or at worst willful ignorance. Nobody at the roundup seemed bent on seeing the snakes killed, and many seemed appreciative of their natural beauty, if perhaps a bit unaware of the gravity of their situation. I believe this event still carries on with its more distasteful traditions because they are just that: tradition. Yet, there was a palpable level of defensiveness about the festival – as if the officials knew they were doing something that others disapprove of and were just waiting the chance to be “persecuted” for it.
When I arrived at the roundup, the first thing I noticed was the sheer number of people. There were hundreds if not thousands from all over South Georgia and the Florida Panhandle. People of every age, race, and walk of life it seemed. A hugely diverse crowd that was gathering for gathering’s sake. I mean, why not? There were food booths, bouncy castles, rock walls, musicians, and various local artisans and crafters selling one-of-a-kind handmade goods. The one thing that was really difficult to find, in fact, were the rattlesnakes themselves. There was only one booth selling leather goods made from snakeskin and no booths selling snake meat. The only exotic meat I saw was alligator tail, and the biggest alligator farm in the country is only 35 minutes away in the town of Camilla1. I found the rattlesnakes eventually. And while they weren’t held in a giant pit Indiana Jones-style, they were being kept inhumanely.
Whigham’s Rattlesnake Roundup hosts a hunting contest, offering cash prizes to the men who capture the most snakes over the course of a year. On the day of the Roundup, these men take the snakes they’ve caught and place them in large wood and Plexiglas containers (about 3 feet by 5 feet), dividing them according to size and species. Most of the containers with near or full-grown snakes only held about ten to fifteen, but some held as many as twenty or thirty. Now, according to the people I spoke to, the snakes are fed every two weeks and are treated more like pets than trophies. This might be true for some, but a lot of the snakes I saw looked underfed and they all looked incredibly stressed and frightened. If you look at the Canebrake cage, they’re all writhing in a pile; desperately struggling to hide underneath one another. If you look in the adult Diamondback cage, they’re hissing and striking and biting one another. As much as it pains me to admit, I’d rather see this than the events at Sweetwater, Texas. However, that doesn’t change the fact that animals who have done no harm and whose population is dwindling are being hunted for entertainment.
But was it entertaining? The people who seemed most entertained were the ones able to enter the corral where the enclosures were kept and given a chance to look at the snakes up close. They were asking questions and learning; children remarked about how pretty the snakes were to the indulgent smiles of mothers. Everyone else on the outside looked kind of bored, like they were waiting for something to happen.
An interesting fact to keep in mind is that Georgia has no regulation on the hunting of venomous snakes. The Department of Natural resources only mentions them in its last paragraph of hunting regulations: It is unlawful to take nongame wildlife except fiddler crabs, coyotes, armadillos, groundhogs, beavers, starlings, English sparrows, pigeons, and venomous snakes2. Most of the species mentioned here are considered invasive species or pests. There are no limits, no regulations, and no legal protection over the hunting of rattlesnakes in the state of Georgia. There is no time in which you cannot hunt them. There are no conditions dictating what kind of weapon, means, or tactics you use. No rules against taking gravid females or the one breeding male from an area. According to an official at the roundup, the only time rattlesnake hunters are asked not to hunt is during active days of deer season. While the IUCN Red List still lists the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake as Least Concern, its population has been trending downward at a rate of about 10% over three generations. It mentions that roundups like these account for about 2,000 rattlesnake deaths each year3.
About midway through the festival, one of the officials took up a microphone and began assuring the crowd that, despite the low numbers of snakes present at this year’s roundup, the population in the area was still thriving. He attributed the low numbers to a low turnout of hunters and atypically warm weather leading to a longer active deer season. Yet one website made for the roundup in 2002 mentioned a noticeable decline in both the snake population and the size of the snakes found (though whether this was in an official capacity is hard to deduce.) It colored this observation by mentioning that the number of snake bites had gone down in recent years as well4. The official at the roundup continued to say that this festival was important to the financial wellbeing of the county, and that people who didn’t live in Georgia were trying to shut down an honest and legal attempt at raising funds through the hunting of a dangerous animal.
So how do you hunt rattlesnakes? Well, a common way is to pour gasoline down its burrow, light it on fire, and smoke it out. But the problem is that rattlesnakes don’t burrow. They live in the holes already dug by other animals, mostly Gopher tortoises and small mammals. It’s exceedingly difficult to tell whether or not a rattlesnake actually lives in the hole until you light it on fire, and many Gopher tortoises have died as a result of this. The fumes and ash make it difficult for this burrow to be used by any other animal in need of shelter. This practice is illegal, but difficult to enforce. It’s just another one of the egregious environmental costs these rattlesnake roundups impose5.
According to the official, most of the snakes would be donated to universities for research purposes after the roundup. Some of the snakes would be killed for meat and skin (though he used the euphemism “processed”), and a select few would be given away to residents of rural areas and farms who want added pest control. It was never discussed which universities would be receiving the snakes or whether the snakes would survive their research, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. These snakes have been removed from their natural habitat and the population has taken a substantial blow. A blow which sustains itself every year this roundup continues.
I understand their motives. South Georgia and North Florida are both plagued with staggering poverty. Every attempt to bring wealth to the area is fiercely protected. But I believe they’re mistaken on one fundamental point: they don’t need to hunt rattlesnakes in order to have this festival. The Claxton Rattlesnake Roundup recently changed their name to the Claxton Rattlesnake and Wildlife Festival. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources even donated a large collection of native reptiles to the Claxton community in exchange for their discontinuing the rattlesnake hunt. What’s more is that their attendance increased after this change. More people came to learn and appreciate nature than to revel in fear and cruelty6.
This place obviously isn’t Sweetwater, so treating them like Sweetwater probably won’t work. They’ve ignored every petition, phone call, protest, and online request. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has offered Whigham the same thing they offered Claxton: a menagerie of native reptiles in exchange for a promise to stop persecuting rattlesnakes. Whigham refused. The Georgia Reptile Society stands in opposition of this event, but we do see an inkling of hope in the attitudes of the festival-goers here and in Claxton. We’re going to visit Whigham personally to offer the same thing the DNR offered. We will come down ourselves and host our own reptile exhibition on the day of the Roundup in exchange for the lives of Georgia’s wildlife. We will bring our own pets, our own expertise, and our own sweat and give the city of Whigham and its residents an exhibition of native and exotic reptiles they won’t soon forget.
So how can you help? If you live in the state of Georgia, you can join the Georgia Reptile Society. Your membership fees not only make our meetings fun and exciting, but also go directly towards projects like this. If you don’t want to join or if you live outside of Georgia, you can give directly on our website through a secure PayPal donation. Whigham is quite isolated and getting there involves several hours of driving from even the closest of large cities. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated and would serve to aid these animals that are suffering from deadly ignorance and fatal persecution.
www.gareptilesociety.org
Notes
1. http://www.voanews.com/content/alligato ... 08127.html
2. http://www.eregulations.com/georgia/hun ... formation/
3. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/64308/0
4. http://www.caironet.com/RATTLE.HTM
5. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/64308/0 - Under “Major Threats” - Another direct threat is the collecting of rattlesnakes for the skin trade and for competition for prizes in rattlesnake roundups held annually in Alabama (1) and Georgia (3). While probably not a serious threat in itself, when coupled with habitat loss, this sort of collecting is additive. It utilizes the practice of gassing the burrows of the Gopher Tortoise in winter (illegal in Florida and Georgia), sometimes killing rattlesnakes outright, and usually impacting the other fauna inhabiting burrows (Speake and Mount 1973).
1. http://yubanet.com/usa/48-000-People-Ca ... QnA-mewWJ1 - All of Georgia's other roundups have abandoned the outdated practice of removing rare rattlers from the wild. Last year Claxton, Ga., replaced its roundup with the Claxton Rattlesnake and Wildlife Festival, which displays captive rattlesnakes, along with many other educational wildlife exhibits. While attendance at the Whigham roundup dropped in past years, the new wildlife festival in Claxton received a boost in attendance and high praise from environmental groups, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, biologists and others who have lobbied for years to end rattlesnake roundups.
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6) The Amazing Amphibians and Reptiles of the Philippine Island Luzon
Feb. 7, 2013 — A recent study of the amphibians and reptiles of Sierra Madre Mountain Range, northeastern Luzon, reveals a preliminary enumeration of more than 100 species that contribute to the unique biodiversity of the region. At present, the Luzon region's herpetological range stands at more than 150 species. Out of these, a total of 49 amphibian species have been documented, 44 of which are native and a remarkable 32 endemic. In the world of reptiles, Luzon can boast with 106 native species, 76 of which are unique to this region.
The catalogue published in the open access journal Zookeys features a fascinating range of reptiles and amphibians, such as the beautifully coloured colubrid snake Hologerrhum philippinum, which is one of the four endemic snake genera from the region and can be recognized by the vibrant-yellow skin decoration. Another species that provokes amazement is the bizarre soft-shell turtle Pelochelys cantorii. The variety described in this study includes fascinating frogs, crocodiles, snakes, lizards and many more, offering a menagerie of shapes and colours all documented in stunning photography.
With such a great array of biodiversity, the northern Philippines has been the focus of of large numbers of new species discoveries and re-discoveries of new species in recent decades, establishing it as a major regional biodiversity hotspot. The herpetological diversity of the island may grow to as many as 90-100 (70-80% endemic) amphibian species and as many as 150-160 reptiles with the contributions of ongoing biodiversity studies in the near future. It will be a major challenge to monitor these communities through time in order to assess their responses to land use changes, climate change, resource extraction, introduced species, emerging infectious disease, and habitat degradation.
With the initial baseline information provided in the survey, tremendous opportunities exist for future studies in taxonomy, biogeography, ecology and conservation of northern Luzon's amphibians and reptiles. Conservation of Luzon's vertebrate biodiversity remains an on-going effort, challenged by rapid development,logging, mining and conversion of natural habitats into agricultural lands to provide food for a burgeoning human population.
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7) Python Challenge tally: Few snakes slain, but scientists and officials satisfied
By Michael Kruse and Craig Pittman, Tampa Bay Times Staff Writers
Saturday, February 9, 2013

For four weeks, more than 1,500 people from 38 states and Canada have been beating the bushes across South Florida, hunting pythons and hoping to win a prize.
Florida's Python Challenge, which began with a lot of hoopla Jan. 12, winds down with a whimper Sunday night. As of Friday, the hunters had found only 50 snakes out of a population estimated to be 5,000 to 10,000. A female python can replace that number with a single clutch of eggs.
But the scientists studying the Everglades pythons are ecstatic about the information they have been able to gather as a result of having so many people looking for the snakes at the same time.
"It's been an unprecedented scientific effort," said Frank Mazzotti, a University of Florida biologist overseeing the collection of data from the hunt.
Mazzotti said he expects it to provide fresh findings about where the snakes live, what they eat, how people miss seeing them and where they got all the toxic mercury that their bodies contain. What has been found so far "suggests to me that the invasion is further north than we expected," he said.
Meanwhile, state wildlife officials are so delighted at how global news coverage of the event raised awareness of the python problem that they're thinking of holding another one next year.
"I think we'll do it again," said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Chairman Ken Wright, an Orlando land-use attorney.
Wright's fellow wildlife commissioner, "Alligator Ron" Bergeron, has been urging federal officials to allow the next hunt to include the 1.5 million acres in Everglades National Park, where no hunting has been allowed since the park was created in 1947.
"I don't think we can get it under control without that," said Bergeron, a developer and rodeo champion who once got in trouble for wrestling an alligator that then bit him.
Bergeron, who caught a 12-foot python during the hunt, said that when he asked National Park Service officials about the possibility, they said hunting is not allowed. "My response was, 'Well, hunting is going on in there now, because this snake is in there hunting your whole food chain.' "
Everglades National Park superintendent Dan Kimball was not available for comment Friday.
Biologists at the park have been sounding the alarm about the invasion of exotic species such as the python for years. The problem captured worldwide attention in 2005 when Everglades National Park employees snapped photos of a python that had died while attempting to swallow an alligator, and the photo went viral.
The bigger risk is to animals smaller than the gators. In a report published last year, Mazzotti and a team of scientists said they found that between 2003 and 2011, the areas where pythons had proliferated saw a 99 percent decrease in raccoons, a 98 percent drop in opossums, a 94 percent drop in white-tailed deer and an 87 percent falloff for bobcats.
"We observed no rabbits or foxes," the report noted.
So far nothing has put much of a dent in the python invasion — not a government effort to trap and track them, not a severe cold snap, not even the Atlantic Ocean. Some pythons are showing up in the Keys, having apparently swum there from the mainland.
"I don't know of any approach that shows any promise of eradicating them," said Davidson College professor Michael Dorcas, co-author of Invasive Pythons in the United States.
Last year the wildlife commission hit on the idea of the Python Challenge, offering $1,500 for the most pythons killed and $1,000 for the longest python. The hunt would be limited to four wildlife management areas on the outskirts of the national park, and hunters would be required to record the GPS locations where they found their quarry and turn in the carcass for scientific examination.
The idea of tracking huge, exotic snakes through Florida's most famous wilderness attracted a lot of amateurs like Eddie Ford, 38, of St. Petersburg, who normally writes apps for iPhones. He went down during the first weekend of the Python Challenge to try his luck. He found nothing and hasn't been back.
"It's bizarre there's not more that have been caught," he said. "I think it's kind of been a dismal failure."
Ford got off light. Two would-be python killers from Tennessee got lost north of the park and had to be airlifted out Thursday, suffering from heat exhaustion and dehydration. They found no snakes either.
More successful were licensed professional snake slayers like Ruben Ramirez, 40, of Miami, who is part of a team called Florida Python Hunters. Although he wouldn't say how many he'd killed, Ramirez is looking forward to when the commission hands out the prizes on Feb. 16.
"We're in the lead. I'll tell you that much," he said.
According to Wright, the reason why so few snakes have been caught is that the winter was too warm. Cold weather would have flushed more pythons out of their hiding places to seek the warmth of the sun.
But Mazzotti and Dorcas said 50 seemed fairly reasonable, given the limited area of the hunt, the difficulty in getting access to some of the wetter areas of the River of Grass and the fact that the snakes are so well camouflaged.
"It's almost what I would expect," Dorcas said. "It might even be a few more."
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8) Frogspawn in trees? How does that happen?
Wildllife Extra 2/8/13- What leaves frog spawn six foot up a tree? There is a rational answer, and it doesn't involve a new breed of super-frog!
Staff at Devon Wildlife Trust's Working Wetlands project recently made a surprise discovery when working on land near Roadford Lake, in north Devon. They were quickly able to identify the jelly-like substance as frog spawn but weren't able to fathom how it had come to be on a tree trunk.
Project Manager Mark Elliott picks up the story: ‘Finding frogspawn at this time in winter is not that unusual, especially the mild weather of the past week. But finding it up in a tree was. It's not something I'd come across before. Common frogs lay their spawn in water and it's there that tadpoles develop. Not in trees!'
Mark took a photo of the frogspawn and sent it to Devon Biodiversity Records Centre for identification. It is DBRC's job to keep a central archive of the county's wildlife records. Staff there process thousands of biological sightings each year. The experience and expertise gained from this work meant that staff member Ellie Knot had seen similar cases before and was able to add an explanation to the puzzle.
Ellie said: ‘This kind of finding is commonly known as a 'star slime' - a lot of animals and birds eat frogs, but they don't eat their ovaries because the eggs or spawn contained in them expand massively when they come in to contact with water. This expansion would be enough to give anyone stomach-ache! Freshly laid spawn is fairly small - the eggs (in their jelly cases) are less than 5mm across, but once it has been around for a few hours the eggs expand to more than 1cm across. The clump of frogspawn usually ends up much larger than the frog that laid it. So, when birds, etc eat a frog they leave the ovaries behind, which then expand and burst when they get wet, leaving a clump of spawn.'

‘In fact, it is not that uncommon to find frogspawn in trees - buzzards and crows will often take frogs, retreat to a nearby perch and then eat their prey there, leaving the ovaries and the spawn behind after their meal.'
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9) Asian long-tailed skink (Eutropis longicaudata) will aggressively defend their eggs from predators such as snakes
Press Release, James Cook University, Australia, 1/29/13
A particular species of lizard will aggressively defend their eggs from predators such as snakes, a James Cook University researcher has found.
Dr David Pike, lecturer in JCU’s School of Marine and Tropical Biology, has helped produce a study titled Predation drives inter-population differences in parental care expression, which was recently published in the British-based Journal of Animal Ecology.
The paper was co-authored by Wen-San Huang, a researcher at the National Museum of Natural Science in Taiwan, Si-Min Lin, an academic at National Taiwan Normal University, and Sylvain Dubey, a researcher at University of Lausanne.
Dr Pike said the research, which was conducted on Orchid Island off Taiwan, found mother lizards attacked snakes that attempted to raid their nest.
The species involved were the Asian long-tailed skink (Eutropis longicaudata) and an egg-eating snake (Oligodon formosanus).
“Among lizards in general, it is quite rare to find a species that stays with the eggs until they hatch, but the long-tailed skink that we studied is among the few species that do guard their eggs,” Dr Pike said.
“We found that the lizards will aggressively defend their eggs from predators - even snakes.”
Dr Pike said it might surprise people that lizards could deter a predator as formidable as a snake.
“Many snake species readily eat lizards, so with the species we studied, we found we were either dealing with a very unique lizard or very wimpy snakes,” he said.
“Lizards can be very aggressive towards snakes, as most mothers can be when provoked, but this snake species was only interested in eating the lizard eggs, and not the mother lizard.”
The physical attributes of the two were also a factor in the phenomenon, he said.
“The lizards are also pretty big and the snakes don’t get very big. This allows the lizards to attack snakes without fear of being eaten,” he said.
“The lizards understand that the snakes will not eat them, and as a consequence will fiercely attack snakes that enter the nest. “
“By deterring snakes these mothers ensure that their eggs will hatch.”
Dr Pike said an interesting part of this unusual lizard-snake relationship was that the Asian long-tailed skink only protected its eggs on Orchid Island.
“On nearby islands, this same lizard species lays the eggs and leaves them to face nature’s fate alone,” he said.
New research had shed light on why this behaviour had evolved in nature, he said.
“The reason that mother lizards attack snakes is very clear – mothers who protect their eggs have more babies than mothers who abandon them. This behaviour happens only on Orchid Island because there are many more egg-eating snakes there than most other locations.
“In fact, when researchers transferred individual lizards from their home island with very few snakes to Orchid Island, which has lots of snakes, female lizards changed their behaviour and became good mothers.”
In contrast, when the nest-defending mothers were moved to islands with few snakes, these females decided not to guard their eggs, because of the small chance that they would eaten by snakes.
“So, it turns out that almost all long-tailed skinks can and will be good mothers by protecting their eggs from snakes, but only when there are lots of snakes hanging around,” he said.
“This shows that motherhood can be dependent on the risks that the offspring face during their most vulnerable period, the egg stage, and can vary according to the threat of predation.”
Dr Pike said he had been involved in the study for two years, but his collaborators in Taiwan had been studying the Asian long-tailed skink for 15 years.
For more information, interviews or photos, please contact Dr Pike on 0448 433 785.
JCU Media contact: Caroline Kaurila (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175
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Top 3 books have been heavily discounted.
Firefly Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians, 2nd Edition, General Editor Chris Mattison, 240 glossy pages, Oversize Book Once $50.00 - Now $30.00 Plus $12.00 S&H (Only 3 copies Left)
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Invasive Pythons in the United States- Ecology of an Introduced Predator
Michael E. Dorcas and John D. Willson, Foreword by Whit Gibbons
The first detailed, comprehensive study of this invasive predator
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Re: Herp- Digest Newsletter

Postby Philsuma » Sat Feb 23, 2013 11:24 am

Volume # 13 Issue # 7 2/23/13
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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“The Most Comprehensive Turtle Book.”
TURTLES, TORTOISES AND TERRAPINS- A Natural History -Revised, Expanded and Updated by Ronald Orenstein, 448 pages, that’s 150 more than the first edition, 9" X 11",more than 300 full color photographs, range maps, bibliography, index
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HEALTH CARE AND REHABILITATION OF TURTLES AND TORTOISES
An excellent, must have for every turtle owner and every turtle & wildlife rehabilitator
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. The Southwestern Research Station (SWRS) is happy to offer time “Conservation Medicine and Diseases of Amphibians and Reptiles”.
2. MANAGEMENT OF A CONCURRENT RANAVIRUS AND HERPESVIRUS EPIZOOTIC EVENT IN CAPTIVE EASTERN BOX TURTLES (Terrapene carolina carolina)
3. Maternal transfer of contaminants and reduced reproductive success of southern toads (Bufo [Anaxyrus] terrestris) exposed to coal combustion waste
4. Volunteer Research Assistants in Tropical Herpetology Needed
5. Climate Change Severe Threat to Sea Turtles
6. Biodiversity: Is Florida a global hotspot for reptile extinction?
7. Gulf Coast terrapin claimed national limelight
8. Nineteen Baby Siamese Crocodiles Released In Lao PDR by WCS and Partners
9. Newt Transcriptome Offers Insight Into Tissue Regeneration
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RAFETUS: The Curve of Extinction
by Peter C. H. Pritchard
In this, Pritchard’s eleventh book, he tells the incredible story of the world’s rarest turtle, Rafetus swinhoei, a true giant of the chelonian world. This freshwater Loch Ness Monster, is represented by a single mystical giant living in Lake Hoan Kiem in downtown Hanoi, a juvenile in Dong Mo, perhaps a few specimens living in the shadows of deep lakes in nature, and a large adult pair who lived alone as zoo specimens for more than fifty years, separated by thousands of miles. By a miraculous feat of politics, ingenuity, and human labor, these two individuals were brought together for the purpose of saving the species. In RAFETUS: The Curve of Extinction, Dr. Pritchard presents a story of looming loss, but also of hope..$65 + $6.00 Overseas contact us for S&H info. SEE BOTTOM OF THIS ISSUE ON HOW TO ORDER. LIMITED NUMBER AVAILABLE
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1) The Southwestern Research Station (SWRS) is happy to offer “Conservation Medicine and Diseases of Amphibians and Reptiles”.

COURSE URL:
http://research.amnh.org/swrs/conservat ... d-reptiles

WHERE AND WHEN: SWRS, Portal, Arizona, 23 – 29 June 2013. Driving directions to the station can be found at: http://research.amnh.org/swrs. For those that will be flying into the area, Tucson International Airport (TIA) is the closest airport to SWRS. Attendees are encouraged to arrive at TIA by early Sunday afternoon 23 June. It is a 2.5 hr drive from TIA to the SWRS. Dinner at SWRS is at 6 pm and an informal social begins at 7 pm. Please plan your departure for 29 June.

ORGANIZERS AND INSTRUCTORS: Drs. Darryl Heard and Elliott Jacobson

ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTORS: The course will have the following additional instructors: Richard Funk, Jim Jarchow, DVM, Allan Pessier, Kevin Wright

PARTICIPANTS: The course is designed for undergraduates and graduate students in
Conservation Ecology, Wildlife, Biological Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine who expect to study, breed, and manage populations of amphibians and/or reptiles in the field and in captivity. “What does Conservation Medicine Mean” and “How can it be Functionally Used to Manage Populations of Amphibians and Reptiles” will be explored. Concepts of infectious diseases, anesthesia, use of pain medications, sampling techniques, surgical techniques, and handling of venomous species will be covered. The course will include lectures and labs. There will be opportunities to go out locally in the field to observe native herps. Blood may be collected from some of these animals. No private collecting is allowed.

FEES: Tuition for the 6 night COURSE is $850 that should be paid by all participants on being informed of their acceptance. Tuition covers course fees for the course and room and board at the SWRS. Preferred payment to SWRS is certified check or money order. If you must pay with a credit card, please call the SWRS (520-558-2396) and speak with Tresa Glore. Transportation costs between home and Tucson (air) or SWRS (auto) are to be borne by participants.

HOW TO APPLY: The application form is available on the course URL: see above

FOR LOGISTICS ABOUT THE COURSE PLEASE CONTACT:
Elliot Jacobson, jacobsone@ufl.edu

FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE SWRS PLEASE CONTACT
Elaine Moisan, Group Coordinator, emoisan@amnh.org or 520-558-2396.

DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: 20 APRIL 2013. IF ACCEPTED INTO THE COURSE, FEES ARE DUE BY 10 MAY 2013. PLEASE SEE CANCELLATION POLICY ON THE COURSE website
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2) MANAGEMENT OF A CONCURRENT RANAVIRUS AND HERPESVIRUS EPIZOOTIC EVENT IN CAPTIVE EASTERN BOX TURTLES (Terrapene carolina carolina)

From 2012 Proceedings Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians
Richard R. Sim, DVM,1* Allison N. Wack, DVM,1 Matthew C. Allender, DVM, MS, Dipl ACZM2, Kevin J. Murphy, BS,3 and Ellen Bronson, med vet, Dipl ACZM1

1Hospital Department, Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, MD 21217 USA; 2Department of Comparative Biosciences, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61802 USA; 3Animal Department, Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, Baltimore, MD 21217 USA

ABSTRACT
Ranavirus is an emerging pathogen affecting captive and wild Eastern Box Turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina) in eastern North America. In July 2011, five Eastern Box Turtles from a group of 27 presented dead or moribund with fibrinonecrotic stomatitis and cloacitis. The remaining 22 animals were quarantined indoors and isolated into one of three groups based on clinical severity: no lesions, mild, or severe. Treatment included nutritional support, fluid therapy, antibiotics, and antiviral famciclovir (10, 20, or 30 mg/kg p.o. q 24 hr, randomly assigned). Treatment was discontinued at 34 days for the no lesions group and 10 days after clinical resolution for the others. Oral swabs from days 0, 10, 34, and 60 were tested for Ranavirus by quantitative real-time PCR and from day 0 for Herpesvirus by conventional PCR. On day 80, the surviving 14 turtles were returned to the outdoor exhibit for brumation. Overall, 77.3% tested positive for Ranavirus and 54.5% for Herpesvirus. Median duration of treatment for Ranavirus-positive survivors was 49 days (range 34 – 80 days). On days 0, 10, 34, and 60, Ranavirus prevalence was 72.7% (n=22; median viral copies (MVC) 7.06 x 106), 50% (n=18; MVC 9.11x107), 31.3% (n=16; MVC 2.46 x 106), and 0% (n=14; MVC 0). The survival rate was 64.7% (n=11) among those that were Ranavirus-positive. Of the 17 Ranavirus-positive animals, 10 were concurrently Herpesvirus-positive. Survival was 57% among those that tested only Ranavirus-positive, and 70% among those that tested positive for Ranavirus and Herpesvirus. All 14 turtles survived brumation, showing no clinical signs 1 mo after emergence.
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3) Maternal transfer of contaminants and reduced reproductive success of southern toads (Bufo [Anaxyrus] terrestris) exposed to coal combustion waste
Brian S. Metts , Kurt A Buhlmann , Tracey D Tuberville , David E Scott , and William A. Hopkins

Environ. Sci. Technol., Just Accepted Manuscript
DOI: 10.1021/es303989u
Publication Date (Web): February 13, 2013

(Apology but whom to contact, as well as organizations authors are associated with was not available.)

Abstract
Bioaccumulation of contaminants and subsequent maternal transfer to offspring are important factors that affect the reproductive success of wildlife. However, maternal transfer of contaminants has rarely been investigated in amphibians. We examined maternal transfer of trace elements in southern toads (Bufo[Anaxyrus] terrestris) residing in two locations: 1) an active coal combustion waste (CCW) disposal basin and adjacent 40-ha floodplain contaminated with CCW over 35 years ago, and 2) an uncontaminated reference site. Our study is among the few to document tissue concentration-dependent maternal transfer of contaminants and associated adverse effects in amphibians. We found that females collected from the CCW-contaminated area had elevated concentrations of Ni, Se, and Sr; these females also transferred elevated levels of Cu, Pb, Se, and Sr to their eggs compared to females from the reference site. Overall reproductive success, estimated as a function of clutch size and offspring viability, was reduced by 27% in clutches collected from parents from the contaminated site compared to the reference site. Offspring viability negatively correlated with female and/or egg concentrations of Se and Ni. Reproductive success negatively correlated with Se and Cu concentrations in females, and Se concentrations in eggs. Our study highlights how exposure to CCW can negatively affect amphibian reproduction.
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4)Volunteer Research Assistants in Tropical Herpetology Needed

The Biodiversity Group is seeking highly motivated volunteer research
assistants to join our field team in the Amazonian rainforest of Ecuador.
Our current project includes amphibian and reptile biodiversity surveys as
well as implementing thorough plot surveys and drift fence arrays at one
of our remote study sites surrounding an Ecuadorian Kichwa community.
While Ecuador stands as the third most diverse country in the world for
amphibians (510 species) and is seventh for reptiles (430 species), making
it a herpetologically mega-diverse region. Due to the severe deforestation
taking place in addition to many other pressures on Ecuador’s fauna, The
Biodiversity Group research program aims to study, document, and preserve
these rich and unique communities of reptiles and amphibians found within
the country’s diverse array of ecosystems.

The work that research assistants will be involved with will primarily
consist of conducting night surveys for reptiles and amphibians (however
other taxa such as invertebrates are also of interest), animal data
collection, and daily lab work. Field assistant will learn capture and
release methods, take detailed measurements on animal morphology, screen
for chytrid diseases, and learn techniques in animal preservation and
acquisition of DNA samples. Assistants will also have the opportunity to
learn the basics of taking diagnostic photography. Other tasks include
animal handling and general note taking and data organization.
Research assistants will gain valuable research experience, learn about
the Kichwa community, contribute towards our mission in conservation
ecology, and will have an unforgettable experience that provides the
opportunity to study the most biologically diverse region of reptiles and
amphibians in the world. Our summer research expeditions are scheduled in
Amazonian Ecuador for June 2-13 and June 16-24, 2013. Assistants can join
for one term or two.

Qualifications:
Research assistants accepted to join our team should be 18 or older, able
to walk 10+ miles a day in hot, humid, and muddy conditions, be
comfortable working in the field late at night with a small group, and
have a general interest in conservation ecology and herpetology. However,
the most important qualifications that you can bring to the project are
enthusiasm, energy, and a good work ethic. Anyone meeting these general
criteria is encouraged to apply. Training for field techniques will be
provided upon arrival and participants will be briefed on safety and risks
prior to and during the research expedition.

Please go the following link for more information about the work,
expedition fees, and to apply:
http://biodiversitygroup.org/participat ... apply.html

*Students can acquire academic credit (often towards senior
research/thesis) with TBG along with their current college or university.
Depending on the requirements of your program, you may be asked to collect
a unique data set, write a paper, and/or receive a written evaluation from
your expedition leaders. If your program does not have a similar document,
participants will fill out a signed agreement with TBG and an academic
advisor specifying the goals and deliverables of the experience.
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5) Climate Change Severe Threat to Sea Turtles

Time of India, SYDNEY: 2/19/13 Scientists have sounded the alarm over the mounting threat to marine turtle populations worldwide from climate change and coastal development.

The scientists have made a strong pitch for protecting key nesting grounds, and areas that may be suitable for the purpose in the future, to ensure that the marine reptiles have a better chance of withstanding climate change.

Turtles play a significant role in seed dispersal and ecology. They act as scavengers of the marine ecosystem, cleaning up a lot of dying, dead and decaying plant and animal matter.

"We have to protect their nesting sites and to address threats such as by catch and coastal development," said Mariana Fuentes from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) and James Cook University, the journal Global Change Biology reports.

"We have seen sea turtle populations decline dramatically in recent decades, and it is likely to get worse due to climate change, as they're particularly vulnerable to it," said Fuentes, who led the study, according to a CoERCS statement.

Reportedly, some turtle populations in the West Indian Ocean, Northeast Indian Ocean, North Pacific Ocean, East Atlantic Ocean and the East Pacific Ocean are among the least likely to recover from the impacts of climate change.

"Climate change can affect their nesting beaches through sea level rise, stronger cyclones and storms; high temperatures can cause their eggs to die before they hatch, or produce an unnatural sex ratio and adversely affect their food sources," added Fuentes.
Share your views
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6) Biodiversity: Is Florida a global hotspot for reptile extinction?
Posted on February 17, 2013 by Bob Berwyn

Freshwater turtles, like this specimen in Butrint, Albania, are facing serious threats. Bob Berwyn photo.
Freshwater turtles among the most threatened species
By Summit Voice
A recent far-reaching study of the world’s amphibians and reptiles finds that Florida is hotspot for environmental threats, with one of the highest concentrations of threatened reptiles in the world.
The new report highlights the need to address the global reptile extinction crisis: One in five reptiles is facing extinction from threats like habitat loss, overharvest and climate change.
“Florida is blessed with a rich diversity of lizards, turtles and snakes,” said Collette Adkins Giese, reptile-and-amphibian specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Unfortunately, threats like habitat loss from rapid development are continuing to push many of these rare reptiles to the brink of extinction.”
More than 200 experts from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission collaborated to study a random sample of 1,500 of the world’s reptile species. Globally, one in five reptiles is facing extinction. The study also flagged the rapidly deteriorating plight of freshwater turtles, estimating that 50 percent of these animals are at risk of extinction.
“People tend to assume that, since reptiles have thick, scaly skins, they’re pretty tough creatures that will do fine as the world changes. But in fact reptiles are quite sensitive to environmental change because of their very specific habitat requirements,” said Adkins Giese. “This new study confirms that reptiles are facing a global extinction crisis that demands more aggressive action to curb threats like habitat destruction and overharvest.”
The Center is working to gain Endangered Species Act protection for more than a dozen imperiled reptiles found in Florida. In 2011 the group filed the largest-ever Endangered Species Act petition focused solely on protecting U.S. amphibians and reptiles.
It also filed a 2010 petition seeking protection for hundreds of aquatic species in the Southeast, including many rare reptile species. These rare Florida reptiles include the Barbour’s map turtle, eastern ribbon snake, Florida Keys mole skink, Key ringneck snake and alligator snapping turtle.
Information via the Center for Biological Diversity
The Barbour’s map turtle is found in wide, clear streams with swift currents and snags for basking in the Apalachicola River system of Georgia, Alabama and Florida. This turtle preys mainly on mollusks and insects such as caddisfly larvae; it can only survive in waters clean enough to support its prey base. Barbour’s map turtles are threatened by commercial collection, dredging, pollution and disease.
The eastern ribbon snake (Lower Florida Keys population) is found on only a few of the mainline islands of the Lower Keys in Monroe County, Fla. Its freshwater wetland habitat is extremely limited and threatened by residential and urban development. The ribbon snake is black, with three yellow stripes, and gets its name from its very slender body.
The Florida Keys mole skink is a tiny lizard found only on sandhills and scrub of some of the Florida Keys. It usually occurs near the shoreline, in sandy areas where it burrows into soil. Its populations are declining primarily due to habitat destruction and overcollection.
The Key ringneck snake is a six-inch-long, nonvenomous resident of the Florida Keys, including Key West and Big Pine Key. These slate-gray snakes with muted neck rings face an ongoing barrage of unmitigated threats to the seaside limestone outcroppings and rockland areas they call home. Largely due to ongoing residential development, the snakes’ rockland hammock habitat has been reduced by 98 percent, leaving highly fragmented population pockets.
The alligator snapping turtle was once abundant in U.S. river systems draining into the Gulf of Mexico, from the waterways and lakes of the upper Midwest to the swamps and bayous of Florida, Louisiana and Texas. But recent population surveys demonstrate the turtles now face declines of up to 95 percent, over much their historic range, from overharvest and unchecked habitat degradation. These slow-moving, largely sedentary behemoths are easy prey for hunters who still look to feed thriving world markets for the exhibition and consumption of the turtles.
For more information about the Center’s campaign to stop the reptile and amphibian extinction crisis, visit http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/herps.
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7) Gulf Coast terrapin claimed national limelight
Published: February 16, 2013
HAROLD GATER/SUN HERALD/1987The early 20th century witnessed an unusual type of farming on the Mississippi Coast. Turtle farms were usually wooden pens half in the water and half on the land, and the "herds" of diamondback terrapins were gathered from across the region.

The counts dined luxuriously on chopped oysters from the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi Sound.Then, in turn, they became the dinner.
"Counts" were the largest diamondback terrapins on Coast turtle farms, with the rest of the penned herd called bulls and heifers. They, too, were fed oysters, which were plentiful at the turn of the 20th century.

When turtle soup was all the rage in New York, Washington and among the wealthy along the Eastern Seaboard, coastal Mississippians happily and profitably provided the main ingredient. Terrapins were native to the Gulf region, as one Chicago reporter explained in a March 1912 story datelined Biloxi: "Diamondback terrapin, selling today on the market in New York and Chicago for $5 each ($113 equivalent today) are to be had practically for the asking along the Gulf Coast, if one has the hardihood to bare his arms and reach into a hole in the mud where the terrapin is enjoying his winter siesta."

E.F. Younger was writing about outdoors possibilities for Northerners who retreat to this Southern winter resort. One section of his piece was "Terrapin for the Asking":"Of course, there is always the chance that the terrapin will wake up and take a nip at the intruding hand, but that is one of the fortunes of war. If you beat him to it and drag him out of his retreat, you have the chief ingredient for the finest soup known to epicures."

Local history lovers will recognize a twist of Baltimore irony in this story. Earlier, Biloxi entrepreneurs had traveled to that Maryland city to learn the secrets of the so-called Seafood Capital of the World. They learned well and within a few decades Biloxi claimed to be the seafood capital.

Baltimore was also world famous for the diamondback terrapins they supplied for turtle soup, but the terrapin were over-fished and by the turn of the century they were scarce. When Baltimore could no longer supply the national demand, the Gulf region, particularly Louisiana and Mississippi, stepped forward and people such as Chicago's Younger sang the praises of the local turtles.

Several sizable farms, with 4,000 to 14,000 turtles, sprang up on Biloxi Back Bay, Deer Island and Bay St. Louis. Those were not like the turtle farms of today that create new stock through breeding. Most of the "herd" was rounded up by entrepreneurial fishermen and others who scoured the marshland, islands and elsewhere for turtle stock. They sold them to farmers, who kept them fed and in pens until it was time to fill orders.

"The trapper or boatman catching the turtle was paid $1 for counts, 25 cents for heifers and 5 cents for bulls," the late Capt. Ernest Desporte of Biloxi recalled in his memoirs. "The terrapin in his natural habitat while in the water would bury and was caught by oystermen looking for large oysters in the bays and shallow waters of Louisiana marsh."

One Back Bay farm between Lameuse and Reynoir streets was a curiosity to visitors and locals. Reported The Daily Herald in 1909: "The acreage is mostly under water surrounded by piling and timbers that prevent the live crop to diamond turtle bucks from leaving their happy salt sea home. They have a sunning place on the beach."

Most farmers shipped their stock out of the region, but one enterprising Hancock County man, H.J. Thurston, canned turtle soup. His company outlasted the farms, likely because he used assorted turtle varieties, as he announced in a November 1917 Herald: "To Fishermen, I will buy all kinds, green turtle, loggerheads, Mobilians and terrapin."

Aiken, Moran and Anderson also join the names of Coast turtle fame. Hurricanes, a depleted stock and federal laws to keep the terrapin from extinction, brought this local history chapter to a close within two decades. Turtle soup was replaced with mock turtle soup, in which muskrats were deemed a suitable substitute.
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8) Nineteen Baby Siamese Crocodiles Released In Lao PDR by WCS and Partners

Fewer than 250 of the critically endangered crocs remain in the wild

Release is a collaboration of WCS, Government of Lao PDR, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Minmetals Resources Limited, Lao Zoo,
and local communities

THAN SOUM, LAO PDR (February 21, 2012) — The Wildlife Conservation Society announced today the successful release of 19 critically endangered baby Siamese crocodiles into a local wetland in Lao PDR, where they will be repatriated into the wild.

The 19-month-old hatchlings, approximately 70 cm (27 inches) in length, are part of a head-starting program where crocodiles are hatched at the Lao Zoo for eventual release into their native habitat.

Conservationists estimate that less than 250 Siamese crocodiles remain in the wild due to overhunting and habitat loss.

The release took place in the village of Than Soum in the Xe Champhone wetland complex in Savanakhet Province near where the eggs of the 19 crocodiles were found during wildlife surveys in 2011.

The hatchlings were transported from the Lao Zoo to a ‘soft release’ pen and will remain for several months to acclimate with the local area. Members of the Village Crocodile Conservation Group will guard the pen and provide supplementary feeding of the hatchlings to ensure their survival. Once the rainy season begins, the water level in the wetland will rise and allow the crocodiles to swim away, where they will be monitored periodically by conservationists.

A public ceremony will take place on March 6th in Than Soum where local community members will celebrate this collaborative effort with WCS, Government of Lao PDR, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Minmetals Resources Limited, and the Lao Zoo.

WCS Lao PDR Program designed and implemented the release as part of the Community-based Crocodile Recovery and Livelihood Improvement Project. The goal of the program is the recovery of the local Siamese crocodile population and restoration of associated wetlands, linked by socio-economic incentives that improve local livelihoods.

“We are extremely pleased with the success of this collaborative program and believe it is an important step in contributing to the conservation of the species by involving local communities in long term wetland management,” said Alex McWilliam a conservation biologist with WCS’s Lao PDR Program. “The head starting component of this integrated WCS program represents a significant contribution to the conservation of this magnificent animal in the wild.”

Rick Watsford, General Manager, MMG Lane Xang Minerals Limited Sepon, said: “MMG is proud to support the work of the Government of Lao PDR and the WCS in relation to this program. This support demonstrates our company’s commitment contributing positively to the communities in which we operate.”

Joe Walston, WCS Executive Director for Asia Programs, said: “Successful conservation is about partnerships – whether it’s at the global level with climate change and wildlife trade or the local level with tigers and crocs – the collective support of local communities, governments, and the private sector in Laos makes stories like this so encouraging.”

Classified as Critically Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Siamese crocodile grows up to 10 feet in length. The species has been eliminated from much of its former range through Southeast Asia and parts of Indonesia by overhunting and habitat degradation and loss.

In 2014, the head-starting component of the program will be taken on by local communities in the Xe Champhone wetland complex. WCS has already conducted training for this transition and implemented a trial program of rearing young crocodiles at Than Soum village.
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9) Newt Transcriptome Offers Insight Into Tissue Regeneration
Science News, Feb. 18, 2013 — Scientists have identified protein families expressed during tissue regeneration in newts, providing the groundwork for research into whether particular sets of genes are used for the purpose. The transcriptome -- the map of all RNA molecules -- of the newt is published this week in BioMed Central's open access journal Genome Biology. Notophthalmus viridescens is a useful model in regenerative medicine, thanks to its ability to regenerate tissue, and this data gives insights into the mechanisms behind this process.
N. viridescens, the common newt, is native to North America, and an urodelian amphibian. Newt and salamander genomes are enormous; currently too big to sequence, but their potential to regenerate entire limbs, along with parts of the central nervous system, has fascinated scientists for over 200 years. Thomas Braun, Thilo Borchardt at the Max Planck Institutes, Patagonis Tsonis at the University of Dayton and their colleagues sequenced a collection of healthy and regenerated tissues from newts, and converged them into one comprehensive transcriptome. Their analysis identified 826 proteins specific for urodeles, and several newly identified proteins that they believe may play important roles in regeneration process unique for urodeles. Their data also outline genes that appear only in regenerating, but not uninjured material, which will be of interest in regenerative medicine.
The transcriptome is not complete, but serves as a matrix for further analyses. The authors believe that their findings represent only the tip of the iceberg: 'Our data provide the groundwork for mechanistic experiments to answer the question whether urodeles utilize proprietary sets of genes for tissue regeneration.' They continue: 'The newly established de novo transcriptome [...] will be an indispensable resource for a better understanding of regenerative events in newts and facilitate the identifications of molecules [...] that control this fascinating process.'
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Top 3 books have been heavily discounted.
Firefly Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians, 2nd Edition, General Editor Chris Mattison, 240 glossy pages, Oversize Book Once $50.00 - Now $30.00 Plus $12.00 S&H (Only 3 copies Left)
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Albino pythons, endangered lizards and other reptiles are the currency of an underworld as dangerous and lucrative as the drug trade. Freelance writer Christy's debut is an enthusiastic chronicle of the rise and fall of a lizard kingpin and the federal agent who pursued him. Mike Van Nostrand inherited Strictly Reptiles, an import-export business in Florida, from his father, Ray, turning it into a multimillion-dollar smuggling operation. Van Nostrand imported reptiles of all shapes and sizes, usually concealed in the suitcases or clothing of his mules, and sold them to collectors and pet stores. He exploited loopholes in the international treaty on endangered-species trade and paid off corrupt officials._____________
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Invasive Pythons in the United States- Ecology of an Introduced Predator
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Re: Herp- Digest Newsletter

Postby Philsuma » Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:06 am

Volume # 13 Issue # 8 2/28/13
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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NEW BOOK
Life in a Shell: A Physiologist’s View of a Turtles, by Donald C. Jackson
Now in Paperback- $18.95 plus $4.00 for S&H in the US (Overseas email us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org 192 pages, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches, 11 halftones, 12 line illustrations (On how to order see very bottom of the e-newsletter.)
Trundling along in essentially the same form for some 220 million years, turtles have seen dinosaurs come and go, mammals emerge, and humankind expand its dominion. Is it any wonder the persistent reptile bested the hare? In this engaging book physiologist Donald C. Jackson shares a lifetime of observation of this curious creature, allowing us a look under the shell of an animal at once so familiar and so strange.
Here we discover how the turtle’s proverbial slowness helps it survive a long, cold winter under ice. How the shell not only serves as a protective home but also influences such essential functions as buoyancy control, breathing, and surviving remarkably long periods without oxygen, and how many other physiological features help define this unique animal. Jackson offers insight into what exactly it’s like to live inside a shell—to carry the heavy carapace on land and in water, to breathe without an expandable ribcage, to have sex with all that body armor intervening.
Along the way we also learn something about the process of scientific discovery—how the answer to one question leads to new questions, how a chance observation can change the direction of study, and above all how new research always builds on the previous work of others. A clear and informative exposition of physiological concepts using the turtle as a model organism, the book is as interesting for what it tells us about scientific investigation as it is for its deep and detailed understanding of how the enduring turtle “works.”
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“The Most Comprehensive Turtle Book.”
TURTLES, TORTOISES AND TERRAPINS- A Natural History -Revised, Expanded and Updated by Ronald Orenstein, 448 pages, that’s 150 more than the first edition, 9" X 11",more than 300 full color photographs, range maps, bibliography, index
AND YES EVEN IF YOU HAVE COPIES OF THE FIRST EDITION YOU SHOULD GET THE 2ND EDITION, IT’S A WHOLE NEW BOOK.
$59.95 USD plus $12.00 for S&H in US, overseas please contact us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1) Petition to Save Blanding’s Turtle
2) Plan to Rid Guam of Snake Invaders
3) Necrophilia the Way Forward for Some Frogs?
4) Alligators Sport Always-Erect, Hidden Penises, Researcher Finds
5) Breeding conservation alliances: Cooperation between key individuals and institutions can make a world of difference for species conservation activities.
6) Two New Species of Salamander Discovered in Colombia as Deadly Fungus Detected for First Time
7) Sexual Dimorphism In Relative Digit Length In Lizards and Frogs
8) Pacific Leatherbacks Sea Turtles Could be Extinct in 20 Years
9) A Game Plan for Climate Change
10) Franken-Tadpoles' See With Eyes on Their Backs
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RAFETUS: The Curve of Extinction
by Peter C. H. Pritchard
In this, Pritchard’s eleventh book, he tells the incredible story of the world’s rarest turtle, Rafetus swinhoei, a true giant of the chelonian world. This freshwater Loch Ness Monster, is represented by a single mystical giant living in Lake Hoan Kiem in downtown Hanoi, a juvenile in Dong Mo, perhaps a few specimens living in the shadows of deep lakes in nature, and a large adult pair who lived alone as zoo specimens for more than fifty years, separated by thousands of miles. By a miraculous feat of politics, ingenuity, and human labor, these two individuals were brought together for the purpose of saving the species. In RAFETUS: The Curve of Extinction, Dr. Pritchard presents a story of looming loss, but also of hope..$65 + $6.00 Overseas contact us for S&H info. SEE BOTTOM OF THIS ISSUE ON HOW TO ORDER. LIMITED NUMBER AVAILABLE
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HEALTH CARE AND REHABILITATION OF TURTLES AND TORTOISES
An excellent, must have for every turtle owner and every turtle & wildlife rehabilitator
Covers everything from general information such as: turtle anatomy, diet, stress, hibernation, brumation, outdoor and indoor enclosures and more --- to over 250 pages on shell fractures, tube feeding, bacterial and viral diseases, parasites, diagnostics, antibiotics in chelonians, and with supporting photographs. The author took great time and care to translate her and others experiences in turtle rehabilitation without the jargon, so all turtle owners enthusiasts can understand.
Full-color photographs. (2012) 393 pp. Softcover, by Amanda Ebenhack $39.85 plus $6.00 S&H see below on how to order (Overseas email us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org or S&H price)
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1) Petition to Save Blanding’s Turtle
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/511/143/ ... m=20508023
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2) Plan to Rid Guam of Snake Invaders
Associated Press, Sunday, February 24, 2013, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam
Dead mice laced with painkillers are about to rain down on Guam's jungle canopy. They are scientists' prescription for a headache that has caused misery to the tiny U.S. territory for more than 60 years: the brown tree snake.
Most of Guam's native bird species are extinct because of the snake, which reached the island's thick jungles by hitching rides from the South Pacific on U.S. military ships shortly after World War II. There may be 2 million of the reptiles on Guam now, devastating wildlife, biting residents and even knocking out electricity by slithering onto power lines.
More than 3,000 miles away, environmental officials in Hawaii have long feared a similar invasion - which in their case likely would be a "snakes on a plane" scenario. That would cost the state many vulnerable species and billions of dollars, but the risk will fall if Guam's air-drop strategy succeeds.
"We are taking this to a new phase," said Daniel Vice, assistant state director of U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services in Hawaii, Guam and the Pacific Islands. "There really is no other place in the world with a snake problem like Guam."
Brown tree snakes are generally a few feet long but can grow to be more than 10 feet in length. They use venom on their prey, but it is not lethal to humans.
The solution to the headache, fittingly enough, is acetaminophen, the active ingredient in painkillers such as Tylenol.
The upcoming mice drop is targeted to hit snakes near Guam's sprawling Andersen Air Force Base, which is surrounded by heavy foliage. Using helicopters, the dead neonatal mice will be dropped by hand, one by one.
To keep the baited mice from dropping all the way to the ground, where they could be eaten by other animals or attract insects as they rot, researchers have developed a flotation device with streamers designed to catch in the branches of the forest, where the snakes live and feed.
Experts say the impact on other species will be minimal, particularly since the snakes have themselves wiped out the birds that might have been most at risk.
The mouse drop is set to start in April or May.
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3) Necrophilia the Way Forward for Some Frogs?
Based on article in the - Journal of Natural History Vol. 46 Issue 47-48, 2012
Sex is a risky business for many animals. Those who take part in ‘explosive breeding' - where many males gather and compete for a small number of females over a few days - have it particularly tough. Photo credit Thiago Izzo.
Functional necrophilia: A profitable anuran reproductive strategy
February 2013. Sex is a risky business for many animals. Those who take part in ‘explosive breeding' - where many males gather and compete for a small number of females over a few days - have it particularly tough. Males can become exhausted from the competition and the search for a scarce mate, or from trying to dislodge other males from receptive females. The females themselves can be unintentionally crushed, drowned or simply exhausted under the weight of their many suitors.

Functional necrophilia
But now scientists have discovered that the tiny Central Amazonian frog Rhinella proboscidea has developed an effective, if unsavoury, way of making the most out explosive breeding despite its inherent dangers. Writing in a recent issue of the Journal of Natural History, Brazilian researchers have observed the frog indulging in what they call a ‘functional necrophilia strategy'. In other words, males of the species have been observed extracting oocytes from the abdomens of unfortunate females killed in mating struggles, and then fertilizing them.
Waste not want not
While unpleasant from a human viewpoint, from an evolutionary perspective taking advantage of oocytes from dead females minimises the losses both partners can experience as a result of explosive breeding. The male is able to breed successfully despite not having had access to a live female or expending too much energy in the battle to secure one; the female's eggs are fertilised even though she herself has expired. The existence of this strategy also suggests that there may be possible selection in favour of stronger and more persistent males in explosive breeders; these sorts of males may be not be advantageous to the females themselves - and indeed their determined behaviour can often kill them - but the ‘functional necrophilia' strategy ensures that the species continues despite a lack of live females.
The authors write that ‘although necrophilia has been reported in other species of anurans, this may be the first case where the necrophilia brings a direct fitness gain, generating descendants. In contrast to the conclusions of other studies, necrophilia is not a behavioural mistake in R. proboscidea, but is rather a functional behaviour in terms of fitness, with positive effects on the reproductive success of both males and females.' This study is a fascinating glimpse into a species' struggle to survive under the rain-forest canopy - however strange it might seem to us.
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4) Alligators Sport Always-Erect, Hidden Penises, Researcher Finds
Alligators use bizarre, permanently erect penises that pop out of their bodies and are sucked back in just as quickly.
By Tia Ghose, Live Science , 2/24/13
Unlike many other reptiles and mammals, alligators sport permanently erect penises that hide inside their bodies, new research reveals.
The reptiles sport fully erect penises made of tough, fibrous tissue that shoot out of their bodies and get pulled back in just as quickly, according to the study, which is detailed in the March issue of the journal Anatomical Record.
"It is really interesting and really bizarre, very different from anything we've seen in vertebrates," said study author Diane Kelly, an anatomist at the University of Massachusetts.

Alligator mystery
Very little was known about how alligators mate, Kelly told LiveScience. In 1915, one scientist briefly described the alligator penis in a paper, but "at the end of it he actually says something to the effect of 'I have no idea how this thing works,'" Kelly said. [The Weirdest Animal Penises]
To find out, Kelly procured a few dead American alligators from the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana, one of which was more than 13 feet (4 meters) long. She dissected the alligator and was surprised at what she found.
Hidden inside the alligator's waste and reproductive orifice, known as a cloaca (which is Latin for "sewer"), was a nearly 2.75-inch (7-centimeter)-long, pasty white phallus.
When she dissected the penile tissue, she found it was filled with a stiff, fibrous material called collagen. Kelly then filled the penis with saline fluid. In mammals, turtles and birds, inflating the vascular region of a penis with saline enlarges it, allowing anatomists to see how the penis becomes erect.
"I tried it with the alligator and I got no length change, I got no diameter change. I got nothing," Kelly said. "It became very clear to me right then and there that there was something very different."
Kelly surmised that the vascular space inside the alligator penis was so full of collagen that it was simply too stiff to inflate.
To see how it popped in and out of the alligator's body, she tugged on various tendons and muscles in the cloaca region and found one set of muscles that caused the penis to shoot out. Another set of tendons attaches to the base of the penis like rubber bands, she said.
"As soon as those muscles relax, the penis gets whipped back into its original position."
Kelly isn't sure whether the penis comes out only during mating or also at other times, though she thinks it's the former. Since crocodiles and alligators are closely related, crocodile penises probably work the same way, she said, though she and other scientists have never studied the crocodile penis.
As a next step, Kelly is teaming up with researcher Brandon Moore at Louisiana Tech University, who is studying the ejaculatory system of the alligator.
"He was doing the glans end, and I was doing the rectal end, and we figured between the two of us we can do a really good job of getting the whole thing described."
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5) Breeding conservation alliances: Cooperation between key individuals and institutions can make a world of difference for species conservation activities.
Posted by IUCN | February 18th, 2013 By Emily Wick, Communications and Technology Administrator, Conservation Breeding Specialist Group of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission.

Cooperation between key individuals and institutions can make a world of difference for species conservation activities. As difficult as it is to get all the players in the same room – especially when they’re conservationists with busy schedules – bringing people together is only half the battle.
The real challenge is to encourage understanding of multiple perspectives on complex conservation questions and to promote shared decision-making among stakeholders.
Workshops facilitated by the Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) are designed to do just that, and history shows that conservation alliances form as a direct result. Some well-known consortia we’ve played a role in forming include the Madagascar Fauna Group, Pan-African Sanctuary Alliance, Turtle Survival Alliance, and the Amphibian Ark
Looking ahead to the next four years, we want to continue to use our position as a link between the diverse and capable communities that are already hard at work conserving nature, and provide platforms for developing strategic conservation consortia.
With that in mind, and in collaboration with John Fa of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, we are developing an exciting partnership between zoos and the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE). AZE, a consortium of biodiversity conservation organizations, has defined places around the world that house Critically Endangered and Endangered species whose survival depends on the single site they inhabit.
Threats like climate change and habitat loss guarantee the imminent extinction of these species unless swift action is taken. Since CBSG works closely with both the zoo community and field conservationists, we got to thinking: what if zoos used their resources—living collections, expertise, space, communication platform, and financial support—to safeguard AZE species and their habitats?
Many zoos and zoo organizations are already AZE members, and a number of AZE species are already the focus of zoo conservation initiatives. CBSG plans to draw attention to connections that are already in place and serve as a link between the two communities by facilitating further collaboration. We are optimistic that a partnership like this could help prevent extinctions that otherwise would occur right before our eyes.
The CBSG is a global network of conservation professionals dedicated to saving threatened species by increasing the effectiveness of conservation efforts worldwide.
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6) Two New Species of Salamander Discovered in Colombia as Deadly Fungus Detected for First Time

Chytridiomycosis detected for the first time in north-east Colombia

Wildlife Extra, February 2013. A team of young researchers from Colombia have recently found two new species of salamander that were discovered during a project supported by the Conservation Leadership Programme and Save Our Species.
The two new salamanders belong to the genus Bolitoglossa, otherwise known as tropical climbing or web-footed salamanders. One of the salamanders (B. leandrae) has been named after an 11-year old girl who became friends with the team whilst they conducted their fieldwork. "Leandra grew fascinated by the world of amphibians," explains team leader Aldemar Acevedo. "She was eager to learn about our work and became an excellent spokesperson for nature conservation among the community."
Small salamander
Bolitoglossa leandrae is a relatively small salamander (its body measures roughly 2.5 cm in length, about the size of a 50 pence, 20 cent or US quarter coin) with a narrow head and long, slender tail. Males are dark brown with thin yellow stripes along the length of the body and females are reddish brown.
Bolitoglossa tamaense is slightly longer than B. leandrae (the body of the longest specimen measured approximately 5 cm, or the same as the height of a credit card) and has a broad head and relatively long body and legs. A number of different colourations and patterns were recorded, but the body is generally brown or dark red, and the tail and limbs can be dark brown, red, orange or yellow.
Colombia-Venezuela border
The new findings were made during the first amphibian census to be carried out in Tamá Bi-National Park which straddles the Colombia-Venezuela border. In addition to the two new species, the team recorded three frog species (from the genus Pristimantis) that had not previously been found in Colombia, and eight other species that are new records for north-east Colombia. In total, the team recorded 34 amphibian species, up from just five species previously recorded in the area.
In their journal article, the authors highlight the need for more field and lab-based research to improve our understanding of amphibian diversity, and for more practical conservation projects to take place in the region.
Tamá Bi-National Park
"For decades, the natural landscape of Tamá Bi-National Park was subject to deforestation, agricultural pressures and illegal crop-growing so during our project we began working with local communities and environmental organisations to encourage good land stewardship and the development of adequate conservation plans" said Aldemar. "Local communities have responded to our call and we are starting to see a decrease in deforestation, especially in forest patches inhabited by Bolitoglossa leandrae."
Chytridiomycosis
It's not all good news, however, as the team detected chytridiomycosis (a virulent fungus which kills off amphibians) for the first time in north-east Colombia and it was found on 23 of the park's 34 species. If left unchecked, this could result in population declines and perhaps even local extinctions.
To try and control the rapid spread of the fungus, the team ran several biosafety workshops for rangers and community members. In the future, the team plans to conduct further research to measure the success of their biosafety workshops and they are currently looking for funding to kick-start reforestation programmes in areas of habitat that would be suitable for amphibians.
The finding was published an article in the journal Zootaxa
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7) Sexual Dimorphism In Relative Digit Length In Lizards and Frogs
Posted on January 23, 2013 by Jonathan Losos, Anoleannals.org

In recent years, a quirky area of research has developed in which researchers measure the length of the second and fourth digits on the hand and foot, calculate the ratio (2d:4d) and then compare this ratio between the sexes. Surprisingly, in many species there are consistent differences between males and females. In mammals, that ratio is smaller for males, whereas in birds, the opposite occurs. But few studies have looked at the other vertebrate classes.
With this in mind, Direnzo and Stynoski recently calculated digit ratios for several common Costa Rica anoles and frogs. The abstract of their paper, published in Anatomical Record last year, tells the story:
“It is now well documented that androgen and estrogen signaling during early development cause a sexual dimorphism in second-to-fourth digit length ratio (2D:4D). It is also well documented that males of mammalian species have a smaller 2D:4D than females. Although there are discrepancies among 2D:4D studies in birds, the consensus is that birds exhibit the opposite pattern with males having a larger 2D:4D than females. The literature currently lacks substantial information regarding the phylogenetic pattern of this trait in amphibians and reptiles. In this study, we examined 2D:4D in two species of frogs (Oophaga pumilio and Craugastor bransfordii) and two species of lizards (Anolis humilis and Anolis limifrons) to determine the existence and the pattern of the sexual dimorphism. Male O. pumilio and C. bransfordii displayed larger 2D:4D than females in at least one of their two forelimbs. Male A. humilis had larger 2D:4D than females in both hindlimbs, but smaller 2D:4D than females in both forelimbs. Male A. limifrons may also have smaller 2D:4D than females in the right forelimb. Finally, digit ratios were sometimes positively related to body length, suggesting allometric growth. Overall, our results support the existence of the 2D:4D sexual dimorphism in amphibians and lizards and add to the knowledge of 2D:4D trait patterning among tetrapods.”
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8) Pacific Leatherbacks Sea Turtles Could be Extinct in 20 Years
Released: 2/26/2013 1:50 PM EST
Source Newsroom: University of Alabama at Birmingham
more news from this source
Newswise — An international team led by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has documented a 78 percent decline in the number of nests of the critically endangered leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) at the turtle’s last stronghold in the Pacific Ocean.
The study, published online today in the Ecological Society of America’s scientific online journal Ecosphere, reveals leatherback nests at Jamursba Medi Beach in Papua Barat, Indonesia – which accounts for 75 percent of the total leatherback nesting in the western Pacific – have fallen from a peak of 14,455 in 1984 to a low of 1,532 in 2011. Less than 500 leatherbacks now nest at this site annually.
Thane Wibbels, Ph.D., a professor of reproductive biology at UAB and member of a research team that includes scientists from State University of Papua (UNIPA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Marine Fisheries Service and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia, says the largest marine turtle in the world could soon vanish.
“If the decline continues, within 20 years it will be difficult if not impossible for the leatherback to avoid extinction,” said Wibbels, who has studied marine turtles since 1980. “That means the number of turtles would be so low that the species could not make a comeback.
“The leatherback is one of the most intriguing animals in nature, and we are watching it head towards extinction in front of our eyes,” added Wibbels.
Leatherback turtles can grow to six feet long and weigh as much as 2,000 pounds. They are able to dive to depths of nearly 4,000 feet and can make trans-Pacific migrations from Indonesia to the U.S. Pacific coast and back again.
While it is hard to imagine that a turtle so large and so durable can be on the verge of extinction, Ricardo Tapilatu, the research team’s lead scientist who is a Ph.D. student and Fulbright Scholar in the UAB Department of Biology, points to the leatherback’s trans-Pacific migration, where they face the prevalent danger of being caught and killed in fisheries.
“They can migrate more than 7,000 miles and travel through the territory of at least 20 countries, so this is a complex international problem,” Tapilatu said. “It is extremely difficult to comprehensively enforce fishing regulations throughout the Pacific.”
The team, along with paper co-author Peter Dutton, Ph.D., discovered thousands of nests laid during the boreal winter just a few kilometers away from the known nesting sites, but their excitement was short-lived.
“We were optimistic for this population when year round nesting was discovered in Wermon Beach, but we now have found out that nesting on that beach appears to be declining at a similar rate as Jamursba Medi,” said Dutton, head of the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center’s Marine Turtle Genetics Program.
The study has used year-round surveys of leatherback turtle nesting areas since 2005, and it is the most extensive research on the species to date. The team identified four major problems facing leatherback turtles: nesting beach predators, such as pigs and dogs that were introduced to the island and eat the turtle eggs; rising sand temperatures that can kill the eggs or prevent the production of male hatchlings; the danger of being caught by fisheries during migrations; and harvesting of adults and eggs for food by islanders.
Tapilatu, a native of western Papua, Indonesia, has studied leatherback turtles and worked on their conservation since 2004. His efforts have been recognized by NOAA, and he will head the leatherback conservation program in Indonesia once he earns his doctorate from UAB and returns to Papua.
He has worked to educate locals and limit the harvesting of adults and eggs. His primary focus today is protecting the nesting females, eggs and hatchlings. A leatherback lays up to 10 nests each season, more than any other turtle species. Tapilatu is designing ways to optimize egg survival and hatchling production by limiting their exposure to predators and heat through an extensive beach management program.
“If we relocate the nests from the warmest portion of the beach to our egg hatcheries, and build shades for nests in other warm areas, then we will increase hatching success to 80 percent or more,” said Tapilatu.
“The international effort has attempted to develop a science-based nesting beach management plan by evaluating and addressing the factors that affect hatching success such as high sand temperatures, erosion, feral pig predation and relocating nests to maximize hatchling output,” said Manjula Tiwari, a researcher at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif.
Wibbels, who is also the Ph.D. advisor for Tapilatu, says that optimizing hatchling production is a key component to leatherback survival, especially considering the limited number of hatchlings who survive to adulthood.
“Only one hatchling out of 1,000 makes it to adulthood, so taking out an adult makes a significant difference on the population,” Wibbels said. “It is essentially the same as killing 1,000 hatchlings.”
The research team believes that beach management will help to decrease the annual decline in the number of leatherback nests, but protection of the leatherbacks in waters throughout the Pacific is a prerequisite for their survival and recovery. Despite their prediction for leatherback extinction, the scientists are hopeful this species could begin rebounding over the next 20 years if effective management strategies are implemented.
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9) A Game Plan for Climate Change
Pilot project helps scientists, managers, and conservationists pro-actively prepare for a changing climate
Researchers have successfully piloted a process that enables natural resource managers to take action to conserve particular wildlife, plants and ecosystems as climate changes.
The Adaptation for Conservation Targets (ACT) framework is a practical approach to assessing how future changes in air and water temperatures, precipitation, stream flows, snowpack, and other environmental conditions might affect natural resources. ACT enables scientists and managers to work hand-in-hand to consider how management actions may need to be adjusted to address those impacts.
"As acceptance of the importance of climate change in influencing conservation and natural resource management increases, ACT can help practitioners connect the dots and integrate climate change into their decisions," said WCS Conservation Scientist, Dr. Molly Cross. "Most importantly, the ACT process allows practitioners to move beyond just talking about impacts to address the 'What do we do about it?' question."
The ACT framework was tested during a series of workshops at four southwestern United States landscapes (see map) that brought together 109 natural resource managers, scientists, and conservation practitioners from 44 local, state, tribal and federal agencies and organizations. The workshops were organized by the Southwest Climate Change Initiative, representing The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS), the Western Water Assessment, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
One example comes from the Bear River basin in Utah, where workshop participants looked at how warmer air and water temperatures and decreased summer stream flow might affect native Bonneville cutthroat trout habitat and populations. The group strategized that restoring the ability of fish to move between the main stem of the Bear River and cooler tributaries, protecting cold-water habitat, and lowering the depth of outflow from reservoirs to reduce downstream water temperatures could help maintain or increase trout population numbers as climate changes.
Participants in another workshop considered the impacts of reduced snow-pack and greater variability in precipitation on stream flows in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico. To maintain sufficient water in the system and support aquatic species and riparian vegetation, attendees identified options such as restoring beaver to streams, building artificial structures to increase the storage of water in floodplains, and thinning the density of trees in nearby forests to maximize snowpack retention.
"The ACT process helps workshop participants move beyond the paralysis many feel when tackling what is a new or even intimidating topic by creating a step-by-step process for considering climate change that draws on familiar conservation planning tools," Cross said. "By combining traditional conservation planning with an assessment of climate change impacts that considers multiple future scenarios, ACT helps practitioners lay out how conservation goals and actions may need to be modified to account for climate change."
The results will help land managers as well as people. "Climate change impacts livelihoods and threatens the water supplies of many of our communities," says Terry Sullivan, The Nature Conservancy's New Mexico state director. "We hope that this tool will be utilized to help make decisions which will lead to healthy and sustainable watersheds, and ultimately sustain water supplies for farms and cities."
ACT workshops have been used to launch climate change planning at 11 locations in the United States for more than 15 wildlife, plant, and ecosystem targets (for details see http://www.wcsnorthamerica.org/Conserva ... nning.aspx). Feedback given by workshop attendees indicates that the ACT approach was successful in increasing participants' capacity to address climate change in their conservation work.
"We need to see more practitioners applying approaches like ACT if biological diversity and ecosystem services are to be maintained in a rapidly changing world," Cross added.
Results from the workshops are published in the February 2013 volume of the journal Conservation Biology (available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... 1954.x/pdf). Authors include Molly Cross of WCS, Patrick McCarthy and David Gori of TNC, Gregg Garfin of the University of Arizona; and Carolyn Enquist of the U.S.A. National Phenology Network and The Wildlife Society.
The ACT planning process is described in detail in the September 2012 edition of Environmental Management (available at http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10 ... 012-9893-7). Authors include:
• Molly Cross, WCS;
• Erika Zavaleta, University of California, Santa Cruz;
• Dominique Bachelet, Conservation Biology Institute;
• Marjorie Brooks, Southern Illinois University;
• Carolyn Enquist, The Wildlife Society and the U.S.A. National Phenology Network;
• Erica Fleischman, University of California, Davis;
• Lisa Graumlich, University of Washington;
• Craig Groves, TNC;
• Lee Hannah, Conservation International;
• Lara Hansen, EcoAdapt;
• Greg Hayward, U.S. Forest Service;
• Marni Koopman, Geos Institute;
• Joshua Lawler, University of Washington;
• Jay Malcolm, University of Toronto;
• John Nordgren, Kresge Foundation;
• Brian Petersen, Michigan State University;
• Erika Rowland, WCS;
• Daniel Scott, University of Waterloo;
• Sarah Shafer, U.S. Geological Survey;
• Rebecca Shaw, Environmental Defense Fund; and
• Gary Tabor, Center for Large Landscape Conservation.

Contact: Scott Smith
ssmith@wcs.org
718-220-3698
Wildlife Conservation Society
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10) Franken-Tadpoles' See With Eyes on Their Backs
by Michael Price on 27 February 2013, In the swamp of the blind, the frog with one eye surgically attached to its back is king. Researchers have found a way to transplant an eyeball onto a blind tadpole's spine that confers some degree of vision—the first evidence that functional sight can occur so far from the brain. Such research promises to give scientists a better understanding of how transplanted tissue connects to the nervous system, paving the way for improved regenerative therapies in humans.

Scientists have moved frog eyes around before. In 2003, researchers transplanted them at various points around the head. The out-of-place organs extended information-transmitting nerve fibers known as axons into the animal's brain. But scientists haven't been able to determine whether such transplanted eyes are fully functional.
Now, developmental biologists from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, have created a novel way to test whether transplanted eyes see as well as to determine how far away from the brain visual ability can extend. The study's lead author, Michael Levin, and his colleague Douglas Blackiston took tadpoles of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) whose eyes had been surgically removed and transplanted "donor" eyeballs—one per tadpole—along various points on the back. In total, the researchers operated on 230 tadpoles and compared their performance in a light reaction test with similar numbers of intact tadpoles and blinded tadpoles without transplants.
To determine how the animals reacted to changes in light, the team placed the tadpoles individually into petri dishes that could be illuminated by either red or blue light. While under red light, the tadpoles were docile and swam slowly. Under blue light, though, they moved much more rapidly.
Here, the researchers found something strange. The blind tadpoles with no eyes still reacted when the light changed. "You have a flashlight and you shine it on the [blind] tadpoles and they take off, they zoom around the dish," Levin says. Eyes, it seemed, were unnecessary for responding to light.
Because changing the light's color couldn't indicate whether the tadpoles' transplanted eyes were functional, the researchers turned to a more sophisticated experiment. They made the petri dishes half red and half blue. Tadpoles that ventured into the red portion received a mild electric shock, and Levin and Blackiston recorded which animals eventually learned to avoid the red side.
Although they could react to changes in light, the blind tadpoles never learned to avoid being shocked. For them, Levin thinks "there's a kind of twitchy program going on" in which photosensitive cells—the researchers aren't sure which ones—bypass the brain and directly spur the muscles into movement. Thus, these automatic impulses can't help blind animals learn.
In contrast, about 10% of tadpoles with transplanted eyes were able to learn to avoid the red side of the petri dish, compared with about 40% of the tadpoles with intact eyes. Looking closer at the transplant recipients, Levin and Blackiston noticed differences in the ways the eyes formed axonal connections. When new tissue is introduced, Levin explains, it sends out axons to make connections with host tissue. In these tadpoles, the eyes' axons almost universally connected with either the spinal cord or the gut. Only tadpoles whose transplanted eyes formed connections with their spinal cord managed to learn ; eyes that instead connected to the gut were apparently useless. The researchers report their findings online today in The Journal of Experimental Biology.
Levin says the research is an important step in scientists' understanding of what makes a transplanted organ functional and how information flows between these organs and the nervous system, including the brain. There are obvious differences between a human's spinal cord and a frog's, he says, but "there are no fundamental differences, meaning I don't see any reason [similar experiments] would not eventually work [in humans]," Levin says. Humans might not want spare eyeballs on their backs, but the same technique could be useful for growing new organs to replace damaged ones, or for developing therapies to repair damaged nerve connections.
Levin's and Blackiston's findings are important because they demonstrate for the first time that animals can learn from sensory information provided by an organ transplanted to a non-native position, says Karen Echeverri, a developmental biologist at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, who primarily studies limb regeneration in salamanders. "That the animals do show a learned response is very interesting," she says. "It's pretty convincing."
William Harris, a neuroscientist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, adds in an e-mail that through studies like this one, scientists "can learn to understand weird inputs," which is critical to building technologies like bionic hands.
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Top 3 books have been heavily discounted.
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Albino pythons, endangered lizards and other reptiles are the currency of an underworld as dangerous and lucrative as the drug trade. Freelance writer Christy's debut is an enthusiastic chronicle of the rise and fall of a lizard kingpin and the federal agent who pursued him. Mike Van Nostrand inherited Strictly Reptiles, an import-export business in Florida, from his father, Ray, turning it into a multimillion-dollar smuggling operation. Van Nostrand imported reptiles of all shapes and sizes, usually concealed in the suitcases or clothing of his mules, and sold them to collectors and pet stores. He exploited loopholes in the international treaty on endangered-species trade and paid off corrupt officials._____________
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Invasive Pythons in the United States- Ecology of an Introduced Predator
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Volume # 13 Issue # 9 3/7/13
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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NEW BOOK
Life in a Shell: A Physiologist’s View of a Turtles, by Donald C. Jackson
Now in Paperback- $18.95 plus $4.00 for S&H in the US (Overseas email us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org 192 pages, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches, 11 halftones, 12 line illustrations (On how to order see very bottom of the e-newsletter.)
Trundling along in essentially the same form for some 220 million years, turtles have seen dinosaurs come and go, mammals emerge, and humankind expand its dominion. Is it any wonder the persistent reptile bested the hare? In this engaging book physiologist Donald C. Jackson shares a lifetime of observation of this curious creature, allowing us a look under the shell of an animal at once so familiar and so strange.
Here we discover how the turtle’s proverbial slowness helps it survive a long, cold winter under ice. How the shell not only serves as a protective home but also influences such essential functions as buoyancy control, breathing, and surviving remarkably long periods without oxygen, and how many other physiological features help define this unique animal. Jackson offers insight into what exactly it’s like to live inside a shell—to carry the heavy carapace on land and in water, to breathe without an expandable ribcage, to have sex with all that body armor intervening.
Along the way we also learn something about the process of scientific discovery—how the answer to one question leads to new questions, how a chance observation can change the direction of study, and above all how new research always builds on the previous work of others. A clear and informative exposition of physiological concepts using the turtle as a model organism, the book is as interesting for what it tells us about scientific investigation as it is for its deep and detailed understanding of how the enduring turtle “works.”
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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1) Eric Goode on Charlie Rose
2) Job- Horned Lizard Occupancy study in the Yuma Desert of Arizona
3) Starry Frog is NOT Extinct After all!
4) Deadly Fungus Detected in Southeast Asia's Amphibian Trade
5) Lizards Facing Mass Extinction from Climate Change
6) Stressed-Out Tadpoles Grow Larger Tails to Escape Predators

SPECIAL SECTION ON HOBART SMITH WHO PASSED AWAY EARLY THIS WEEK AT 100

These articles were written and published in “Herpetological Conservation and Biology” in honor of Hobart Smith reaching 100, But they serve well as an obituary for you to understand him and appreciate his life work.

1) PIONEER OF HERPETOLOGY AT HIS CENTURY MARK: HOBART M. SMITH
2) HOBART M. SMITH TURNS 100
3) SOME NOTES ON THE LAST HUNDRED YEARS AND THE NEXT STAGES IN THE EVOLUTION OF HERPETOLOGY by HOBART M. SMITH*

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RAFETUS: The Curve of Extinction
by Peter C. H. Pritchard
In this, Pritchard’s eleventh book, he tells the incredible story of the world’s rarest turtle, Rafetus swinhoei, a true giant of the chelonian world. This freshwater Loch Ness Monster, is represented by a single mystical giant living in Lake Hoan Kiem in downtown Hanoi, a juvenile in Dong Mo, perhaps a few specimens living in the shadows of deep lakes in nature, and a large adult pair who lived alone as zoo specimens for more than fifty years, separated by thousands of miles. By a miraculous feat of politics, ingenuity, and human labor, these two individuals were brought together for the purpose of saving the species. In RAFETUS: The Curve of Extinction, Dr. Pritchard presents a story of looming loss, but also of hope..$65 + $6.00 Overseas contact us for S&H info. SEE BOTTOM OF THIS ISSUE ON HOW TO ORDER. LIMITED NUMBER AVAILABLE
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HEALTH CARE AND REHABILITATION OF TURTLES AND TORTOISES
An excellent, must have for every turtle owner and every turtle & wildlife rehabilitator
Covers everything from general information such as: turtle anatomy, diet, stress, hibernation, brumation, outdoor and indoor enclosures and more --- to over 250 pages on shell fractures, tube feeding, bacterial and viral diseases, parasites, diagnostics, antibiotics in chelonians, and with supporting photographs. The author took great time and care to translate her and others experiences in turtle rehabilitation without the jargon, so all turtle owners enthusiasts can understand.
Full-color photographs. (2012) 393 pp. Softcover, by Amanda Ebenhack $39.85 plus $6.00 S&H see below on how to order (Overseas email us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org or S&H price)
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1) Eric Goode on Charlie Rose those missed his 15 minutes of fame can see it at http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12789
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2) Job- Horned Lizard Occupancy study in the Yuma Desert of Arizona, Internships last much of the summer and pay 11$/hourly for newcomers and 12$/hourly for returning interns. A great opportunity to get your feet wet in lizard work and become familiar with some pretty amazing Sonoran desert herps.

Please see the announcement at the following website and forward all information requests to Milani Barron at (623) 236-7319.

http://www.azgfd.gov/inside_azgfd/edits ... hips.shtml

See you out there!

Dan

Daniel J. Leavitt, PhD
Research Biologist/Senior Project Manager
Field Operations Wildlife Contracts
Arizona Game and Fish Department
5000 W. Carefree Highway
Phoenix, Arizona 85086
(520) 609 2164
(602) 942 3000 x. 7584
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3) Starry Frog is NOT Extinct After all!
Monogobay.com 3/8/13 -In 1853 Edward Frederick Kelaart, a physician and naturalist, collected a strange frog on the island of Sri Lanka then a British colony known as Ceylon. The specimen was a large shrub frog (about 2 inches or 5.5 centimeters long) with black-outlined white specks on lime-green skin. He dubbed it "starry" after its pale specks, but that was last anyone heard of it. Even the holotype—the body of the amphibian collected by Kelaart—went missing. Fast forward nearly 160 years—two world wars, Sri Lanka's independence, and a man on the moon—when a recent expedition into Sri Lanka's Peak Wilderness rediscovered a beguiling frog with pinkish specks.
"These quite stunning frogs were observed perched on leaves in the canopy. They were slow moving, we collected samples which we thought were new species. But after reviewing past work, [especially] extinct species, it was evident that this was Pseudophilautus stellatus," L.J. Mendis Wickramasinghe told mongabay. Kelaart's starry shrub frog, or Pseudophilautus stellatus, had been re-discovered.
Wickramasinghe, the lead author of the paper announcing the discovery in Zootaxa, says one reason why the starry shrub frog remained undetected for so long was its habitat.
"We worked in [parts of the Peak Wilderness Sanctuary] where previous studies had never taken place, in tough and rugged conditions, so hardly any researchers had actually gone to these sites," he explains.
In all the scientists identified 78 individuals during their surveys, but given its scarcity and likely small habitat, Wickramasinghe believes the species should be listed as Critically Endangered. The species is currently imperiled by expanding tea plantations, illegal gem mining, pollution from religious pilgrims, and forest dieback.
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4) Deadly Fungus Detected in Southeast Asia's Amphibian Trade
Mar. 6, 2013 — A team of scientists led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), revealed in a new study, for the first time, the presence of the pathogenic chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) in amphibians sampled in Singapore. And the American bullfrog may be a central player in the spread of the disease.
The study appears in the current issue of the journal EcoHealth, and is the first to consider the role that Southeast Asia's commercial trade plays in the spread of amphibian pathogens.
Demand for amphibians through local and international trade is high and fueled by use of frogs as pets, food, bait, and as a source of traditional 'medicine.' More than 40 percent of amphibian species are in decline globally due, not only to chytrid fungus, but also overharvesting, competition from invasive species, habitat loss, pollution, and climate change.
In the study, scientists collected samples from 2,389 individual animals in Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Singapore at 51 different sites including farms, locally supplied markets, pet stores, and from the wild.
The molecular testing of samples was led by Dr. Tracie Seimon at WCS's Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory at the Bronx Zoo. Results showed that frogs from Lao PDR and Vietnam tested negative for chytrid. In Cambodia, one frog intended for food tested positive. In addition, 74 animals in Cambodia and Vietnam were screened for ranavirus and tested negative, suggesting that these specific pathogens are not yet a conservation threat in species tested from these countries.
In Singapore, however, 13 samples tested positive for chytrid and represent the first report of chytrid in the territory. Eleven of those samples were collected from four pet stores and the remaining two were taken from amphibians in the wild.
The scientists noted that the chytrid detections were most prevalent in the American bullfrog (Lithobates aka Rana catesbeiana), a common species in the trade and one that is tolerant of chytrid infections.
"Finding chytrid in four of the seven Singaporean pet stores we sampled is cause for concern," said lead author and WCS Scientist Martin Gilbert. "Since the American bullfrog is able to tolerate this pathogen, it may act as a carrier for spreading chytrid to the region when it is imported through commercial trade."
In another alarming discovery, the scientists found that all 497 frogs sampled from 23 frog farms in Vietnam had skin lesions ranging from swelling and inflammation to ulcers and deformed or missing digits in the most severe cases. Disease examination revealed four of the animals had bacteria associated with the lesions that in two cases appeared to have spread to other organs.
While the bacteria and its role as primary or secondary pathogen could not be positively identified, the scientists noted that frog farms could serve as a source of infection for the wider environment.
The study noted that lesions among frogs raised at commercial facilities in Vietnam are of particular concern, in light of the low level of bio-security that exists. All of the farms in the study disposed of untreated wastewater directly into natural watercourses, which becomes an avenue to spread infection to other places and other species.
According to the authors, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) requires its 174 member countries, which include the four countries in this study, to conduct surveillance for chytrid fungus, report confirmed cases, and implement measures to control their spread.
Co-author of the study, Assistant Professor David Bickford from the Department of Biological Sciences at the NUS Faculty of Science, said, "In light of the fact that this emerging infectious disease is now known to be spread by commercial trade, it is in everyone's best interest to eliminate it from the trade in live animals before both the native amphibian populations of Southeast Asia are affected and before it completely decimates the commercial trade and people are unable to make a living. This is not just about the frogs."
The paper concludes, "There is an urgent need to conduct wider surveys of wild amphibians in Southeast Asia to determine the extent and severity of chytrid fungus and other infectious diseases among a range of species, and whether and how these change over time. Studies should focus on differentiating Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis strains that may be endemic to the region from exotic strains that may be introduced through routes including international trade."
Authors of the study include Martin Gilbert of WCS; David Bickford of NUS; Leanne Clark, Arlyne Johnson, Priscilla H. Joyner, Lucy Ogg Keatts, Kongsy Khammavong, Long Nguyễn Văn, Alisa Newton of WCS; Tiffany P. W. Seow of NUS; Scott Roberton, Soubanh Silithammavong of WCS; Sinpakhone Singhalath of the National University of Laos; Angela Yang, and Tracie A. Seimon of WCS.
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5) Lizards Facing Mass Extinction from Climate Change
Mar. 6, 2013 — Climate change could see dozens of lizard species becoming extinct within the next 50 years, according to new research published today. The often one-directional evolutionary adaptation of certain lizard species' reproductive modes could see multiple extinctions as the global temperature increases.
Globally it has been observed that lizards with viviparous reproduction (retention of embryos within the mother's body) are being threatened by changing weather patterns. A new study suggests that the evolution of this mode of reproduction, which is thought to be a key successful adaptation, could, in fact, be the species' downfall under global warming.
Dr Daniel Pincheira-Donoso, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln (UK), is the lead author of the paper detailing these amazing predictions, published today in the scientific journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.
Researchers, including academics from the University of Exeter, investigated the hypothesis that historical invasions of cold climates by Liolaemus lizards -- one of the most diverse groups of vertebrates on earth -- have only been possible due to their evolution to viviparity (live birth) from oviparity (laying eggs). Remarkably, once these species evolve viviparity, the process is mostly irreversible and they remain restricted to such cold climates.
By analysing this evolutionary transition in the lizards' reproductive modes and projecting the future impact of climate change, the scientists discovered that increasing temperatures in the species' historically cold habitats would result in their areas of distribution being significantly reduced. As a consequence, if global warming continues at the same rate, viviparous lizards are facing extinction in the next few decades.
Dr Daniel Pincheira-Donoso is one of the few people in the world who works on the ecology and evolution of these lizard species. He said: "Lizards' reproduction is largely linked to climatic temperatures and viviparous species are usually found in cold environments. When reptiles initially moved to colder areas they needed to evolve emergency measures to succeed in these harsh places, and we believe viviparity is one of these key measures. However, this transition is mostly one-directional and unlikely to be reversed. Rapid changes in the environment's temperature would demand rapid re-adaptations to secure the species' survival. Through the research we found that over the next 50 years nearly half of the area where these species occur may disappear, causing multiple extinctions due to climate change."
Overall the conclusion is that although viviparity allowed lizards in the past to invade and adapt to live in cold environments, and was therefore a key trait for evolutionary success, it will now ultimately lead to multiple events of extinction.
Dr Pincheira-Donoso said: "These lizards are one of the most diverse groups of animals, and are able to adapt to remarkably diverse conditions. Unfortunately, a reduction in cold environments will reduce their areas of existence, which means that their successful evolutionary history may turn into a double-edged sword of adaptation. Their extinctions would be an atrocious loss to biodiversity."
Dr Dave Hodgson, from the University of Exeter, said: "Climate change must not be underestimated as a threat to modern patterns of biodiversity. Our work shows that lizard species which birth live young instead of laying eggs are restricted to cold climates in South America: high in the Andes or towards the South Pole. As the climate warms, we predict that these special lizard species will be forced to move upwards and towards the pole, with an increased risk of extinction."
The work formed part of Dr Pincheira-Donoso's post-doctoral work, which was funded by the Leverhulme Trust.
Story Source:
The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Lincoln.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.
Journal Reference:
1. Pincheira-Donoso, D., Tregenza, T., Witt, M.J. & Hodgson, D.J. The evolution of viviparity opens opportunities for a lizard radiation but drives it into a climatic cul-de-sac. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 2013

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6) Stressed-Out Tadpoles Grow Larger Tails to Escape Predators
Mar. 5, 2013 — When people or animals are thrust into threatening situations such as combat or attack by a predator, stress hormones are released to help prepare the organism to defend itself or to rapidly escape from danger -- the so-called fight-or-flight response.
Now University of Michigan researchers have demonstrated for the first time that stress hormones are also responsible for altering the body shape of developing animals, in this case the humble tadpole, so they are better equipped to survive predator attacks.
Through a series of experiments conducted at field sites and in the laboratory, U-M researchers demonstrated that prolonged exposure to a stress hormone enabled tadpoles to increase the size of their tails, which improved their ability to avoid lethal predator attacks.
"This is the first clear demonstration that a stress hormone produced by the animal can actually cause a morphological change, a change in body shape, that improves their survival in the presence of lethal predators. It's a survival response," said Robert Denver, a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology and of ecology and evolutionary biology.
The team's surprising findings are detailed in a paper to be published online March 5 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. First author of the paper is Jessica Middlemis Maher, a former U-M doctoral student, now at Michigan State University, who conducted the work for her dissertation.
Scientists have long known that environmental changes can prompt animals and plants to alter their morphology and physiology, as well as the timing of developmental events. For example, tadpoles can accelerate metamorphosis into frogs in response to a drying pond, a high density of predators or a lack of food.
The term "phenotypic plasticity" is used to describe modifications by animals and plants in response to a changing environment.
"There's been a lot of interest in phenotypic plasticity among developmental biologists and evolutionary ecologists for more than 70 years, but there's been relatively little focus on the mechanisms by which the environmental signal is translated into a functional response," Denver said.
"We've known, for example, that tadpoles can change their body shape in response to predation risk. But until now, nobody knew the basic physiological mechanisms mediating that response. That's what's novel about this study."
The study involved wood frog tadpoles and the stress hormone corticosterone, which is similar to the human stress hormone cortisol. Tadpoles were collected from ponds at U-M's E.S. George Reserve in Pinckney, Mich., northwest of Ann Arbor.
Some of the tadpoles were reared in tanks at the reserve. Dragonfly larvae, which are known predators of tadpoles, were placed in small cages inside the tanks and were fed live tadpoles. When under attack, tadpoles release chemical signals called pheromones that travel through the water to alert other tadpoles to the presence of predators. The researchers found that tadpoles repeatedly exposed to the alarm pheromone over several days showed elevated whole-body levels of corticosterone.
In the laboratory, other tadpoles were exposed either to the alarm pheromone, to corticosterone or to a chemical that blocks the synthesis of the stress hormone. Over the course of several days, tadpoles treated with either the pheromone or the stress hormone developed deeper tails and shorter trunks than control animals, while tadpoles treated with the pheromone and the hormone inhibitor had shallower tails and longer trunks than those exposed to the pheromone alone.
"A key finding was showing that you could eliminate the effect of the alarm pheromone on tadpole body shape by blocking the production of the stress hormone," Denver said. "If you block production of the animal's hormone and it inhibits the change in tail size, then that's a powerful argument that the production of corticosterone is physiologically important for the morphological change."
In another experiment, tadpole tails were placed in a petri dish containing corticosterone. Over the course of several days the tails grew larger, suggesting that the hormone was acting directly on the tail to make it grow.
"The action of the stress hormone on the tail to cause it to grow was unexpected because in adult vertebrates, including humans, prolonged exposure to stress hormones typically inhibits the growth of tissues," Denver said. "In humans, chronic stress causes muscle wasting."
In another set of experiments, normal-tailed tadpoles and large-tailed tadpoles produced by exposure to corticosterone or alarm pheromone were placed in tanks containing uncaged dragonfly larvae, which were allowed to attack the tadpoles. The large-tailed tadpoles had a higher survival rate than their smaller-tailed neighbors.
The third author of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B paper is Earl Werner, director of the E.S. George Reserve and a professor in the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
All experiments were conducted in accordance with the guidelines of the University Committee on the Use and Care of Animals at the University of Michigan. The work was supported by the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and by several grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation.
__________________________________________________________________
These articles were written and published in “Herpetological Conservation and Biology” in honor of Hobart Smith reaching 100, But they serve well as an obituary for you to understand him and appreciate his life work.

1) PIONEER OF HERPETOLOGY AT HIS CENTURY MARK: HOBART M. SMITH

A. BRUCE BURY1AND STANLEY E. TRAUTH2
Herpetological Conservation and Biology 7(2):vii-viii. 9/10/12

1 Editor-in-Chief, Herpetological Conservation and Biology
e-mail: clemmys@gmail.com
2Department of Biological Sciences, Arkansas State University, P.O. Box 599, State University, AR 72467-0599,
e-mail: strauth@astate.edu

In this issue of Herpetological Conservation and Biology, we honor Dr. Hobart M. Smith (Fig. 1), an icon in the world of herpetology, as he turns 100 years of age. He was born on September 26, 1912, in Stanwood, Iowa. His stellar career was summarized earlier (Chiszar et al. 2004) but we wish to point out a few highlights.

What probably strikes most herpetologists as absolutely phenomenal is Hobart’s extraordinary publication record, which numbered over 1,600 articles and books back in 2006 (see Hobart M. Smith biography—Herpetological Conservation and Biology 1[1], page 9), surpassing all contemporaries. He remains the most publishedherpetologist of all time (Anonymous 2012). Of his 29 books, some notable ones include the following: Handbookof Lizards (Fig. 2; Smith 1946), seven volumes on the Herpetology of Mexico (e.g., Smith and Smith 1979), and a
text book on comparative anatomy (Smith 1960). He has also encouraged students and the science of herpetology over many decades.

He previously graced our journal by co-authoring the second paper in our inaugural volume in 2006 with David Chiszar (Smith and Chiszar 2006). Moreover, he had profound influence on many of us at HCB at a personal
level: During several years in the 1990s, one us (Trauth) corresponded with Hobart in regards to loaning snakes to him and once in regards to obtaining support of his nomination of the late Ernie Liner for an honorary doctoral degree. On occasion, we still crack Hobart M. Smith at the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and open a copy of the fifth edition (1971) of Hobart’s “Handbook of Lizards.”

In the far past, one of us (Bury) still recalls doing what you are not suppose to do. He wrote Dr. Hobart M. Smith and asked for all his reprints. A week later, a 2-inch thick envelope showed at his door chock full of reprints. This left a mark on a budding herpetologist (this happened when the neophyte was age 14). Despite the apparent age difference even then, Hobart was polite to this upstart and almost apologetic for not being able to send more reprints. It left a lasting impression: scientists publish papers as a major means of communication and that means being a herpetologist is being able to author manuscripts (and design studies) and not just go out and catch animals in the wild for fun or profit. That provided an impetus to do better in school and think of going to college. Lesson learned.

We wish to honor the long and highly productive career of Hobart M. Smith with two short tributes to Hobart Smith.

First, David Chiszar interviewed Hobart this last spring and organized the material into an article for HCB (this issue): Some Notes on the Last Hundred Years and the Next Stages in the Evolution of Herpetology. Although authored by Hobart M. Smith, we know that David Chiszar shepherded it through to completion. Next, and while ill with own issues, David insisted that he finish a piece about his good friend: "Hobart M. Smith Turns 100." We attempted to do minimal editing on these papers and include them here for your enjoyment.

After being on the faculty at the University of Illinois, Hobart M. Smith served as the Chair of the Department ofEcology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, from 1972-1983. He is now retired and resides in Boulder, Colorado. We wish him all our best.

Acknowledgments.—We thank Malcolm L. McCallum for first suggesting that we recognize the 100th birthday ofHobart M. Smith. And, we deeply appreciate the efforts of David Chiszar for his personal interviews with Hobart.

LITERATURE CITED
Anonymous. 2012. Hobart Muir Smith. Available on-line: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobart_Muir_Smith (Accessed on: 3 August 2012).
David Chiszar, Edwin McConkey, and Margaret M.Stewart. 2004. Hobart Muir Smith. Copeia 2:418–424.
Smith, H.M. 1946. Handbook of Lizards. CornellUniversity Press, Ithaca, New York. 557 p. (re-released in 1995).
Smith, H.M. 1960. Evolution of Chordate Structure: An Introduction to Comparative Anatomy. Holt, Rinehart
and Winston, New York. 529 p.
Smith, H.M., and D. Chiszar. 2006. Dilemma of namerecognition: Why and when to use new combinations of scientific names. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 1:6-8.
Smith, H.M., and R.B. Smith. 1979. Synopsis of the Herpetofauna of Mexico: Vol. 6, Guide to Mexican Turtles; Bibliographic Addendum III. John Johnson, Vermont
__________________________________________________________________
2) HOBART M. SMITH TURNS 100

DAVID CHISZAR 9/10/12 Herpetological Conservation and Biology 7(2):vii-viii.
Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0345, USA

Hobart Muir Smith, the great taxonomic herpetologist whose collecting expeditions in Mexico began in 1932, recently got a call from colleague David Wake. He had a student in Mexico who was trying to track down a
locality for a Plethodontid salamander that Hobart reported in 1938. At 99 and no longer possessing his library, Hobart required only a few minutes to direct the student to a dusty spot six miles north of Santa Anita in the state of Hildalgo. Always modest and soft-spoken, Hobart just smiled. Of course he remembered. Why wouldn't he?

Slightly built but wiry strong, much younger colleagues who accompanied him on trips marveled at Hobart scrambling over escarpments toward his objective. One was reminded of the lively codger played by Walter Huston in the classic movie, "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," only it wasn't gold Hobart was after.
It was amphibians and reptiles.

Herpetologist Howard K. Gloyd became a friend and mentor to Hobart and redirected his intellectual curiosity to amphibians and reptiles. Furthermore, Gloyd encouraged Hobart to get advanced training in herpetology at the University of Kansas under the colorful Edward H. Taylor, one of the greatest taxonomic herpetologists of his time. Graduate study started in a uniquely Tayloresque manner. On the day of Hobart's graduation from KSU in 1932, Taylor was waiting on that campus for Hobart with a 1926 Chevy sedan packed and ready for Mexico. Off they went, not to return until over 5000 specimens had been collected
and classes started for the fall semester at KU. Thus began the Smith and Taylor exploration of the herpetofauna of Mexico.


The vast diversity of species was not yet understood in 1932, although it was hinted at by a number of scholars, starting with Francisco Hernandez in the 16th Century and continuing with Ferdinand Deppe and many others
in the nineteenth century (Wiegmann, Dumeril, Bocourt, Peters, Boulanger, Cope and Duges). Thus, fairly large museum collections were assembled (U.S. National Museum, American Museum of Natural History and the British Museum), but none of these institutions had herpetologists devoted specifically to the Mexican material until Hobart received the Walter Rathbone Bacon Fellowship that funded additional collections over a two-year period and a year at the Smithsonian Institution working on the new material plus specimens already present. Based partly on papers published by others and partly on the intuitions of Smith and Taylor, it was reasoned that every ice age (glaciations) drove North American animals into southern areas, including Mexico. This almost certainly would give rise to radiations in Mexico that otherwise would not have occurred, leading to spectacular herpetological diversity, as well as diversity in other groups of vertebrates and
invertebrates. This was a hypotheses held by at least a few researchers, and it was the idea that Smith, Taylor and others tested over the years in their collective efforts.

Trips to Mexico of varying duration occurred in 1932, 1935, 1936, 1938 1939 and two others in the 1990s when Hobart was in his 80s. Numerous companions accompanied him on those trips and they are listed in Chiszar and Smith (1982).

His forays ranged across most of Mexico "as far as the roads would take us," resulting in some 30,000 specimens collected and over a thousand publications, including the famous Handbook of Lizards. And a few stories that weren't published, like the tale of the hungry jaguar and the story of his herpetological honeymoon.

Hobart's memory easily slides back to those years on the Mexican roads and outback. He recalls staying with a rancher in Campeche who wanted to discourage him from going into the jungle at night, so he told Hobart the tale of a jaguar that killed an ox - still in harness - then dragged not only its prey but also the harness and the wagon into the jungle. From Hobart's point of view it was quite impossible to avoid collecting at night as this would vitiate the project. You simply cannot sample a fauna by doing so in a way that systematically eliminates a large segment of the underlying population - that of the nocturnal. Much to the distress of the Campeche rancher,

Hobart continued his nightly forays, although he wore a sidearm. This may have given some comfort to the rancher, but the gun was a .22 caliber loaded with dust shot, ineffective against any large mammalian predator.

At another time, Taylor lost his rifle to bandits. "We parked the car off the road and locked it, and then went off to some herping. Upon arriving back at the vehicle, we were aghast to learn that the rear window of the sedan had been smashed in and the gun was stolen. Taylor insisted that a policeman be called and it would be this officer's job to head on up the mountain and recover the rifle. When the policeman arrived and saw where he would have to go, he utterly refused, saying 'There are only bad people up there!’" Taylor never did recover the rifle.

Once, Hobart and Taylor lost a gas tank on the Chevy while collecting south of Saltillo in northwest Mexico. The tank was placed in the back seat, with a plastic tube connected with the distributor. As the tube got shorter and shorter with repeated occurrence of leaks in it, Hobart wound up standing on the running board holding aloft a gallon jar with the remains of the gasoline whileTaylor drove into Saltillo where a mechanic replaced the gas tank and its connections to the engine. This association between Hobart and his somewhat eccentric mentor lasted for many years. Having learned his way around from Gloyd and Taylor, Hobart had become skilled in preparation of specimens, tagging and cataloging them. Thus on his trip to Mexico with Taylor, he took care of most of that work. One summer while Rozella and Hobart were collecting on the Bacon Scholarship, Taylor notified them he would like to accompany them for a month.

Unfortunately it was a month of small disasters, Taylor’s car giving engine problems and getting flats repaired, as well as having difficulty controlling events. Taylor found that he could not have his way all of the time; his strong will conflicted with Rozella’s strong will, creating considerable mutual antipathy. Near the end of the month a drying pair of Taylor’s slacks caught fire at night in a mountain cabin where they were staying. A few days later he left us, stating with an accusatory glare that he had never had a more unpleasant collecting trip
in his life. The Smiths rather agreed.

LITERATURE CITED

Chiszar, D. and R.B. Smith. 1982. Fifty Years of
Herpetology: Publications of Hobart M. Smith. John
Johnson, North Bennington, VT. 78pp.

__________________________________________________________________
3) SOME NOTES ON THE LAST HUNDRED YEARS AND THE NEXT STAGES IN THE EVOLUTION OF HERPETOLOGY by HOBART M. SMITH*
2/10/12 Herpetological Conservation and Biology 7(2):xi-xiv.

Editor’s Note: In honor of his 100th birthday that takes place this September 2012, we invited Hobart Smith to reflect on how the science of herpetology has changed, what important things he would recommend to young herpetologists to be successful,and what he viewed as the future of herpetology. He generously accepted, and what appears below is from a direct interview by David Chiszar, followed by revision by Dr. Smith. The manuscript is being published as submitted. It is hoped by the HCB editorial staff that this rare contribution may provide others with valuable perspectives from a scientist with unmatched
experience, productivity, and accomplishment.

My objective here is three fold: (1) to look backward and identify seminal developments in herpetology during my watch, (2) to peer forward and speculate about future developments in the field, and (3) to provide advice to
young people about how to prepare for careers in herpetology. None of these charges is particularly easy, but neither are there wrong answers to any of these more-or-less subjective issues, especially the latter two. The key, I think, is to take each charge seriously and to let both heart and mind contribute to them.

LOOKING BACKWARD

Certainly an important step, and the only one in which was a participant, was the recognition of the fantastic herpetological diversity of Mexico. Of course, this did not happen all at once and numerous people were involved (and still are involved). Also, as the work progressed, it became clear that what was true of
Mexican herpetology was also true of all the other departments of Mexican natural history. My first collecting trip (with Ed Taylor) occurred in 1932, and was the forerunner of many other trips by a wide variety of workers. The magic of the Mexican herpetofauna eventually swept many North American, European, and
Mexican field workers into the same enthusiastic embrace that has kept me enthralled for three quarters of a century.
______
My first herpetological paper was published in 1931,at which time there were no herpetological journals, except for Copeia, which covers both fish and herps. The herpetological journals with which we are now familiar came later, and this must be reckoned as an important development within the field of herpetology.
Amphibians and reptiles were not as well known in those days (and earlier) as birds and mammals. The new journals did a great deal to increase the general knowledge of herps. In this context I ought to mention that Howard Gloyd and Edward Taylor were models and mentors to me, stimulating my work and encouraging the accumulation of information about amphibians, reptiles, and their environments.

During the post World War II period, we saw the emergence of phenetics and cladistics, with the eventual domination of the latter in phylogenetic contexts. While this was unquestionably a profoundly important development, it did not come without costs, particularly in the denigration of subspecies by the cladists. Without belaboring this point, let me say that we came to a place where some aspects of variation were seen to be phylogenetically important while other aspects were essentially ignored. Of course, I am referring to categorical distinctions between taxa (i.e., transformation series) on the one hand, and mensural,
but not necessarily, categorical variation on the other hand. Although cladists could justify this dichotomy in the treatment of data, it nevertheless flew in the face of older herpetologists who had been taught that all aspects of variation had something to say about evolution.

Closely related to the development of cladistics were the eventual contributions of the geneticists who added a whole new world of characters to the largely morphological ones already in use. The “problem” here was that an interested reader could not get very far into the research papers without becoming a geneticist or at least becoming quite conversant with the methods and interpretations. This was, of course, a challenge for classically trained taxonomists who frequently ended up believing what the geneticists said without having the ability to be critical consumers.

Herpetology was becoming during the 1970s a collection of highly specialized subfields, and this same transformation was happening in all of the traditional divisions of natural history. Indeed, the changes were rather accelerated in mammalogy and ornithology. I do not mean to present the development of subfields as a bad thing; to the contrary, it was the ideal strategy for inter- and multi-disciplinary cooperation to bring about rapid modernization in fields that for centuries had been addicted to alpha taxonomy. Modernization was, happily, not always associated with demanding technical shibboleths such as we have seen in cladistics and genetics. Some of the new subfields that came along between 1960 and 1980 included behavioral ecology, comparative endocrinology, comparative pathology, energetics, and developmental psychobiology.

Toxinology fits into this picture as well, but this subfield started somewhat earlier than those already mentioned. Although these and other specialties have their technical sides, they can usually be understood by normal mortals,
except perhaps for toxinology where a fair amount of biochemistry is necessary. Herpetologists could take delight in the work of all these specialists who showed in study after study that amphibians and reptiles were far more sophisticated than previously thought.

Conservation biology and restoration ecology are two recent and related fields that deserve special notice not only because they are shiny new disciplines but also because they represent the final common path for a great deal of knowledge in natural history. Without doubt, workers in these fields are doing what most of us older workers hoped we might someday do, but we never got around to it partly because of our old fashioned but heart felt research commitments and partly because we lacked the training, methodologies and theoretical frameworks.
Today, it is gratifying to see these fields prosper and to see them make contributions to the survival of taxa, guilds, clades, and ecosystems.

The profound growth of amateur herpetology has been impressive in both husbandry and breeding of amphibians and reptiles. Indeed, I use the word “amateur” rather sheepishly because the practitioners are every bit as professional in their own way as any academic herpetologist has been in his or her way. Of
course, there is a profit motive involved in the breeding and selling of captive herps, but this point ought not blind us to the advances that have been made. Nothing like this existed when I began my career, and I certainly
welcome not only the advances but also the contacts that occur between the breeders of herpetofauna and the academics.

LOOKING FORWARD

I predict that conservation biology and restoration ecology (CBRE) will become the center of natural history in this century. This doesn’t mean that the other aspects of natural history will disappear, rather that they will take on a new “spin” in connecting themselves with CBRE. I don’t use the word “spin” to suggest shallow or tenuous connections or mere lip service. Instead, I think connections, for example between taxonomy and CBRE, have always existed but have been more-or-less latent because journal editors and reviewers have urged taxonomic authors to confine themselves to the task at hand and not to speculate very far beyond their data.

This, of course, generates fairly narrow Discussion sections. Now days I see, at least in some journals, that editors and reviewers ask for brief speculation about the conservation implications of the new data, and this can sometimes be a challenge for authors. Times are changing. Additional evidence can be seen in the
research involvement of some zoos. This work is on the increase, and virtually all zoo-sponsored projects have direct connections with CBRE. Indeed, at a recent meeting of the American Zoo Association, one speaker from a zoo that provides support for research said that projects must have direct implications for CBRE to
qualify for support.

I can see or hope for a few other developments in the future of herpetology. One involves the study of behavior, which has already contributed important insights into amphibians and reptiles, but I think even the active behaviorists would agree that there is much more to do. For example, although we know a fair amount about learning in herps, especially in standardized paradigms, we are only gradually
discovering the cognitive processes involved in foraging, migration, defense, mate selection, etc. Such work in mammals, birds, and fish has been impressive, even scintillating, and the few papers I am familiar with in herpetology have been equally dramatic. I hope we can look forward to an accumulation of data and theory within amphibians and reptiles. I think there has been a bias in the “old guard,” who underestimated the cognitive capabilities of herps, with maybe a few exceptions, such as sea turtles and crocodilians. This bias for many years discouraged research or even discussion of cognition, decision making, and behavioral plasticity in amphibians and reptiles. Now it is becoming clear that the bias was unfounded and that our animals are far more sophisticated than many classical workers realized. The new research will play into CBRE
in several ways; one is that the general public might become more likely to support conservation activities for animals possessing human-like behavioral characteristics and flexibilities, even if the cognitive-neural underpinnings are different from ours. One well-known and long-known example is maternal behavior in crocodilians. More recent examples include maternal behavior in some snakes and lizards, and parental care of eggs in some amphibians. But there are even better examples from other domains of behavior, such as foraging, territoriality, and defense. We know, for example, that territory size in some lizards varies with prey quantity and quality, such that the lizards appear to behave optimally, adjusting territory size upward when prey is scarce or of low quality and downward when high quality prey is abundant. Optimality and related
theories will continue to inspire research and to reveal the cognitive complexity of amphibians and reptiles.

This cannot but help to raise these animals in the esteem of the general public.

Some herpetological research might contribute to human welfare in a direct way. Add the following ideas to the list of potential and realized medical applications that Finley Russell prepared in 1980. Components of snake venoms are being found to attack human cancer cells by inhibiting metastatic processes. Anticoagulation elements of some snake venoms may have medical applications, especially in fighting clots. Skin chemicals in some anurans may be useful in preventing or treating sunburn. The discovery that various snakes reduce organ sizes during fasts, thus reducing energy demands, has become a target of medical research when it was found that cardiac tissue also shrinks during fasts and then increases quickly when a meal is secured.

Perhaps there will be human applications when the physiological mechanisms become known.

Regeneration has long been studied in amphibians because the phenomenon is intrinsically interesting and because there may be practical applications. I think we can expect continued progress in all of these areas and in related ones.

It is likely that we have only scratched the surface regarding the potential medical applications of herpetological adaptations. Consider, for example, the fact that aquatic turtles can lose well over 50% of their blood volume with few ill effects. The turtles appear quickly to shift water from other compartments to the circulatory system to compensate for the loss of blood volume and to control blood pressure. Although I have not yet seen discussions of how this phenomenon might be applied to humans, the possibility exists and it likely will be explored in the near future. Consider also the phenomenon of caudal autotomy and the rapid healing that occurs along fracture planes.

The lumping of amphibians and reptiles was a custom of Linnaeus’s times, and we followed suit. We know today that amphibians and reptiles are as different as birds and mammals, so it ought to be possible to divide herpetology into two disciplines: amphibiology and reptilology. This, however, is unlikely to occur partly
because the lumping of amphibians and reptiles into a single discipline is thoroughly entrenched in academic culture, and partly because herpetology has transformed from a diversity-oriented field to a function-oriented field. The focus on function takes emphasis away from diversity-based separation of amphibians and reptiles.

ADVICE FOR ASPIRING HERPETOLOGISTS

From the previous sections I suspect that young herpetologists can see that there are still worlds to conquer in this field. At the same time, the changes that have already occurred within herpetology ought to have strong effects on your thinking. For example, during the past few decades I have not seen a job advertised for a
herpetologist per se , except for several zoo or museum positions. On the other hand, I have seen many university and college jobs that herpetologists could fill if they had a few additional arrows in their quivers. In other words, the candidates needed to fit into one or another of the modern inter-disciplinary specialties
described above. Likewise, the candidates were expected to teach not only herpetology but also other courses, including service elements like general biology, evolution, anatomy or physiology, but also other advanced courses connected with the person’s interdisciplinary specialty, like cladistics, comparative
endocrinology, ethology, behavioral ecology, ecological chemistry (associated with mate finding, reproduction, predation, and avoidance of predation), conservation, restoration ecology, or others. Of course, no one would be expected to teach all of these courses, but candidates would be expected to be able to handle some of them.
Indeed, the job descriptions are almost certain to name the one or two areas that would be desired. Graduate students focusing on herpetology could compete effectively for such jobs if they prepared broadly and had the necessary additional coursework.

One way to deal with this new demand for interdisciplinary breadth besides taking the necessary courses yourself is to spend some time creating course outlines of your own, perhaps even improving on the courses you have taken. In my experience, graduate students are excellent at this sort of criticism, but I have seen very few who have taken the additional steps of preparing detailed course outlines until they must prepare syllabi after having gotten an academic job. Why prepare such outlines in graduate school? Well, there are two reasons.First, careful and detailed outlines complete with references, illustrations, and required readings are a fine way to integrate your knowledge and to prepare for comprehensive exams. Second, streamlined but competent versions of these outlines can be mailed along with vitas and reprints to search committees. These committees are quite accustomed to receiving vitas,reprints, and letters of recommendation, but they don’t often receive course outlines showing that the candidate has thought carefully about future teaching responsibilities. This appears to be true for both graduate students and post-docs who are applying for academic jobs. Likewise, the new specialties usually involve new methodologies for field or lab work or for
computer modeling. A candidate’s proficiency in such matters ought to be made clear in both reprints of his or her recent studies and in course outlines. In my experience, when such materials have been received, the candidates were noticed and almost invariably placed on the short list.

Obviously, more is required of aspiring herpetologists today than was the case in my day, but at the same time we must recognize that young people who are naturally drawn to new inter-disciplinary specialties are likely pursuing a labor of love not unlike that which drove my work on Mexican herpetofauna. Hence, it may not be too much to ask for these young people to take a few extra steps to make their skills and breath very clear in the form of course outlines rather than to leave these matters to be seen (maybe) in reprints or letters of recommendation. Non suppressio veri (don’t suppress the truth).

Also, I add some advice with certain reservations.Having worked with numerous students over the years, I have certainly encountered some who had interests in exotic animals and exotic places (not unlike my interests in Mexico). There are a few problems these days with such interests and these issues ought to be considered carefully. An obvious one is that some exotic places are dangerous. In my last trip to Mexico (1994) working on the distribution of Sceloporus undulatus , my colleagues and I found a wonderful dirt road leading into exactly the right habitat. We soon discovered that this road was used by car thieves heading south and by drug runners heading north, both groups willing to kill herpetologists taken for enforcement personnel. Such stories, some with tragic consequences, are not infrequent in otherparts of the world.

Another problem is, of course, acquiring funds for the work. Money is available for some projects in some places, but it is not abundant. Advice from funding agencies must be carefully sought, as opportunities are limited. Ship time, for example, needed for study of sea snakes and sea turtle movements, is fiercely expensive and very difficult to obtain. Likewise, travel funds needed to get to far-away habitats must be justified by the theoretical significance of the proposed work, and this sort of funding is tough to secure during the current recession. Things might loosen up in the future, but do not expect anything but very gradual change.

Finally, even if you get past the dangers and the financial issues, there is the temporal issue. Field work on exotic animals takes a great deal of time and effort, and this sometimes leads to a sparse publication record,especially in the early years of a project. Unfortunately, this is precisely the time when you will be expected to
publish with some frequency to be promoted and tenured. It might be smart and politic to pursue easier work during the early years of an academic career and leave the exotic issues for later. While you are thinking about this, maybe you would be well advised to make clear your local interests to potential employers so that
they can have a vision of productivity unhampered bythe logistics of distance and time. Non suppressio veri .
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Volume # 13 Issue # 10 3/16/13
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Now in Paperback- $18.95 plus $4.00 for S&H in the US (Overseas email us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org 192 pages, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches, 11 halftones, 12 line illustrations (On how to order see very bottom of the e-newsletter.)
Trundling along in essentially the same form for some 220 million years, turtles have seen dinosaurs come and go, mammals emerge, and humankind expand its dominion. Is it any wonder the persistent reptile bested the hare? In this engaging book physiologist Donald C. Jackson shares a lifetime of observation of this curious creature, allowing us a look under the shell of an animal at once so familiar and so strange.
Here we discover how the turtle’s proverbial slowness helps it survive a long, cold winter under ice. How the shell not only serves as a protective home but also influences such essential functions as buoyancy control, breathing, and surviving remarkably long periods without oxygen, and how many other physiological features help define this unique animal. Jackson offers insight into what exactly it’s like to live inside a shell—to carry the heavy carapace on land and in water, to breathe without an expandable ribcage, to have sex with all that body armor intervening.
Along the way we also learn something about the process of scientific discovery—how the answer to one question leads to new questions, how a chance observation can change the direction of study, and above all how new research always builds on the previous work of others. A clear and informative exposition of physiological concepts using the turtle as a model organism, the book is as interesting for what it tells us about scientific investigation as it is for its deep and detailed understanding of how the enduring turtle “works.”
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“The Most Comprehensive Turtle Book.”
TURTLES, TORTOISES AND TERRAPINS- A Natural History -Revised, Expanded and Updated by Ronald Orenstein, 448 pages, that’s 150 more than the first edition, 9" X 11",more than 300 full color photographs, range maps, bibliography, index
AND YES EVEN IF YOU HAVE COPIES OF THE FIRST EDITION YOU SHOULD GET THE 2ND EDITION, IT’S A WHOLE NEW BOOK.
$59.95 USD plus $12.00 for S&H in US, overseas please contact us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
1) Reexamining the Minimum Viable Population Concept for Long-Lived Species (i.e. Bog Turtles)
2) Mass. Endangered Species Act Still Under Attack!
3) International collaboration to investigate disappearing reptiles and amphibians
4) China's 'Snake Village' Breeds More Than 3 Million Snakes A Year
5) DNA Sequencing Used to Learn The History Of Native Snakes
6) Court Hearing Focuses on Whether EPA Must Protect Hundreds of Endangered Species From Pesticides
7) Boom Over, St. Patrick’s Isle Is Slithering Again
8) NEW Illinois Herp Bill-Introduced – SB 2362
9)USFWS has announced that effective immediately, it will suspend all inspection and clearance of wildlife imports/exports during overtime hours on weekdays, weekends, or Federal Holidays.
10) (editor- this week I sent out a notice about turtle races, we know there are also frog races, but not rattlesnake races? For 41 years. If it moves we will find someway to get make it entertaining so we can make a buck off them.)
11) Snakes Slither to Brownwood Rattlesnake Roundup
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RAFETUS: The Curve of Extinction
by Peter C. H. Pritchard
In this, Pritchard’s eleventh book, he tells the incredible story of the world’s rarest turtle, Rafetus swinhoei, a true giant of the chelonian world. This freshwater Loch Ness Monster, is represented by a single mystical giant living in Lake Hoan Kiem in downtown Hanoi, a juvenile in Dong Mo, perhaps a few specimens living in the shadows of deep lakes in nature, and a large adult pair who lived alone as zoo specimens for more than fifty years, separated by thousands of miles. By a miraculous feat of politics, ingenuity, and human labor, these two individuals were brought together for the purpose of saving the species. In RAFETUS: The Curve of Extinction, Dr. Pritchard presents a story of looming loss, but also of hope..$65 + $6.00 Overseas contact us for S&H info. SEE BOTTOM OF THIS ISSUE ON HOW TO ORDER. LIMITED NUMBER AVAILABLE
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HEALTH CARE AND REHABILITATION OF TURTLES AND TORTOISES
An excellent, must have for every turtle owner and every turtle & wildlife rehabilitator
Covers everything from general information such as: turtle anatomy, diet, stress, hibernation, brumation, outdoor and indoor enclosures and more --- to over 250 pages on shell fractures, tube feeding, bacterial and viral diseases, parasites, diagnostics, antibiotics in chelonians, and with supporting photographs. The author took great time and care to translate her and others experiences in turtle rehabilitation without the jargon, so all turtle owners enthusiasts can understand.
Full-color photographs. (2012) 393 pp. Softcover, by Amanda Ebenhack $39.85 plus $6.00 S&H see below on how to order (Overseas email us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org or S&H price)
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1) Reexamining the Minimum Viable Population Concept for Long-Lived Species (i.e Bog Turtles)
1. KEVIN T. SHOEMAKER1,†,
2. ALVIN R. BREISCH2,‡,
3. JESSE W. JAYCOX3,
4. JAMES P. GIBBS1
Conservation Biology
Article first published online: 4 MAR 2013
DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12028
1. †Current address: Department of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University, 650 Life Sciences Bldg., Stony Brook, NY 11794, U.S.A., email kevintshoemaker@gmail.com
2. ‡Current address: 29 Fiddlehead Lane, Altamont, NY 12009, U.S.A.
Abstract
For decades conservation biologists have proposed general rules of thumb for minimum viable population size (MVP); typically, they range from hundreds to thousands of individuals. These rules have shifted conservation resources away from small and fragmented populations. We examined whether iteroparous, long-lived species might constitute an exception to general MVP guidelines. On the basis of results from a 10-year capture-recapture study in eastern New York (U.S.A.), we developed a comprehensive demographic model for the globally threatened bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii), which is designated as endangered by the IUCN in 2011. We assessed population viability across a wide range of initial abundances and carrying capacities. Not accounting for inbreeding, our results suggest that bog turtle colonies with as few as 15 breeding females have >90% probability of persisting for >100 years, provided vital rates and environmental variance remain at currently estimated levels. On the basis of our results, we suggest that MVP thresholds may be 1–2 orders of magnitude too high for many long-lived organisms. Consequently, protection of small and fragmented populations may constitute a viable conservation option for such species, especially in a regional or metapopulation context.
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2) Mass. Endangered Species Act Still Under Attack!

The wildlife of Massachusetts is facing it a new and terrifying threat. A bill to kill the MA Endangered Species Act (MESA) is circulating around the state legislature. It is circulating in several variations under different names. This is a very serious, multi-year effort by anti-wildlife developers and politicians. (See “Who is Bill Pepin?” in the Valley Advocate 2009). It will come to a head this year and your help is needed to put an end to this. This is not a plea for donations! You just need to do a little typing.

If you are a Massachusetts resident:
1. Contact your state senator and representative and tell them, “I expect you to support the Massachusetts Endangered Species regulations! Any ‘compromise’ bill should in no way diminish the ability of the Natural Heritage Program to do its job.”
2. Find your legislators’’ contact information at http://www.malegislature.gov/people/findmylegislator
3. Send a similar message to the governor. Contact information posted at www.mass.gov/governor/constituentservices/contact/

MA Residents and Others:
The “Victims of Natural Heritage” have created a You Tube channel to spread their propaganda.
1. Go to their channel to vote down and leave disapproving comments on their four videos.
2. Is it a coincidence that the leader of this group is a high-ranking official (Valley Advocate, 2009) at an NBC affiliate and very professional videos have been posted on Youtube? If you do not believe in coincidence you may want to contact NBC Corporate at nbcuniversalviewerfeedback@nbcuni.com

Massachusetts wildlife needs your voice now! Please take a little time to help.
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3) International collaboration to investigate disappearing reptiles and amphibians
UCSC biologist Barry Sinervo leads NSF-funded project to study the effects of climate change on plants and animals around the world
March 13, 2013, By Tim Stephens
University of California-Santa Cruz Press Release- The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $2 million in grants to fund a collaborative research project to investigate how climate change is affecting plant communities and animal populations around the world. Led by UC Santa Cruz biologist Barry Sinervo, an international team of scientists will study the effects of climate change at research sites on five continents.
In 2010, Sinervo and others published a landmark paper documenting the widespread extinction of lizard populations due to climate change. The new study will evaluate how climate-driven changes to plant communities are affecting local populations of lizards, frogs, fish, and other "cold-blooded" vertebrate animals. As climate change alters global patterns of temperature and rainfall, the resulting changes to plant communities may be causing local extinctions of many vertebrate species, Sinervo said.
"Our hypothesis is that many vertebrate species are going extinct in part because rising temperatures are directly stressful to them, and in part because rising temperatures also damage plant communities, upon which animals rely for food, water, and shelter," he said.
In the 2010 study, Sinervo's group developed a computer-based model for predicting the risk of local extinction for different lizard populations. The new study will further develop and expand this model, using local studies, remote sensing, and online databases to create a worldwide data set integrating information on temperature, rainfall, plant die-offs, and the physiological limits for heat and water stress of targeted animals. This will enable scientists to predict and test how extinction rates among targeted vertebrate species relate to current and expected changes in rainfall, temperature, and plant communities.
The project includes scientists with expertise in climatology, physiology, biodiversity, and remote sensing. An international team from 20 countries will work together on this project, which will also train a new generation of postdoctoral researchers and graduate students in the latest methods of climate change studies.
"The new grants will fund scientists and graduate students working at research stations around the world," Sinervo said. "These researchers have a wealth of data on the species in their regions, which we are integrating into the framework we have developed."
In addition to Sinervo, the other principal investigator involved in the project is Jack Sites, a biologist at Brigham Young University. They were awarded two NSF grants totaling $2 million (award numbers 1241848 and 1241885).
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4) China's 'Snake Village' Breeds More Than 3 Million Snakes A Year
Business Insider, Megan Willett | Mar. 13, 2013,

According to Reuters, the 160 farming families that live in the Zisiqao village in the Zhejiang Province of China are known for their snakes. They collectively breed over three million snakes annually for food and medicinal purposes.



Cobras, vipers, and pythons are not only a common sight in the small village, but a way of life: Serpents outnumber the residents 3,000 to one.
It has become quite lucrative for the residents to raise and sell the snakes, with some even earning tens of thousands of dollars for their efforts, according to the BBC.
It was Yang Hongchang, a 60-year-old farmer, who first introduced snake breeding to the village in 1985. When the wild snakes Hongchang used to catch and sell became scarce, he researched how to raise snakes at home instead. After three years of successful breeding — and a healthy profit — the other villagers began to emulate his methods.
The result is an industry unlike any other in the world, with millions of snakes being raised for food or traditional Chinese medicine that is not only sold in China, but exported to the United States, Germany, Japan, and South Korea as well.
For slide show go to http://www.businessinsider.com/chinese- ... rn-coast-1

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5) DNA Sequencing Used to Learn The History Of Native Snakes
“We found that Sri Lanka has been colonized by snakes at least five times by totally different snake groups, which have each diversified heavily within the island”
RedOrbit, March 13, 2013

Alex Pyron’s expertise is in family trees. Who is related to whom, who begat whom, how did they get where they are now. But not for humans: reptiles.
In 2011, his fieldwork in Sri Lanka studying snake diversity on the island led him to confirm the identity of 60 known species of snakes. With Sri Lankan collaborators, Ruchira Somaweera, an author on snakes and expert on amphibians and reptiles, and Dushantha Kandambi, a local naturalist and snake expert, the team collected the snakes and of those, Dr. Pyron used DNA sequencing technology on 40 of them. The study led to a greater understanding of how all the snakes are related to each other and their evolutionary relationship other species globally.
“We found that Sri Lanka has been colonized by snakes at least five times by totally different snake groups, which have each diversified heavily within the island,” said Dr. Pyron, the Robert Griggs Assistant Professor of Biology at George Washington University in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.
Dr. Pyron’s findings were recently featured in the March edition of the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.
One finding was a blindsnake, which on its own would be noteworthy but in this case, the blindsnake had a history on the island.
“Molecular data, or DNA, has revolutionized all fields, whether finding genes for cancer or detecting new species. In my field, uses of DNA are twofold: to discover if populations are really new species and two, to determine how species are related. We were able to do both of these things in Sri Lanka. We discovered the blindsnake and we suspected it was a new species, but when we sequenced it, we discovered that it was an entirely new lineage of blindsnake. It’s still a blindsnake, but a new genus, a group of blindsnakes that had never been discovered or described.
Using datasets that included equal number of genes from endemic, or native snakes, and those that have colonized their fellow snake community, he and his team were able to determine how the 40 sequenced snakes were related to each other, a discovery that also revealed the deep biodiversity present on in Sri Lanka.
“We use complex chemical reactions to fragment the cell and the genome, and collect the purified DNA. It then gets passed through an even more complex series of reactions that allow us to determine the sequence of a large fraction of the genome,” he said.
Dr. Pyron was recently awarded almost $16,000 by the National Geographic Society to do a similar study of lizards, also in Sri Lanka.
His research reveals that for all that is known, there is still so much that is unknown about reptiles.
“Sri Lanka has one of the oldest recorded civilizations on the planet, and the blindsnake was discovered in the yard of an environmental agency office. Species are still being discovered there, and even the ones that were known were not really ‘known,’ as the DNA data are telling us new stories about how they are related, completely contradicting what we thought we knew. It tells us that Sri Lanka is a much bigger hotspot for biodiversity than previously known, and harbors massive richness.
“Hopefully, working with my Sri Lankan colleagues will be at least part of the key to understanding how a relatively small island like Sri Lanka has generated and maintained this diversity, which would get at some of the fundamental questions in evolutionary biology regarding species diversity.”
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6) Court Hearing Focuses on Whether EPA Must Protect Hundreds of Endangered Species From Pesticides

Press Release 3/15/13- SAN FRANCISCO— A federal district court in San Francisco will hear arguments today in the most comprehensive legal action ever brought under the Endangered Species Act to protect imperiled animals from pesticides. The Center for Biological Diversity and Pesticide Action Network North America are challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to assess the impacts of hundreds of pesticides known to be harmful to more than 200 endangered and threatened species.

Today’s hearing addresses motions filed by the EPA and pesticide industry groups to dismiss the lawsuit.

“For decades, the EPA has turned a blind eye to the disastrous effects pesticides have on some of America’s rarest species,” said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate with the Center. “We’re trying to make sure the EPA does its legal and moral duty to make sure harmful chemicals aren’t sprayed in the same places where these vulnerable wild animals are trying to survive.”

The lawsuit seeks protection from harmful pesticides for 212 endangered and threatened species throughout the United States, including Florida panthers, California condors, piping plovers, black-footed ferrets, arroyo toads, Indiana bats, bonytail chubs and Alabama sturgeon. Documents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and EPA, as well as peer-reviewed scientific studies, show that these species can be harmed by the more than 300 pesticides at issue.

Despite the well-documented risks of pesticides to hundreds of imperiled species, for decades the EPA has “registered,” that is permitted pesticide uses, without required consultations with expert federal agencies to properly study their impacts. This noncompliance prevents the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service from evaluating pesticide risks and restricting pesticide uses known to be harmful to protected species.

After the filing of this lawsuit in 2011, the EPA and the two federal wildlife agencies requested that the National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council examine the agencies’ joint responsibilities under the Endangered Species Act and provide recommendations regarding how best to complete the consultation process under the Act. The final Academy report is expected this month.

Today’s hearing, before Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero, will be at 9:30 a.m. at 450 Golden Gate Avenue, Courtroom G – 15th Floor, in San Francisco. The hearing is open to the public. Center attorney Collette Adkins Giese will be available after the hearing to discuss the case. To arrange an interview, please call (651) 955-3821.

Background
More than a billion pounds of pesticides are used annually in the United States, and the EPA has registered more than 18,000 different pesticides for use. Extensive scientific studies show widespread and pervasive pesticide contamination in groundwater, drinking water and wildlife habitats throughout the country.

Many EPA-approved pesticides are linked to cancer and other severe health effects in humans. Some pesticides can act as endocrine disruptors, interfering with natural hormones, damaging reproductive function and offspring, and causing developmental, neurological and immune problems in wildlife and humans. Endocrine-disrupting pesticides cause sexual deformities such as intersex fish (with male and female parts) that cannot reproduce. Scientists believe that pesticides may also play a role in colony collapse disorder, the recent mass disappearance of bees that are agriculturally important pollinators.

A new scientific study published last month shows that rapid declines of grassland bird species in the United States are strongly correlated with insecticide use. Scientists found that collapsing populations of grassland birds are strongly linked to use of lethally toxic insecticides. There has been widespread opposition to the EPA’s approvals without adequate review of a new generation of nerve-agent insecticides called “neonicotinoids,” which are linked to die-offs of honeybees.

An example of the EPA’s failure to protect people and the environment is the re-registration of the dangerous herbicide atrazine, a widespread pollutant of groundwater and drinking water in this country. Atrazine, which causes reproductive problems and chemically castrates male frogs even at extremely low concentrations, has been banned by the European Union. Recent research links atrazine to cancer, birth defects and endocrine disruption in humans, as well as significant harm to wildlife.

A series of lawsuits by the Center and other conservation groups has forced the EPA to consult on the impacts of scores of pesticides on some endangered species, primarily in California, and resulted in temporary restrictions on pesticide use in sensitive habitats. The litigation now before the court is the first with a nationwide scope, as it seeks Endangered Species Act compliance for hundreds of pesticides on hundreds of species across the country.

Contact: Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 669-7357
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7) Boom Over, St. Patrick’s Isle Is Slithering Again
By AMY CHOZICK, Published: March 15, 2013, New York Times
BALLIVOR, Ireland — Legend has it that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland. The economic crisis has brought some of them back.
During the Celtic Tiger boom, snakes became a popular pet among the Irish nouveaux riches, status symbols in a country famous for its lack of indigenous serpents. But after the bubble burst, many snake owners could no longer afford the cost of food, heating and shelter, or they left the country for work elsewhere. Some left their snakes behind or turned them loose in the countryside, leading to some startling encounters.
A California king snake was found late last year in a vacant store in Dublin, a 15-foot python turned up in a garden in Mullingar, a corn snake was found in a trash bin in Clondalkin in South Dublin, and an aggressive rat snake was kept in a shed in County Meath, northwest of Dublin, an area dotted with sprawling houses built during the boom.
“The recession is the thing that’s absolutely causing this,” said Kevin Cunningham, a 37-year-old animal lover who started the National Exotic Animal Sanctuary after he left his job at a Dublin nightclub. He has transformed an old single-room schoolhouse near Ballivor, a hamlet in the Meath countryside, into a reptile sanctuary.
“It was about status,” Mr. Cunningham said as he waved to a four-foot red iguana that was found under a sink in an abandoned house in Dublin. “During the boom, people treated these animals as conversation starters.”
Animals have always been abandoned in greater numbers in times of famine, economic hardship and mass emigration in Ireland, but in the past that usually meant farm animals. The Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was taking in five or six emaciated horses a week as recently as 2010. Now, though, snakes are more common among the foundlings, including a python named Basie that someone dropped by the side of a road.
“In the Tiger economy,” said P. J. Doyle, a reptile expert, “young people could pay 600 quid for a snake” and the necessary equipment — about $700 to $1,000 during much of the boom. But these days, he said, some owners “just drive up and throw them somewhere.”
Mr. Doyle, a hulking man with weathered skin and a gap between his teeth, helped the cruelty prevention society brace for an influx of reptiles around, of all dates, St. Patrick’s Day, when the warmer spring weather means that the coldblooded snakes will be more active and more likely to show themselves.
“We always get a bump in calls around Paddy’s Day,” Gillian Bird, the education officer at the society, said as she pet Carl, a green iguana from South America that she named after a colleague’s boyfriend.
Irish legend holds that the country has no native snakes because St. Patrick banished them in the fifth century. But science says the country was snake-free long before Patrick’s time. When the glaciers of the most recent ice age retreated from the British Isles more than 10,000 years ago, Ireland was already separated from the rest of Europe by open sea, an isolated ecosystem with a damp, chilly climate that is hostile to almost all reptiles, other than a common lizard.
Most of the recent snake sightings have occurred in the counties around Dublin, where the newly prosperous congregated in the country’s boom years. The government does not require owners to register pet reptiles, so there are no official statistics on the total number of snakes present in the country.
“If you buy a dog, you need a license, but if you buy a snake, you don’t,” said Brendan Ryan, a director of the Irish Pest Control Association.
Like the country’s housing boom and subsequent bust, the snake influx can partly be traced to European integration. In the years when Ireland stood somewhat apart from the broader European economy, it had strict regulations on the types of plants and animals that could be imported, but now Ireland’s standards match the more relaxed rules of other member states of the European Union.
“We’ve got no regulation whatsoever covering exotics,” said James Hennessy, zoo director and founder of Reptile Village Conservation Zoo in County Kilkenny. “Once it’s in Europe legally and coming from other European states, you can pick up whatever you want.”
Reptile Village is often called upon to rescue animals, including a crocodile that had been bought online and then abandoned in a Dublin apartment and a six-foot boa constrictor that had taken up residence under a skylight in an attic in County Meath. “His name’s Sammy, and he’s brilliant,” Mr. Hennessy said of the snake.
A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said Ireland adheres to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. But the convention does not prohibit trade in venomous snakes, which, while still rare here, can legally be bought in Ireland. That presents a scary proposition in a country with almost no antivenin stocks.
“You have to ask yourself why it’s permissible to have these animals in the country,” Mr. Ryan said.
Though a few loose rattlesnakes, cobras and vipers have been reported, most of the released snakes are not venomous and pose little or no hazard to humans. That does not always make them a welcome sight, though. “We have it deep inbred in us that they’re evil and nasty and tempted Eve and were led out of Ireland,” said Mr. Cunningham, the animal sanctuary founder.
He said one six-foot snake ended up with him recently after its owner lost his job and had to move in with his parents: “Being a good Irish mother, she said, ‘Of course I’ll take you back home — but I’m not taking your boa constrictor.’ ”
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8)NEW Illinois Herp Bill-Introduced – SB 2362
On February 15, 2013, Illinois Senator Heather Steans introduced Senate Bill 2362. SB 2362 as introduced was a shell bill, meaning that the substance of the ballot initiative was not filled out at the time of filing.

On March 8, 2013, the primary sponsor was changed to Senator James F. Clayborne, Jr. On March 14th it was assigned to the Agriculture and Conservation Committee.

On March 15th, Senator Clayborne introduced his first amendment.

SB 2362 is the first bill of its kind in the United States because it seeks to carve out all herpetofauna and to deal with them in a separate statutory section all to themselves. It is a proposed “herp code.” It states specifically that:

For purposes of this Act, reptiles and amphibians shall be exempt from the definition of “aquatic life” under Section 1-20 of the Fish and Aquatic Life Code. All rules and enforcement actions under the Illinois Conservation Law and the dangerous animals provisions in Section 48-10 of the Criminal Code of 2012 related to reptiles and amphibians shall be covered exclusively by this Act.

Under current Illinois law, it is illegal to privately keep any venomous or life threatening reptile. The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that pythons of 15′ in length are life threatening and therefore illegal.

SB 2362 would lift the prohibition on large constrictors currently in place, and instead proposes certain “captive maintenance requirements” as set forth in the bill are met.

SB 2362 would also make it legal to keep certain venomous snakes, crocodilians, Komodo dragons and crocodile monitor lizards with a permit only if used for bona fide educational purposes.

SB 2362 makes it unlawful to buy, sell or offer to sell any aquatic or semi-aquatic turtles with a carapace of under 4″ or their eggs in the state. This means that the Illinois State Department of Natural Resources could enforce the 4″ provision of aquatic or semi-aquatic turtles without USDA.

SB 2362 imposes insurance requirements and liability on owners of all of the “special use herptiles” within the bill and provides for criminal and civil penalties for noncompliance.

Exemptions:

• Public zoos or aquaria accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums;
• Licensed veterinarians or anyone operating under the authority of a licensed veterinarian;
• Wildlife sanctuaries;
• Accredited research or medical institutions;
• Licensed or accredited educational institutions;
• Circuses licensed and in compliance with the Animal Welfare Act and all rules adopted by the Department of Agriculture;
• Federal, State, and local law enforcement officers, including animal control officers acting under the authority of this Act;
• Members of federal, State, or local agencies approved by the Department;
• Any bonafide wildlife rehabilitation facility licensed or otherwise authorized by the Department; and
• Any motion picture or television production company that uses licensed dealers, exhibitors, and transporters under the federal Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C.
Courtesy of Herp Alliance which remains neutral on SB 2362 until they have fully analyzed all of its provisions. But as states so far I like it’s separation of herps from other animals, it’s a recognition that like in other laws concerning “dangerous animals” they are not an after thought but different kind of animal, needing different attention, traits that must be addressed. To me the most important advance is it “imposes insurance requirements and liability on owners of all of the “special use herptiles”. You want them, you have to be responsible for them. I hope it talks about minimum care requirements for a variety of species and looks into the problem of feral animals. What people must do if they no longer can possess these animals. Am I asking for too much? A comprehensive herp in captivity law?
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9) USFWS has announced that effective immediately, it will suspend all inspection and clearance of wildlife imports/exports during overtime hours on weekdays, weekends, or Federal Holidays.
This draconian measure is in response to the recent across the board budget cuts implemented by the White House as part of the budgetary sequester. As a result, shipments will be delayed and animals will be put needlessly at risk.
We urge USARK members to contact their U.S. Congressional Representative and Senators to ask that they restore these vital services to prevent the disruption of our businesses and the unnecessary loss of live or perishable wildlife/wildlife products.

This link will take you to the USARK Action Alert page or you can follow the steps below: http://usark.org/press-releases/action- ... perations/
(editor- If you like the trade or not, this means not only the inhumane treatment of animals, but possible massive deaths.)
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10) (editor- this week I sent out a notice about turtle races, we know there are also frog races, but not rattlesnake races? For 41 years. If it moves we will find someway to get make it entertaining so we can make a buck off them.)
By Erika Galindo/Special to the Caller-Times

CALLER-TIMES FILE 3/15/13 This weekend marks the 41st year that the World Championship Rattlesnake Races will take place in old San Patricio.
SAN PATRICIO — St. Patrick’s Day marks the 41st year that the World Championship Rattlesnake Races will take place in old San Patricio.
The festival, which is being sponsored by the San Patricio Restoration Society, has become a tradition in the area and organizers are hoping to see attendance of festival goers increase.
“Last year we saw about 13,500 people come to the festival,” said Stephen Moore, emcee for the races. “We’re hoping to break that record and get 15,000 people out for this weekend.”
Moore and his sons helped provide entertainment in past races by performing stunts with rattlesnakes including zipping themselves up in sleeping bags filled with several of the coldblooded creatures.
This year the ante will be upped with the inclusion of James White and the Outlaw Handlers, who will be performing more rattlesnake stunts at the main stage on Saturday, and Sunday.
With races set up tournament style, the public has an opportunity to get in on the action for the right to be called a world champion snake racer. The deciding heat will be the last race on Sunday where the winners from earlier races will battle it out.
The participants of the snake races must pay a $20 entry fee and be 18 years old or older, but Moore assures that they’ll be safe.
“We urge contestants to come dressed properly, but nobody should be worried about getting hurt,” Moore said. “We’ve been around for 41 years now, and we’ve yet to have a contestant bit.”
The Wounded Warrior Races will also be an opportunity for military veterans to participate in the snake races. There will be no charge for the first 20 who register.
If attendees are not particularly interested in rattlesnakes, there will also be interactive arena games at the festival that organizers hope will engage attendees of all ages.
“The festival is based largely on family entertainment. When you go to our festival, you’re part of the show,” Moore said. “We really hope folks get off the couch, put down those electronic gizmos and come out and play in our backyard.”
Included in games are hula-hoop contests, sack races and the cowboy and cowgirl races which also promise a new pair of boots sponsored by Botas Chihuahua of Corpus Christi for the winners.
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11) Snakes Slither to Brownwood Rattlesnake Roundup
By: Liz Gonzales, Updated: March 15, 2013
(editor: 149th annual...?)

Well the snakes may have been in Sweetwater last weekend, but now they've slivered on over to Brownwood for the 149th Annual Rattlesnake Round Up.

75 vendors fill the coliseum offering everything from handbags to jerseys to giant snakes.
And of course there's the snake pit. Over 60 snakes fill the enclosure with the famous rattle.
The fame will only continue Saturday and Sunday as Jackie Bibby performs his famous stunt show routines where it all began for him, right here in Brownwood.

With fun and excitement on every booth, the Jaycees remind us what this event is really all about.
"Jaycees is really big on going in and working with small businesses and try to lift up small businesses. So you're going to see a lot of events like where we bring in small businesses from Brownwood and try to lift them up," says Pat McLaughlin

The Jaycees hope the rattlesnake trend helps boost attendance this year and makes it their biggest round up yet.

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Turtles of the United States and Canada by Carl H. Ernst and Jeffrey E. Lovich
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[A] monumental work... the standard reference to North American turtles for the next generation of biologists. Every serious vertebrate biologist on the continent will want a copy. (Herpetological Review )
The most comprehensive compilation on North American turtles ever attempted and achieved.(Herpetofauna )
In 1972, C. H. Ernst completed the daunting task of compiling a sequel to A. F. Carr's (1952) landmark Handbook of Turtles. Two decades later, Ernst, this time with assistance from former student and fellow cheloniophile J. E. Lovich, has done it again. (Copeia )
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Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico volumes 1 and 2 -$75.00 each book, $13.00 S&H for both books, $6.00 S&H for only one book.

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Carl and Evelyn Ernst have completely revised their landmark reference Venomous Reptiles of North America to present the most comprehensive review of these animals in years. A review that now needs two volumes to complete. ;Volume One of this definitive work presented dramatically improved species accounts of the venomous lizards and elapid and viperid snakes found north of Mexico's twenty-fifth parallel.

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These volumes contain a wealth of information for anyone with an interest in venom, snakes, or herpetology in general.

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico Volume I & II, provides facts on each animal's diet, reproductive behavior, physiology, ecology, and conservation status. The book also covers details on snakebite, how venom is delivered, venom composition, antivenom production, and medical treatments of envenomation. Each species account includes vivid photographs that aid with identification and detailed maps that show the species range.

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Re: Herp- Digest Newsletter

Postby Philsuma » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:02 pm

sorry for the gap here folks...lost my subscription when I changed ISPs. Here's something new I received today.

Herpetological Review Volume #44 Issue (2) 7/31/13 (Courtesy ZenScientist)

Table of Contents: Alphabetical Order by Author

Alvarado, Joel B., Alex Alvarez and Ralph A. Saporito. 2013. Oophaga pumilio (strawberry poison frog) predation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 298. [ rsaporito@jcu.edu]
Angeli, Nicole F. 2013. Book Review: Cyclura-Natural History, Husbandry, and Conservation of West Indian Rock Iguanas. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 339-340. [ nangeli@tamu.edu]
Ariano-Sanchez, Daniel and Gilberto Salazar. 2013. Heloderma horridum charlesbogerti (Guatemalan beaded lizard) wild reproductive ecology. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 324. [ dariano@uvg.edu.gt]
Barber, Diane M. 2013. Phrynosoma cornutum (Texas horned lizard) predation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 326. [ dbarber@fortworthzoo.org]
Barragán-Ramírez, José Luis, Alejandro Oceguera-Figueroa, José de Jesús Ascencio-Arrayga, Fidel Rodriguez-Ramírez and José Luis Navarrete-Heredia. 2013. Kinosternon integrum (Mexican mud turtle) ectoparasites. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 305-306. [ barragan5478@yahoo.com.mx]
Batista, Vinicius Guerra, Igor de Paiva Affonso and Fabrício Hiroiuki Oda. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Hypsiboas caingua. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 270.
Bauer, Aaron M. 2013. Book Review: Frog. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 342-343. [ aaron.bauer@villanova.edu]
Baxter-Gilbert, James, Julia L. Riley and Jacqueline D. Litzgus. 2013. Chrysemys picta marginata (midland painted turtle) avian predation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 302-303. [ jx_baxtergilbert@laurentian.ca]
Baxter-Gilbert, James, Julia L. Riley and Jacqueline D. Litzgus. 2013. Chrysemys picta marginata (midland painted turtle), Emydoidea blandingii (Blanding's turtle) hatchling mortality. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 303-304. [ jx_baxtergilbert@laurentian.ca]
Bettelheim, Matthew P. 2013. Book Review: Western Pond Turtle: Biology, Sampling Techniques, Inventory and Monitoring, Conservation, and Management. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 341-342. [ matthew.bettelheim@urs.com]
Blanchard, Tom. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Opheodrys aestivus (rough green snake). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 275.
Blanchard, Tom. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis (eastern gartersnake). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 276.
Bletz, Molly C. and Reid N. Harris. 2013. Occurrence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis in Notophthalmus viridescens in Northwestern Virgina, USA. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 257-259. [ molly.bletz@gmail.com]
Boon-Hee, Kueh, Elangkumaran S/O Sagtia Siwan, Norasmil Ismail, Juelber Albert, Cindy Lau En Shing and Vyner Bayang Anak Ngingang. 2013. Pelophryne misera (Kinabalu dwarf toad) novel microhabitat and maximum size. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 298-299. [ kbhkelvin@hotmail.com]
Bovo, Rafael P. 2013. Scinax fuscovarius (snouted treefrog) predation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 300. [ rpbovo@yahoo.com.br]
Brischoux, Francois, Stuart Peacock and Xavier Bonnet. 2013. Laticauda spp. (sea krait) avian predation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 331-332. [ francois.brischoux@gmail.com]
Britton, Adam and Erin Britton. 2013. Crocodylus porosus (saltwater crocodile) fishing behavior. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 312. [ abritton@crocodilian.com]
Brothers, David. 2013. Anolis carolinensis (green anole) feeding behavior. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 313. [ dbrothers@zooatlanta.org]
Bueno, Cecília, Luciana Barreto and Iara Alves Novelli. 2013. Leposternon sp. predation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 325-326. [ cecilia.bueno@pobox.com]
Burger, R. Michael. 2013. Lampropeltis calligaster (prairie kingsnake) diet. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 330-331. [ ungaliophis@gmail.com]
Burger, R. Michael. 2013. Thamnophis proximus (western ribbonsnake) necrophilia. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 335. [ ungaliophis@gmail.com]
Butler, Richard D. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Lithobates areolatus (crawfish frog). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 270.
Byer, Nathan, Kaite Anderson and Richard Seigel. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Hemidactylus mabouia (wood slave). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 273.
Camardelli, Milena, Marlla Alves Matos and Euvaldo Jr. Marciano. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Leposoma puk. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 273-274.
Casteñeda, Franklin E., James R. McCranie and Luis A. Herrera. 2013. Staurotypus triporcatus (giant musk turtle, guao do tres filas) predation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 309. [ fcastandeda@panthera.org]
César, Malambo L., Mario A. Madrid-Ordóñez, Alexander Velásquez-Valencia, Julieth A. Zapata-Ortiz and Diana C. Aristizábal-Valbuena. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Dendropsophus miyatai (Hosteria La Selva treefrog). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 270.
Chan, Hon-Ki and Alex Figueroa. 2013. Xenophrys brachykolos (short-legged toad) diet. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 301-302. [ honkichan@gmail.com]
Colombo, Marco. 2013. Chalcides ocellatus (ocellated skink) spider predation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 320-321. [ oryctes@libero.it]
Cook, David G. and Dennis Haussler. 2013. Ctenosaura hemilopha (Baja California spiny-tailed iguana) dispersal phenomenon. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 321-322. [ dcook@scwa.ca.gov]
Cordes, James E. and James M. Walker. 2013. Aspidoscelis velox (plateau striped whiptail) bifurcation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 319. [ jcordes@lsue.edu]
Courtois, Elodie A., Célia Lelong, Olivier Calvez, Adeline Loyau and Dirk S. Schmeller. 2013. The use of visible implant alpha tags for anuran tadpoles. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 230-233. [ ds@die-schmellers.de]
Cruz-Lizano, Ivan, José F. Gonzalez-Maya and Armando H. Escobedo-Galván. 2013. Leptophis ahaetulla (giant parrotsnake) reproduction. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 332. [ jfgonzalezmaya@gmail.com]
D'Orgeix, Christian A., Tom Mathies, Brooke L. Ellison, Kelsey L. Johnson, Ivan V. Monagan and Todd A. Young. 2013. Northern Mexican gartersnakes, Thamnophis eques megalops, feeding on Spea multiplicata in an ephemeral pond. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 213-215. [ cdorgeix@vsu.edu]
Da Fonte, Luis Fernando Marin and Gabriele Volkmer. 2013. Scinax squalirostris (striped snouted treefrog) predation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 300. [ pulchella@gmail.com]
Da Fonte, Luis Fernando Marin and Gabriele Volkmer. 2013. Scinax squalirostris (striped snouted treefrog), Scinax aromothyella morbid embrace. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 300-301. [ pulchella@gmail.com]
Da Rocha, Sabine Borges and Fernando Ibanez Martins. 2013. Physalaemus gracilis (graceful dwarf frog) defensive behavior. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 299. [ sabineborges@hotmail.com]
Das, Indraneil. 2013. Bronchocela cristatella (crested green lizard) attempted prey. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 319-320. [ idas@ibec.unimas.my]
Davis, Drew R. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Lampropeltis calligaster (yellow-bellied kingsnake). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 275.
de Freitas, Marco Antonio and Geraldo Jorge Barbosa de Moura. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Tupinambis quadrilineatus. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 274.
de Oliveira, Elciomar Araujo, Emil José Hernández-Ruz, Joyce Celerino De Carvalho and Damires Sanches. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Pseudopaludicola canga. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 271.
de Oliveira, Elciomar Araujo, Emil José Hernández-Ruz, Joyce Celerino De Carvalho, Marcos Diones Ferreira Santana, Leandro Wronsk Da Silva and Kleiton Rabelo de Araújo. 2013. Mastigodryas boddaerti (Boddaert's tropical racer) reproduction. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 332. [ ramoiclebio@yahoo.com.br]
Delaney, David M., Aaron M. Reedy, Timothy S. Mitchell, Andrew M. Durso, Kevin P. Durso, Alexandra J. Morrison and Daniel A. Warner. 2013. Anolis sagrei (brown anole) nest-site choice. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 314. [ dmdelaney3@eiu.edu]
Dipple, Kathleen M., Grant M. Connette and Raymond D. Semlitsch. 2013. Behavior of Plethodon metcalfi following anesthetization with Tricaine Methanesulfonate (MS-222). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 215-218. [ grmcco@gmail.com]
Dodge, Derec, Noah Flanigan, Joshua A. Miller, Taylor Walls, Raymond Wright and Brian T. Miller. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Necturus maculosus (mudpuppy). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 269.
Dodge, Derec and Brian T. MIller. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Agkistrodon piscivorus leucostoma (western cottonmouth). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 274.
Duffus, A. L. J., R. A. Nichols and T. W. J. Garner. 2013. Investigations into the life history stages of the common frog (Rana temporaria) affected by an amphibian ranavirus in the United Kingdom. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 260-263. [ aduffus@gordonstate.edu]
Duncan, Neil. 2013. Using a handheld PIT scanner and antenna system to successfully locate terrestrially overwintering hatchling turtles. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 233-235. [ duncan@amnh.org]
Dustman, Emily A. 2013. Sex identification in the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina): A new technique and evaluation of previous methods. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 235-238. [ emily.dustman@gmail.com]
Elsey, Ruth M. 2013. Alligator mississippiensis (American alligator) long term survival of farm-released juvenile. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 309-310. [ relsey@wlf.la.gov]
Elsey, Ruth M. and Ricky Flynt. 2013. Alligator mississippiensis (American alligator) interstate movement of alligators. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 310-312. [ relsey@wlf.la.gov]
Farr, William L. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Hemidactylus turcicus (Mediterranean gecko). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 273.
Felix, Zach I. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Eurycea guttolineata (three-lined salamander). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 269.
Felix, Zach I. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens (eastern newt). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 269.
Felix, Zach I. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Pseudemys concinna (river cooter). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 272.
Felix, Zach I. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Aspidoscelis sexlineata (six-lined racerunner). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 273.
Felix, Zach I. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Heterodon platirhinos (eastern hognose snake). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 275.
Félix-Silva, Daniely, Emil José Hernández-Ruz, Manoela Wariss Figueiredo and Juarez Carlos Brito Pezzuti. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Pelodiscus sinensis (Chinese softshell turtle). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 272.
Flaherty, James P. and Glenn Johnson. 2013. Emydoidea blandingii (Blanding's turtle) foraging and diet. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 304. [ jflaherty1@my.apsu.edu]
Folt, Brian. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Hemidactylum scutatum (four-toed salamander). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 269.
Folt, Brian, Todd Pierson, Jeffrey Goessling, Scott M. Goetz, David Laurencio, Daniel Thompson and Sean P. Graham. 2013. Amphibians and reptiles of Jasper County, Mississippi, with comments on the potentially extinct Bay Springs salamander (Plethodon ainsworthi). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 283-286. [ brian.folt@gmail.com]
Gandola, Robert, Roger Poland, Mamy Rabenoro, Stuart Graham and Catriona Hendry. 2013. Crocodylus niloticus (Nile crocodile) diet. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 312. [ robertgandola747@hotmail.com]
Goldberg, Stephen R. 2013. Dipsosaurus dorsalis (desert iguana) reproductin Baja California Sur. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 322-323. [ Sgoldberg@whittier.edu]
Goldberg, Stephen R., Charles R. Bursey, Laurie J. Vitt and Jeanette Arreola. 2013. Copeglossum nigropunctatus endoparasites. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 321. [ sgoldberg@whittier.edu]
Goldberg, Stephen R., Charles R. Bursey, Laurie J. Vitt and Jeanette Arreola. 2013. Leposoma parietale endoparasites. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 324-325. [ sgoldberg@whittier.edu]
Goldberg, Stephen R., Charles R. Bursey, Laurie J. Vitt and Jeanette Arreola. 2013. Leposoma percarinautm (Muller's tegu) endoparasites. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 325. [ sgoldberg@whittier.edu]
González-Duran, Gustavo and Paul David Alfonso Gutiérrez-Cárdenas. 2013. Leptodactylus savagei (Savage's thin-toed frog) prey. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 294-295. [ gustavo.gonzalezdu@gmail.com]
Graham, Sean P. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Desmognathus aeneus (seepage salamander). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 268-269.
Gray, Brian S., Mark Lethaby, Ned McAllister and Scott Bloomstine. 2013. Storeria occipitomaculata (red-bellied snake) diet. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 335. [ brachystoma@hotmail.com]
Greene, Lacey and Tammy Branston. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Anaxyrus woodhousii woodhousii (Rocky Mountain toad). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 270.
Hazard, Lisa C. 2013. Salvadora hexalepis (western patch-nosed snake) foraging behavior. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 334-335. [ hazardl@mail.montclair.edu]
Hecnar, Stephen J. and Darlene R. Hecnar. 2013. Within pond selection of water depth for oviposition in Abystoma maculatum. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 218-221. [ shecnar@lakeheadu.ca]
Henry, Taylor S. 2013. Sceloporus occidentalis longipes (Great Basin fence lizard) diet. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 329. [ taylorshenry@yahoo.com]
Holbrook, Joshua D. 2013. Nerodia taxisplota (brown watersnake) diet. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 333. [ jholbro8@fau.edu]
Hydeman, Marina E., Rayna C. Bell, Robert C. Drewes and Kelly R. Zamudio. 2013. Amphibian chytrid fungus confirmed in endemic frogs and caecilians on the island of Sao Tomé, Africa. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 254-257. [ rcb269@cornell.edu]
Jachowski, C. M. Bodinof and W. A. Hopkins. 2013. Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis (eastern hellbender). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 292. [ cjachowski@vt.edu]
Jacinto-Maldonado, Monica, Ricardo Paredes-León, Gerardo Suzán and Andrés García. 2013. Leptodactylus melanonotus (Sabinal frog) endoparasitism. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 294. [ acinom_80@hotmail.com]
Kaiser, Bernard W., Kimberly J. Osorio, Kevin M. Enge and Richard M. Engeman. 2013. Tupinambis merianae (Argentine giant tegu); Pantherophis guttatus (red cornsnake) non-predatory killing. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 329. [ richard.m.engeman@aphis.usda.gov]
Kamali, Kamran. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Acanthodactylus micropholis (Persian fringe-toed lizard). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 272-273.
Kamali, Kamran. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Mesalina brevirostris (Blanford's short-nosed desert lizard). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 274.
Kamali, Kamran. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Stenodactylus affinis (Iranian short-fingered gecko). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 274.
Kapfer, Joshua M., Kerry Katovich, Gregor W. Schuurman, Rori A. Paloski and Brian L. Sloss. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Thamnophis butleri (Butler's gartersnake). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 276.
Kasper, Stephen. 2013. Kinosternon flavescens flavescens (yellow mud turtle) road-carrion feeding. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 305. [ skasper@mail.ci.lubbock.tx.us]
Kasper, Stephen. 2013. Rhinocheilus lecontei tessellatus (Texas long-nosed snake) defensive behavior and attempted predation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 334. [ skasper@mail.ci.lubbock.tx.us]
Kasper, Stephen and Franklin D. Yancey, II. 2013. Lithobates berlandieri (Rio Grande leopard frog) learned feeding behavior and diet. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 295. [ skasper@mail.ci.lubbock.tx.us]
Katz, Hadas Ketter, G. Katzir, A. Lustig and Rachel Ben-Shlomo. 2013. DNA extraction from the fecal sac of common chameleions, Chamaeleo chameleon. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 238-240. [ Hadasketter@yahoo.com
ekly@research.haifa.ac.il]
Keely, Claire C. and Susana P. Maldonado. 2013. Litoria raniformis (growling grass frog) leucism. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 297. [ c.keely@pgrad.unimelb.edu.au]
Kessler, Ethan J., Andrew R. Kuhns, John A. Crawford, Chris A. Phillips, Eric M. Wright, Whitney J. B. Anthonysamy, Terry L. Esker, Jim Gillespie, Letitia J. Jacques and R. Scott Saffer. 2013. New county records of reptiles and amphibians from state managed properties in East-Central Illinois, USA. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 286-288. [ ekessle2@illinois.edu]
Klemish, Jaimie L., Nathan J. Engbrecht and Michael J. Lannoo. 2013. Positioning minnow traps in wetlands to avoid accidental deaths of frogs. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 241-242. [ jklemish@sycamores.indstate.edu]
Klueh, Sarabeth and Jason Mirtl. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Notophthalmus viridescens (eastern newt). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 269.
Klueh, Sarabeth and Jason Mirtl. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Plethodon glutinosis (northern slimy salamander). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 270.
Klueh, Sarabeth and Jason Mirtl. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Pseudacris crucifer (spring peeper). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 270-271.
Klueh, Sarabeth and Jason Mirtl. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Trachemys scripta elegans (red-eared slider). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 272.
Klueh, Sarabeth and Jason Mirtl. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Carphophis amoenus helenae (midwestern wormsnake). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 274.
Köhler, Gunther, Joseph Vargas, Johannes J. Köhler and Milan Vesel´y. 2013. Noteworthy distributional records of amphibians and reptiles from Costa Rica. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 280-283. [ gkoehler@senckenberg.de]
Kraus, Fred. 2013. Further range extensions for reptiles and amphibians from Papua New Guinea. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 277-280. [ fkraus@umich.edu]
Lara-Resendiz, Rafael A., Diego M. Arenas-Moreno and Fernando I. Valle-Jimenez. 2013. Phyllodactylus tuberculosis (yellow-bellied gecko) body temperature. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 327-328. [ rlara@ibiologia.unam.mx]
Lara-Resendiz, Rafael A. and Aníbal H. De La Vega-Pérez. 2013. Sceloporus grammicus (mesquite lizard) selected body temperature. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 328-329. [ rlara@ibiologia.unam.mx]
Lara-Resendiz, Rafael A., Hector Gadsden and Fausto R. Mendez-de la Cruz. 2013. Phrynosoma cornutum (Texas horned lizard) nocturnal activity. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 326-327. [ rlara@ibiologia.unam.mx]
Lee, Ch'ien, Yanee Emang, Hamir B. Kiprawil and Indraneil Das. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Theloderma horridum (thorny bush frog). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 271.
Lemm, Jeffrey M., Brett A. Gaborko and Matthias C. Lemm. 2013. Lampropeltis getula californiae (California kingsnake) elevation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 331. [ jlemm@sandiegozoo.org]
Loehr, Victor J. T. 2013. Homopus femoralis (greater padloper) reproduction. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 304-305. [ loehr@homopus.org]
Longo, Ana V., Alberto López-Torres, Carlos A. Rodríguez-Gómez and Jan P. Zegarra. 2013. Eleutherodactylus cooki (Coquí guajón) nesting site. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 293. [ avl7@cornell.edu]
Lötters, Stefan. 2013. Book Review: Tadpoles of Africa. The Biology and Identification of All Known Tadpoles in Sub-Saharan Africa. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 340-341. [ loetters@uni-trier.de]
Lynum, Paul and Jason Pike. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Lichanura trivirgata trivirgata (Mexican rosy boa). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 275.
Malambo-L, Cesar, Mario A. Madrid-Ordoñez, Alexander Velasquez-Valencia, Julieth A. Zapata-Ortiz and Diana C. Aristizábal-Valbuena. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Dendropsophus miyatai (Hosteria La Selva treefrog). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 270.
Matos, Marlla Alves, Milena Camardelli and Euvaldo Marciociano, Jr. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Alexandresaurus camcan (Alexandre's lizard, calanguinho do Alexandre). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 273.
Mays, Jonathan D. and Trevor B. Persons. 2013. Chrysemys picta picta (eastern painted turtle) morphology. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 304. [trevor.persons.nau.edu]
McAllister, Chris T., Lance A. Durden and Paul S. Freed. 2013. Chelonoidis chilensis (Argentine tortoise) ectoparasite. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 302. [ cmcallister@se.edu]
McAllister, Chris T. and Nikolas H. McAllister. 2013. Lithobates clamitans melanotus (green frog) unusual food item. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 295-296. [ cmcallister@se.edu]
McCranie, James R., Leonardo Valdés Orellana and Alexander Gutsche. 2013. New departmental records for amphibians and reptiles in Honduras. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 288-289. [ jmccrani@bellsouth.net]
McNeill, Joanne Braun, Amy M. Schueller, Larisa Avens, April Goodman Hall, Lisa R. Goshe and Sheryan P. Epperly. 2013. Estimates of tag loss for loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta) in Western North Atlantic. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 221-226. [ Joanne.B.McNeill@noaa.gov]
Medina-Rangel, Guido F. 2013. Anadia bogotensis (Bogota anadia lizard) nesting. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 312-313. [ guidofabianmedina@gmail.com]
Melo-Sampaio, Paulo Roberto and Camila Monteiro Braga De Oliveira. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Vitreorana oyampiensis (Zidok Cochran frog). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 271.
Mendes-Júnior, Raimundo Nonato Gomes, Huann Carllo Gentil Vasconcelos, Thays Sanches Goncalves and Rafael de Fraga. 2013. Helicops angulatus (brown-banded watersnake) diet. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 330. [ eelectricus@yahoo.com.br]
Metcalfe, Dean C. and Trevor J. Hawkeswood. 2013. Pogona barbata (eastern bearded dragon) diet. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 328. [ dean_metcalfe@yahoo.com.au]
Metzger, Cheryl J. 2013. Python molurus bivittatus (Burmese python) habitat use / occurrence within Gopherus polyphemus burrows. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 333-334. [ metzger_cj@yahoo.com]
MIller, Joshua A., Noah Flanigan and Brian T. Miller. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Necturus maculosus (mudpuppy). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 269.
Mirghazanfari, Seyyed Mehdi. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Tropiocolotes latifi (Latifi's dwarf gecko). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 274.
Moldowan, Patrick D., David L. LeGros and Glenn J. Tattersall. 2013. Lithobates sylvaticus (wood frog) davian behavior. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 296-297. [ pmoldowa@uoguelph.ca]
Monsen-Collar, Kirsten, Lisa Hazard and Paola Dolcemascolo. 2013. A Ranavirus-related mortality event and the first report of Ranavirus in New Jersey. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 263-265. [ monsenk@mail.montclair.edu]
Munscher, Eric C. and Anthony Braden. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Coluber flagellum testaceus (western coachwhip). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 274-275.
Murai, Syoichi, Teppei Jono and Yoshihito Hongo. 2013. Gekko japonicus (Japanese gecko) sap feeding. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 323-324. [ ra25347@dj8.so-net.ne.jp]
Murphy, James B. 2013. Deadly encounters by and upon crocodilians depicted in historical illustrations and accounts. Part 1. Assaults by crocodilians. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 196-207. [ murphyj@si.edu]
Murphy, James B. and Hoabrt M. Smith. 2013. Obituary: In Memoriam: David Alfred Chiszar (1944-2013), with reflections from colleagues and friends. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 186-195. [ murphyj@si.edu]
Murray, Ian W. and Hilary M. Lease. 2013. Phrynosoma hernandesi (greater short-horned lizard) predation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 327. [ imurray@unm.edu]
Newsom, Christopher. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Tropidoclonion lineatum (lined snake). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 276.
Nifong, James C., Russell H. Lowers, Brian R. Silliman, Kyler Abernathy and Greg Marshall. 2013. Attachment and deployment of remote video/audio recording devices (crittercams) on wild American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 243-247. [ ncboy@ufl.edu]
Novelli, Iara Alves, Bernadete Maria De Sousa, Sueli de Souza Lima and Fabiano Matos Vieira. 2013. Phrynops geoffroanus (Geoffroy's side-necked turtle) endoparasite. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 308. [ iaranovelli27@gmail.com]
O'Shea, Mark. 2013. Book Review: Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico (Volumes 1 & 2). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 337-338. [ oshea@markoshea.info]
Outerbridge, Mark E. and John Davenport. 2013. Malaclemys terrapin (diamond-backed terrapin) dredging foraging behavior. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 307-308. [ mouterbridge@gov.bm]
Palis, John G. 2013. Siren intermedia (lesser siren) predation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 292-293. [ jpalis@yahoo.com]
Petersen, Frederic F., Alan de Queiroz, Chris R. Feldman and Joseph R. Mendelson, III. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Trachemys scripta (pond slider). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 272.
Pierson, Todd W., Yan Fang and Yunyu Wang. 2013. Scutiger boulengeri (Xizang alpine toad) nesting. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 301. [ twpierso@uga.edu]
Powell, Sylvia D., Kelly C. Jones, Thomas A. Gorman and Carola A. Haas. 2013. Ambystoma bishopi (reticulated flatwoods salamander) egg survival after fire. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 290-291. [ sylvie@vt.edu]
Quintero-Díaz, Gustavo Ernesto, Rarámuri Reyes-Ardit, Christian Martin García-Balderas, Daniela Valdéz-Jiménez, Carolina Chávez-Floriano, Martín Muñíz-Salas and Cynthia Sosa-Vargas. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Ctenosaura pectinata (western spiny-tailed iguana). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 273.
Rabatsky, Ali, Travis LaDuc and Brad R. Moon. 2013. Crotalus catalinensis (Santa Catalina Island rattlesnake) diet. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 329-330. [ ali.rabastky@palmer.edu]
Rabe, Allison, Michael Lannoo and Christopher K. Beachy. 2013. Lithobates pipiens (northern leopard frog) malformation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 296. [ mlannoo@iupui.edu]
Radi, Alexander and Christopher K. Beachy. 2013. Ambystoma mavortium (barred tiger salamander) behavior underneath the ice. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 291-292. [ alexander.radi22@gmail.com]
Rahman, Shahriar Caesar. 2013. Python molurus bivittatus (Burmese python) reproduction / nesting. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 334. [ caesar_rahman2004@yahoo.com]
Ramos-Pallares, Eliana, Fabio L. Meza-Joya and Martha P. Ramírez-Pinilla. 2013. A case of communal egg laying in a population of Cercosaura ampuedai (Squamata: Gymnophthalmidae) in the Colombian Andes. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 226-229. [ elianar86@gmail.com]
Rausch, Benjamin A. and Richard S. Phillips. 2013. The effect of temperature on weight gain in hatchling Mexican kingsnakes, Lampropeltis mexicana. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 251-253. [ s13.brausch@wittenberg.edu]
Ray, Parimal Chandra, Diana Ethel Amonge and Mousumi Rajbongshi. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Rhacophorus suffry (Suffry red-webbed treefrog). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 271.
Ream, Kelsey A. and Kelsey E. Reider. 2013. Anolis oxylophus (stream anole) peccary wallows as novel habitat. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 313-314. [ reamk@allegheny.edu]
Ressel, Stephen Joseph and Edward Edmond Monet, III. 2013. Thamnophis sirtalis (common gartersnake) open sea-water swimming. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 335. [ sjr@coa.edu]
Rodrigues, Joao Fabricio Mota and José Roberto Feitosa Silva. 2013. Phrynops tuberosus (Cotinga River toad-headed turtle) bifid tail. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 308-309. [ fabriciorodrigues303@gmail.com]
Sarker, Md. Abdur Razzaque. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Zakerana teraiensis (Terai cricket frog). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 271.
Schalk, Christopher M. and Doris Ticona. 2013. Rhinella schneideri (Rococo toad) breeding site. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 299-300. [ cschalk@tamu.edu]
Seefelt, Nancy E., James C. Gillingham, Patrick D. Farrell, Lorrin A. Ortmann, Desiree R. Rasmer and Kenneth D. Bowen. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Plethodon cinereus (eastern red-backed salamander). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 269-270.
Seefelt, Nancy E., James C. Gillingham, Patrick D. Farrell, Lorrin A. Ortmann, Desiree R. Rasmer and Kenneth D. Bowen. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Chrysemys picta marginata (midland painted turtle). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 272.
Seefelt, Nancy E., James C. Gillingham, Patrick D. Farrell, Lorrin A. Ortmann, Desiree R. Rasmer and Kenneth D. Bowen. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Storeria dekayii (Dekay's brownsnake). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 275-276.
Selman, Will, Ben Stultz, Jon J. Wiebe, Ariel White and Mark Camacho. 2013. Malaclemys terrapin (diamond-backed terrapin) coastal erosian and nest mortality. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 306-307. [ wselman@wlf.la.gov]
Senzano, Marco and Christopher M. Schalk. 2013. Leptodactylus bufonis (oven frog) predation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 293-294. [ marco_23735@hotmail.com]
Shea, Glenn. 2013. Book Review: Erpétologie Générale ou Histoire Naturelle Compléte des Reptiles. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 336-337. [ glenn.shea@sydney.edu.au]
Shedd, Jackson D. and Jack Goldfarb. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Crotaphytus bicinctores (Great Basin collared lizard). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 273.
Steen, David A., Dirk J. Stevenson, Jeffrey C. Beane, John D. Willson, Matthew J. Aresco, James C. Godwin, Sean P. Graham, Lora J. Smith, Jennifer M. Howse, D. Craig Rudolph, Josh B. Pierce, James R. Lee, Beau B. Gregory, John Jensen, Sierra H. Stiles, James A. Stiles, Nathan H. Nazdrowicz and Craig Guyer. 2013. Terrestrial movements of the red-bellied mudsnake (Farancia abacura) and rainbow snake (F. erytrogramma). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 208-213. [ DavidASteen@gmail.com]
Stevenson, Dirk J. and Kevin M. Enge. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Rhadinaea flavilata (pine woods littersnake). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 275.
Stroud, James T. and Kenneth L. Krysko. 2013. Ctenosaura similis (Gray's spiny-tailed iguana) non-native diet. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 322. [ JamesTStroud@gmail.com]
Sutton, William B., Than J. Boves and N. Emily Boves. 2013. Nerodia sipedon sipedon (northern watersnake) feeding behavior. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 333. [ billsutton.wv@gmail.com]
Sy, Emerson Y. and Ernest Kurt Tan. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Gonyosoma oxycephalum (red-tailed green ratsnake). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 275.
Tedesco, Maria Esther, Juan Manuel Céspedez, Jorge A. Céspedez and Maxi Romero. 2013. Cercosaura schreibersii (long-tailed little lizard) defnesive behavior. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 320. [ tikytedesco@yahoo.com.ar]
Tingle, Jessica. 2013. Developing an undergraduate herpetology club at Cornell University. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 185-187. [ jlt83@cornell.edu]
Titus, Valorie R. and Timothy M. Green. 2013. Presence of Ranavirus in green frogs and eastern tiger salamanders on Long Island, New York. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 266-267. [ vtitus7@mac.com]
Trauth, Stanley E., James M. Walker and James E. Cordes. 2013. Aspidoscelis laredoensis x Aspidoscelis gularis (Laredo striped whiptail x Texas spotted whiptail) hybrid gynandromorph. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 314-316. [ strauth@astate.edu]
Trauth, Stanley E., James M. Walker and James E. Cordes. 2013. Aspidoscelis laredoensis x Aspidoscelis gularis (Laredo striped whiptail x Texas spotted whiptail) spermatogenesis. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 316-318. [ strauth@astate.edu]
Veríssimo, Diogo and Gabriel Dos Santos Oquiongo. 2013. Schistometopum thomense (São Tomé caecilian) predation. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 290. [ verissimodiogo@gmail.com]
Walker, James M., James E. Cordes, Douglas W. Burkett and James F. Scudday. 2013. Aspidoscelis neomexicana (New Mexico whiptail) habitat. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 318-319. [ jmwalker@uark.edu]
Wallin, Tanya, James R. Lee and Thomas G. Jackson, Jr. 2013. Micrurus fulvius (harlequin coralsnake) diet. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 332. [ twallin@tnc.org]
Waters, Nick D. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Lampropeltis zonata (California mountain kingsnake). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 275.
Welbourne, Dustin. 2013. A method for surveying diurnal terrestrial reptiles with passive infrared automatically triggered cameras. Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 247-250. [ d.welbourne@student.unsw.edu.au]
Wild, Erik R. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Hemidactylum scutatum (four-toed salamander). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 269.
Wild, Erik R. 2013. Geographic Distribution: Notophthalmus viridescens (eastern newt). Herpetological Review. 44 (2): 269.

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Re: Herp- Digest Newsletter

Postby Philsuma » Sun Aug 04, 2013 7:55 am

Volume # 13 Issue # 32 8/5/13
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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HerpDigest is a non-profit organization that is totally dependent on your generosity for its continued existence. Please feel free to make a donation.

But First Think: How much is HerpDigest worth to you? As a reader? As someone who uses HerpDigest to get an announcement out of a meeting, call for abstracts, interns, volunteers.

How much was it worth to have HerpDigest around to get out the news about pending laws and regulations as with the NYS Snapping Turtle Bill, Snapperfest and more. $25. $50. $75. $100?????????

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Each Issue a New Book(s) Will go on Sale for A Limited Time Period. Usually One to Two Weeks. Prices will vary from Full price to 3/4 off list price.


READ THIS BOOK BEFORE YOU BUY A TURTLE OR TORTOISE

Don’t let the title fool you, “Turtles & Tortoises for Dummies” by Liz Palika, (author of over 20 pet care books) is full of information on over 100 different kinds of turtles and tortoises, and is a great cheap way to find out if a turtle or tortoise is the pet for you and/or your child.

“Turtles & Tortoises for Dummies” has over 280 pages of information on habitat (indoors or outdoors) and nutritional needs. (Such as should you feed a turtle or tortoise iceberg lettuce?) Turtles such as the red-eared slider (remember those little green turtles many of us had as kids- well is the advertised price of the turtle the real cost of the turtle when you add its home and food, Of course not. But by how much?) to the now commonly sold Sulcata tortoise. (Just how big do they grow?)

This book will tell you how to tell a healthy turtle from a sick one, answer the question if you should you get captive bred versus wild-caught, explain the various local to international laws concerning their ownership. And more. Much more.

The book’s list price is $21.99, But you can have it for only $14.95 plus $5.00 for S&H. (S&H costs for overseas orders, contact us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org) (See the bottom of this newsletter on how to order.)

This book will help you find out if buying one for your child is a smart move. (And contrary to what the seller of the turtle will tell you, zoos do not accept donations of unwanted pet turtles.)

This already discounted book can save you hundreds of dollars.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:

1) With Arrests, Signs of Justice in Slaying of Costa Rican Turtle Guardian
2) New Approach to Treating Venomous Snakebites Could Reduce Global Fatalities
3) Study dials up western pond turtles
4) Crocodiles may need their fruity five-a-day
5) 300 pet turtles take refuge in Atocha railway station, Madrid
6) We've been asking the wrong questions about conservation
7) Pesticides Contaminate Frogs from Californian National Parks
8) Why Can't the Snakes Cross the Road, Secret Lives of Baby Snakes and Other Questions
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The Herp Book Bargain of the Century, 20th and 21st.

Only one copy left- The Frogs and Toads of North America- A Comprehensive Guide to the Identification, Behavior and Calls, Includes a CD of all Frog and Toad Calls, $19.95 plus $6.00 S&H in US, (Overseas orders, contact us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org) 350 pages, over 300 color photos. (See the bottom of this newsletter on how to order.)
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1) With Arrests, Signs of Justice in Slaying of Costa Rican Turtle Guardian
By ANDREW C. REVKIN, New York Times, “Dot Earth Blog” 8/2/13
In a series of raids early Wednesday morning in Limón province, Costa Rican police arrested eight suspects in the May murder of Jairo Mora, a 26-year-old environmental worker protecting sea turtle nesting beaches.

Two months after the murder of Jairo Mora Sandoval, a 26-year-old environmental worker trying to prevent egg poaching from leatherback turtle nests in Costa Rica, authorities made the first arrests on Wednesday in a series of raids in and around Limón, on the Caribbean coast.
The arrests came as both domestic and international pressure for action grew. Demonstrations were held this week in the capital. On Thursday, the Tico Times reported that John Knox, a United Nations official focused on the intersection of human rights and the environment visiting the country, held a news conference in which he made this point:
“It’s not the task of social organizations, civil society or citizens to put their own lives at risk to protect the environment. These are police functions that have to be adequately carried out by the government,” Knox said. “It’s one thing to protect turtle eggs from tourists, it’s another to protect them from poachers….” [Read the rest.]
Earlier this month Representative Jared Huffman, Democrat of California, urged Secretary of State John Kerry to press Costa Rica to pursue justice in the case, noting that three American women and a Spanish woman who were volunteers in the turtle protection effort had been abducted in the same incident (they escaped).
For the moment, the motives behind the slaying remain murky. A detailed Tico Times article on the raids describes conflicting theories about the murder. Police are pointing to evidence of a simple robbery by a violent gang, but conservationists assert there were signs that efforts to stem egg poaching may have led to the killing.
Hopefully the truth will out and justice will be done. Earlier Dot Earth posts on the murder are here. Track the latest developments through the Twitter hashtag #JairoMora.
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2) New Approach to Treating Venomous Snakebites Could Reduce Global Fatalities
July 30, 2013 — Science Daily- A team of researchers led by Dr. Matt Lewin of the California Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with the Department of Anesthesia at the University of California, San Francisco, has pioneered a novel approach to treating venomous snakebites -- administering antiparalytics topically via a nasal spray. This new, needle-free treatment may dramatically reduce the number of global snakebite fatalities, currently estimated to be as high as 125,000 per year.
The team demonstrated the success of the new treatment during a recent experiment conducted at UCSF; their results have been published in the medical journal Clinical Case Reports.
Snakebite is one of the most neglected of tropical diseases -- the number of fatalities is comparable to that of AIDS in some developing countries. It has been estimated that 75% of snakebite victims who die do so before they ever reach the hospital, predominantly because there is no easy way to treat them in the field. Antivenoms provide an imperfect solution for a number of reasons -- even if the snake has been identified and the corresponding antivenom exists, venomous bites often occur in remote locations far from population centers, and antivenoms are expensive, require refrigeration, and demand significant expertise to administer and manage.
"In addition to being an occupational hazard for field scientists, snakebite is a leading cause of accidental death in the developing world, especially among otherwise healthy young people," says Lewin, the Director of the Center for Exploration and Travel Health at the California Academy of Sciences. "We are trying to change the way people think about this ancient scourge and persistent modern tragedy by developing an inexpensive, heat-stable, easy-to-use treatment that will at least buy people enough time to get to the hospital for further treatment."
In his role as Director of the Academy's Center for Exploration and Travel Health, Lewin prepares field medicine kits for the museum's scientific expeditions around the world and often accompanies scientists as the expedition doctor. In 2011, Lewin put together snakebite treatment kits for the Academy's Hearst Philippine Biodiversity Expedition, which would have required scientists to inject themselves if they needed treatment. When he saw their apprehension about the protocol, Lewin began to wonder if there might be an easier way to treat snakebite in the field.
In some fatal snakebites, victims are paralyzed by the snake's neurotoxins, resulting in death by respiratory failure. A group of common drugs called anticholinesterases have been used for decades to reverse chemically-induced paralysis in operating rooms and, in intravenous form, to treat snakebite when antivenoms are not available or not effective. However, it is difficult to administer intravenous drugs to treat snakebite outside of a hospital, so Lewin began to explore the idea of a different delivery vehicle for these antiparalytics -- a nasal spray.
In early April of 2013, Lewin and a team of anesthesiologists, led by Dr. Philip Bickler at UCSF Medical Center, designed and completed a complex experiment that took place at the medical center. During the experiment, a healthy human volunteer was paralyzed, while awake, using a toxin that mimics that of cobras and other snakes that disable their victims by paralysis. The experimental paralysis mimicked the effects of neurotoxic snakebite, progressing from eye muscle weakness all the way to respiratory difficulty, in the same order as is usually seen in envenomation. The team then administered the nasal spray and within 20 minutes the patient had recovered. The results of this experiment were published online in the medical journal, Clinical Case Reports.
Later in April, Lewin delivered one of the keynote addresses, titled "How Expeditions Drive Clinical Research," at the American Society for Clinical Investigation/Association of American Physicians joint meeting in Chicago, during which he talked about this experiment and its origins. As a result, he met Dr. Stephen Samuel, an Indian physician and scientist from Trinity College Dublin who was interested in collaborating in India, where an estimated 1 million people are bitten by snakes every year, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths. Lewin flew to India to help Samuel set up treatment protocols at a rural hospital in Krishnagiri.
In late June, Samuel, Dr. CS Soundara Raj and colleagues at TCR Multispecialty Hospital in Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu, India treated a snakebite victim using this method. The patient was suffering from persistent facial paralysis from a krait bite, despite having undergone a full course of antivenom treatment. Upon treatment with the antiparalytic nasal spray, the facial paralysis was reversed within 30 minutes. Two weeks after being treated, the patient reported having returned to her daily activities.
Lewin and his colleagues in the United States are now conducting additional studies on mice to develop new methods and drug combinations, as there are many combinations of anticholinesterases and anticholinergic agents that could be tried to make delivery of the drugs more predictable through the mucous membranes in the nose or eyes. He is also working to set up future clinical studies with Samuel, Soundara Raj and their colleagues in India. While there is much work in front of them, they have already taken important steps toward addressing a major global need. The entire team has embraced the TCR Multispeciality Hospital motto that "no patient should die from snakebite."
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3) Study dials up western pond turtles
SF Gate.com, Carolyn Jones, 7/31/13
Turtle No. 13 is pretty much like western pond turtles everywhere. The greenish, speckled reptile likes to wallow in the mud, bask on old logs and munch on dragonfly larvae.
But then there's the 8-inch antenna on her back.
She and each of her 23 cohorts in a secluded Mount Diablo pond are affixed with radio transmitters on their shells so scientists can track their every poky, mud-filled move.
The turtles are oblivious to their high-tech accessory, but the information they provide has given biologists a glimpse into one of the most rare, and mysterious, reptiles.
"This is the holy grail for turtles," said David "Doc Quack" Riensche, an East Bay Regional Park District biologist who's been conducting the study for three years.
"How far do they go? Where do they winter? What kind of vegetation do they like? We're trying to find these answers so we can learn what's the best way to save these guys."
Western pond turtles, the state's only native turtle, are a "species of special concern," according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and are declining rapidly throughout the West. Once common in creeks and ponds in the Bay Area, the distinctive reptile is now fighting for survival.
The main culprits, aside from habitat loss, are nonnative bullfrogs, which eat the turtle eggs, and invasive red-eared slider turtles, which carry diseases and outcompete the western pond turtle for food and shelter.
The result is that few sizable colonies of pond turtles exist. When embarking on his study, Riensche scoured Alameda and Contra Costa counties for the elusive turtle and found almost none.
Then he stumbled across a 1-acre, spring-fed cattle pond in the eastern foothills of Mount Diablo outside Clayton.
There, he found more than 75 western pond turtles frolicking in the muck.
"It was like the Fertile Crescent," he said. "I was ecstatic."
During breeding season, Riensche and a crew of volunteers - including, sometimes, his wife and kids - trek to the pond daily to check on their subjects.
They catch a few turtles to weigh, measure and inspect for raccoon attacks, then they circle the pond with a wire antenna that resembles TV rabbit ears.
The antenna is affixed to a radio frequency tuner, which volunteers can adjust to locate individual turtles. It beeps when it receives a signal.
Fortunately, turtles don't go very far. Most are lounging in the mud or snoozing on a log. But when laying eggs, females can wander 100 yards or so from the pond - a migration that's critical to understanding how the turtle successfully breeds.
With the help of the antennas, scientists have learned the preferred nesting sites are sunny areas with grass about 1 1/2 feet high covering about 85 percent of the ground. There, the female turtle digs a small hole, deposits her eggs, buries them and lets them incubate in the warmth for two months or so.
Scientists also learned that turtles hibernate underwater for several months in the winter, clustered in the shallow end of the pond.
The information Riensche and his crew gather is sent to state Fish and Wildlife scientists, who use it to create a conservation plan.
Turtle tracking is not for the impatient. Volunteers spend many long hours by the pond with the antenna, waiting for one of nature's more relaxed creatures to do something interesting.
Maggie Clark, a bookkeeper from Lafayette, said she doesn't mind. In fact, it's sort of soothing, she said.
"Any little part I can do," she said. "This is a huge metropolitan area, and I think it's important we try to save as much as we can."
Richard Kaufmann of Oakland, a retired Lake Merritt naturalist, said he considers turtle tracking "payback."
"If you look at all the resources people have taken from the planet - wildlife has had to adapt. Some have, and some are having a harder time," he said. "I see this as a little return for what we've taken."
Turtle study
To volunteer on the western pond turtle study, e-mail David Riensche at docquack@ebparks or call (510) 544-2319. For more information, go to www.ebparks.org/getinvolved/volunteer/quack#how.
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4) Crocodiles may need their fruity five-a-day
New Scientist.com 7/30/13 by Colin Barras

Even crocodiles need their five a day, it seems. At least half of all species of alligator and crocodile supplement their meaty diet with the flesh of fruit.
Reports that crocodiles have a taste for fruit go back decades, says Thomas Rainwater at the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Charleston, South Carolina. "But since these animals were long considered carnivores, no one paid much attention."
In a routine analysis of American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) living in the Everglades National Park in Florida, Rainwater and his colleagues found fruit including pond apples in the alligators' stomachs. They then turned up reports that at least 13 of the 23 living crocodilian species are fruit eaters.
Whether or not crocodilians actively go after fruit is debatable – especially as the predators are secretive and tend to do most of their foraging at night. A crocodile might simply eat an animal that has itself recently dined on fruit, for example.
But there is some evidence that fruit is consumed deliberately, too. Last year a researcher working in south-east Asia reported seeing a wild Siamese crocodile tucking into a watermelon. Perhaps, like grinding stones in a bird's crop, the heavy seeds of some fruits may help the animals digest their meatier meals.
Crocodilians roam and swim over large areas, so could they be important seed dispersal agents? "As far as we can tell, there are no plants that rely exclusively on crocodilians as dispersal agents," says Rainwater. Indeed, saurochory – the act of seed dispersal by reptiles – has largely been ignored by researchers, he says. "But given the number of seeds we have found in some stomachs, we suspect they may be important for some wetland species."
Carlos Herrera at the Doñana Biological Station in Seville, Spain, who has studied fruit-eating in carnivorous mammals, says the results make sense. "Whenever sufficient attention is paid, nearly all vertebrates are found to ingest seeds of fleshy-fruited plants at one time or another, either deliberately or accidentally," he says.
Journal reference: Journal of Zoology, doi.org/m9x
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5) 300 pet turtles take refuge in Atocha railway station, Madrid
By Anne Sewell, Digital Journal, 7/29/13 in Travel

Madrid - Anyone traveling through Madrid's main Atocha railway station in the last twenty years will remember the beautiful, tropical garden in the station's main concourse. What they might not know is that around 300 turtles have happily taken refuge there.

Basically the tropical garden has now become a welcoming refuge to homeless turtles.

There are many reasons for them being there. Some were brought there because children lost interest in them. Others because for some reason or another they could no longer keep them as pets.

Another major reason is that people might not have been prepared, or able, to pay the 40% ticket price to take the turtle on a train and found a quick solution to the problem.

Whatever the reason for them being there, the station's indoor wetlands have been populated with approximately 300 turtles, giving a little glimpse of nature to passengers passing through the station.

The state railway company, Renfe, has employed Aurora Peña to look after the turtles.

She told El País: “We give them animal feed, to make sure they are properly nourished.”

Indicating the turtles, grouped on rocks and other platforms in the water, surrounded by fine white sand, she said: “This is the area we have set aside for them to lay their eggs.”

Explaining that normally turtles living in a tropical sea would head to a remote and protected beach to lay their eggs, and then incubate them, she said that the little expanse of sand in the tropical garden is the closest they will get to a beach in the Spanish capital.

At the last count of the turtles in 2012, when there were 275 animals.

“We take them out one by one, we count them and we tidy them up a bit,” says Peña.

According to Peña, the population has stayed relatively stable over the years. Those that have died have been replaced by people's former pets.

Not a bad place for a turtle to end up these days, and as we can see from the video above, definitely a distraction from the boredom of waiting for your train.

The gardens alone are worth the visit. With over 7,000 plants in neatly manicured garden beds, with some reaching the station's domed ceiling, its like another world in the center of the busy city.

There are reportedly around 260 different tropical species among the plants, and they even include towering palm trees.

Normally a railway station is somewhere you just pass through when on vacation, but Atocha railway station has actually received reviews on Tripadvisor, mainly for its tropical garden and inhabitants.

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6) We've been asking the wrong questions about conservation
Stop worrying about how species will respond to climate change – focus on how our adaptations are going to affect them

James Watson theguardian.com, 7/29/13 Dr James Watson directs the Global Climate Change program for the Wildlife Conservation Society and is the chair of the International Union for Nature Conservation (IUCN) climate change specialist group. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Queensland and has recently become president-elect of the Society for Conservation Biology.

In looking at how best to protect wildlife from the growing climate change crisis, conservation scientists usually ignore the single most significant impact on fauna and flora: the changes warming drives in the behaviour of its dominant species – humans – and resultant effects on the living world and natural processes. Those effects are already driving many of the climate-related ecological shifts we are witnessing across the globe.
For example, the opening up of the Arctic for oil and gas, mining and transport routes as sea-ice retreats directly impacts polar biodiversity. Expansion of agricultural activities due to changing rainfall in the mountains of Africa's Albertine Rift and the valleys of the Congo Basin now threatens gorilla habitat there.
Elsewhere, the construction of ineffective seawalls in Papua New Guinea to slow down the impact of sea-level rise has led to the wholesale destruction of some of the most biodiverse and protein-productive coral reefs in the world. Increasing temperatures across the high-altitude Tibetan plateau likewise contribute to a shift in the formerly stable balance between indigenous herders and wildlife, both of which graze the delicate grasslands.
The list is endless but is it not all negative. For example, in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala, efforts by local communities to control a growing number of wildfire incidents, associated with a drying climate, are having a positive impact on vulnerable populations of threatened species like jaguar.
Nevertheless, it would appear that in their work on climate change, conservation scientists have forgotten a basic tenet of our field: that conservation is fundamentally about people.
A survey of the literature shows that in 2013, more than 6,500 climate-change-related papers have been published in peer-reviewed conservation journals. The vast majority of these examine how and where future temperature and rainfall changes will make species more vulnerable.
While direct threats to species are often less challenging to identify, quantify and predict, indirect threats can often be far more significant and lasting. Nowhere is this more true than with climate change. For example, while hard to perceive on the ground, the risk that a national park will likely become the best place to grow food can be the most relevant threat to species found there.
The misdirection of conservation science when it comes to climate change is not due to a lack of data or a lack of time to undertake relevant research. It is more basic than that. We've been asking the wrong questions.
Understanding the ecology of species and their likely responses to climate change is helpful, but understanding how humans are going to be affected by climate and what this impact will be on those species is far more important.
As a conservationist who has spent his career looking at climate change impacts, I have largely stopped worrying about working out how species are going to respond and begun focusing on how human adaptations will affect those species. It is clear to me that this is what our immediate priority should be.
Failure to predict likely human adaptations to climate change commits us to a future of reactive, emergency responses likely to be wholly inadequate to the demands of the coming century. With greater attention to this subject, we can target conservation resources preemptively to meet more effectively and efficiently what many of us believe to be the greatest global challenge of our time.
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7) Pesticides Contaminate Frogs from Californian National Parks
July 26, 2013- Science Daily— Pesticides commonly used in California's Central Valley, one of the world's most productive agricultural regions, have been found in remote frog species miles from farmland. Writing in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, researchers demonstrate the contamination of Pacific Tree Fogs in remote mountain areas, including national parks; supporting past research on the potential transport of pesticides by the elements.
California's Central Valley is one of the most intensely farmed regions in North America, producing 8% of U.S agricultural output by value. While the use of pesticides such as triazines, endosulfan and organophosphates is common across the U.S., California uses more pesticides than any other state.
"Our results show that current-use pesticides, particularly fungicides, are accumulating in the bodies of Pacific chorus frogs in the Sierra Nevada," said Kelly Smalling a research hydrologist from the U.S. Geological Survey. "This is the first time we've detected many of these compounds, including fungicides, in these remote locations."
The Pacific chorus frog Pseudacris Regilla can be found in abundance across the state's Sierra Nevada mountain range. As with other amphibians, agrochemicals potentially pose a threat to chorus frogs, as exposure to pesticides can decrease their immune system, thereby increasing the risk of disease.
The team collected frogs, as well as water and sediment samples, from seven ponds ranging from Lassen Volcanic National Park at the northern most point of Central Valley, to the Giant Sequoia National Monument in the valley's southern extent. All sites were downwind of agricultural areas.
"The samples were tested for 98 types of pesticides, traces of which were found in frog tissues from all sites," said Smalling. "We found that even frogs living in the most remote mountain locations were contaminated by agricultural pesticides, transported long distances in dust and by rain."
Two fungicides, commonly used in agriculture, pyraclostrobin and tebuconazole, and one herbicide, simazine, were the most frequently detected compounds, and this is the first time these compounds have ever been reported in wild frog tissue. Another commonly detected pesticide was DDE (Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene) a breakdown product of DDT which was banned in the United States in 1972. The continued presence of a DDT byproduct reveals how long this banned chemical can impact biodiversity.
A comparison of the frog tissue with water and sediment collected from the same sites shows that the frogs were the more reliable indicator of chemical exposure. This is partly due to the physical-chemical properties of the l compounds and biological influences such as such as organism specific metabolism and life history. Documenting the occurrence of these compounds is an important first step in figuring out the health consequence associated with the exposures.
"Very few studies have considered the environmental occurrence of pesticides, particularly fungicides which can be transported beyond farmland," concluded Smalling. "Our evidence raises new challenges for resource managers; demonstrating the need to keep track of continual changes in pesticides use and to determine potential routes of exposure in the wild."
Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley, via AlphaGalileo.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.
Journal Reference:
1. Kelly L. Smalling, Gary M. Fellers, Patrick M. Kleeman, Kathryn M. Kuivila. Accumulation of pesticides in pacific chorus frogs (Pseudacris regilla) from California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, USA. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 2013; 32 (9): 2026 DOI: 10.1002/etc.2308
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8) Why Can't the Snakes Cross the Road, Secret Lives of Baby Snakes and Other Questions
Aug. 2, 2013 — Science Daily--Why can't the pine snakes cross the road? Hint: New Jersey traffic might have something to do with it.
Drexel students will bring to light these and other findings about the plight, perils and peculiarities of the Northern Pine Snake in several presentations and posters at the Ecological Society of America annual meeting next week (ESA 2013), based on their research with Dr. Walt Bien's Laboratory of Pinelands Research in the New Jersey Pinelands.
Northern pine snakes are charismatic ambassadors for the Pinelands National Reserve, an ecologically important region -designated as a U.S. Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and as the first National Reserve in the United States. The pine snakes are large, nonvenomous, docile and beautiful (at least to the non-phobic).
The population in New Jersey is threatened, and the next-nearest population of northern pine snakes is in North Carolina. Protecting these snakes from the human-generated perils in the most densely populated U.S. state can go a long way toward protecting the entire ecosystem they are a part of.
Here is a closer look at some of the Drexel team's research:
Snake surgery is a special skill for conservation
Dane Ward has a rare talent for a graduate student in conservation biology: He is an adept snake surgeon. Many animals are studied using radio telemetry by attaching a radio transmitter to the outside of the body. Radio telemetry is useful for tracking pine snakes because their movements are hard to see through simple observation. But placing a transmitter on the surface of a pine snake's skin would interfere with the animal's slithering movements and feeding via constriction. So Ward has learned to surgically implant the transmitters in snakes instead, through a tiny one-inch incision.
The team has radio-tracked more than two dozen adult pine snakes in recent field seasons. The data have helped them learn more about the snakes' spatial range and behavior and develop population models they hope will be useful for conserving the locally threatened population of pine snakes.
Ever feel lethargic on a hot day? It's worse for snakes.
Radio tracking pine snakes gave Ward and Drexel undergraduate Catherine (Katie) D'Amelio an opportunity to take an unusual approach to studying climate change. Because snakes are cold-blooded, and New Jersey is the northern limit of the pine snake's range, they reasoned that shifts in weather and climate could have an impact on their behavior.
D'Amelio looked at the data from snakes that had been tracked over three seasons, and compared their activity levels with the air and soil-surface temperatures the snakes encountered. At the highest temperatures, snakes' activity levels dropped off.
Comparing the snakes' most active temperature range with predictions of shifts due to climate change, the team pointed out that the timing of seasonal activities may shift in the future -- which could impact their interactions with other species. And they note that freezing to death could be a danger if early-spring warming periods, followed by cold snaps, become common -- something they observed in the spring of 2012.
D'Amelio won a top award at the Mid-Atlantic regional ESA meeting earlier this year for the poster on this work -- earning her a trip to present it at ESA 2013 in Minneapolis.
Baby snake mazes and counting tiny tongue flicks
Nesting and early life for a newborn, or neonate, pine snake, are life phases that scientists know the least about. But graduate student Kevin P.W. Smith is deeply involved with changing that. He'll give an oral presentation Tuesday at ESA about some of the first work ever done to study the behavior of neonate pine snakes.
Because neonate pine snakes are tiny and hard to see, once again, snake surgery is required (and the surgical photo above is of Ward implanting a neonate with a radio transmitter).
To find neonates in the first place, the team tracks adult female snakes to their nesting sites and marks the spot with GPS. In the Pinelands, female pine snakes dig out their own burrows over the course of several days, using a specialized scale on their noses to scoop out sand -- so it's not too hard for a careful observer to catch some females in the act of digging prior to laying eggs. Two months later, the newborn snakes emerge from the marked burrows into small fenced-in areas rigged by the researchers to capture them.
The team implanted eight neonate pine snakes with transmitters last season and they hope to have 10 implanted in 2013. (The snakes begin to emerge in September.)
Smith has been able to make important observations about the neonate snakes' natural behavior. For example, he learned that young pine snakes begin feeding on adult mammals -- small ones, such as mice -- within the first two months of life and they shed their skin multiple times within their first season.
He has also been working with neonate pine snakes in a variety of behavioral experiments, including simple maze tests to track migration and dispersal responses to different snakes' scents. In another experiment, he counts the neonates' tongue flicks to gauge their interest in the scents of various potential prey items.
Why can't snakes cross the road?
No joke: Pine snakes in New Jersey tend to get flattened on roads, and scientists speculate that summer shore traffic could be a big contributor to snake mortality. (Some motorists tend to think of the Pinelands not as a rare and special natural environment for plants and wildlife, but as the woods on the way to the Jersey shore.) Just how often and why, and what that means for their populations' survival, is the subject of intense research.
Two Drexel undergraduates who joined Bien's lab in their freshman year last year, Jacquelyn Garcia and Rafaella Marano, are working with Ward and other members of the team to address this question, and will present a poster about their road-crossing studies at ESA.
They found that crossing a two-lane highway takes pine snakes about two minutes. When they cross-referenced that time against New Jersey traffic data for the roads crossing their study area, they found that snakes were virtually guaranteed to encounter several cars during any road crossing -- anywhere from 3-4 cars crossing the least-used road, to more than 30 cars per two-minutes on New Jersey's Route 72 during the busy summer season.
They also studied the effects of the type of road surface on snakes' movement and found that snakes move faster on sand than on asphalt and concrete.
Snake deaths on roads aren't just a gruesome accident -- they can be a real problem for the population dispersal and survival. Roads dividing the snakes' habitat can effectively fragment the population by preventing interbreeding with snakes on the other side.
(And sometimes snake deaths aren't an accident: Some motorists target wildlife such as snakes and turtles to run them over on purpose.)
Some of the team's ongoing work uses biological samples from the roadkill snakes they find, to determine if roads are causing noticeable genetic differences in the population.
They're continuing to investigate whether culverts under the roads can provide safe crossings and will also test whether changing the surface texture of the road can help snakes cross more rapidly.
How bombs save snakes (and pines and flowers and grasses)
All of this snake research and much more is possible because Bien, a professor in Drexel's Department of Biodiversity Earth and Environmental Science, and his students, have been welcomed to work in environmental protection on the U.S. Air Force's Warren Grove Gunnery Range. The government is required under federal law to protect this property -- and the Drexel researchers have helped them do just that, via a partnership with the Air Force and New Jersey Air National Guard lasting more than a decade.
Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by Drexel University.
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Re: Herp- Digest Newsletter

Postby Philsuma » Fri Aug 16, 2013 11:54 am

HerpDigest.org: The Only Free Weekly Electronic Newsletter That Reports on the Latest News on Herpetological Conservation, Husbandry and Science
Volume # 13 Issue # 34 8/15/13
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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HerpDigest is a non-profit organization that is totally dependent on your generosity for its continued existence. Please feel free to make a donation.

But First Think: How much is HerpDigest worth to you? As a reader? As someone who uses HerpDigest to get an announcement out of a meeting, call for abstracts, interns, volunteers.

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Each Issue a New Book(s) Will go on Sale for A Limited Time Period. Usually One to Two Weeks. Prices will vary from Full price to 3/4 off list price. From 8/10/13 to 8/24/13 get:

ONLY TWO LEFT-
“Snakes of the United States and Canada” by Carl and Evelyn Ernst. The definitive work on the snakes of US & Canada. 680 pages, Hardcover. List $70.00 now $55.00 plus $12 for S&H in the US (It’s over 5 lbs) . No other book provides as thorough or as reliable coverage. People constantly ask me for books on specific species. Well all those books are in here. The most complete coverage of snakes in the US & Canada ever.

This monumental reference begins with an introduction to snake biology and evolution, which is followed by an identification guide and key to the North American species. The heart of the book is the species accounts which, accompanied by color photographs, provide detailed information on identifying features, geographic variation, known fossils, current distribution, habitat type, behavior, reproduction, growth, diet, and predators. Completing the book is a glossary of terms and a comprehensive reference section.

(See bottom of Newsletter on how to order, If overseas-and that ironically includes Canada- email us as asalzberg@herpdigest.org for a shipping quote.)
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Amazon Turtles, by Richard C. Vogt is now available in English and Spanish on Amazon. Copies in Portuguese are still available only directly from Mr. Vogt. Email him at vogt@inpa.gov.br for information.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:

1) Temporal changes in an alligator snapping turtle
(Macrochelys temminckii) population

2) Antiques dealer pleads guilty in New York City to wildlife smuggling conspiracy- Rhino horn and ivory was smuggled to China
3) Green sea turtles eat more plastic now than ever: study
4) Revealed At Local Seminar: Turtles Talk To Each Other
5) Reward Offered for Illegal Killing of Duck and Turtle with Arrow
6) Germans hunt turtle after attack on boy- How such a turtle got into a Bavarian lake remains a mystery- Supposedly an Alligator Snapping Turtle
7) Do Conservation Scientists Work Too Hard?
8) Giant Tortoises and Baobab Trees: Imperfect Apart
9) The EcoPerception Gap
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See below for more books on sale,
Frogs of the US & Canada 2 volume Hardcover set,
Biology of Amphibians,
Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico: Two Volume Hardcover set,
Turtles of U.S. & Canada and
“Turtles & Tortoises for Dummies”
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1) Temporal changes in an alligator snapping turtle
(Macrochelys temminckii) population
Wildlife Research 40:77-81
Mitchell B. EastA,C,D, J. Daren Riedle B and Day B. LigonA
ADepartment of Biology, Missouri State University, 901 S. National Avenue, Springfield, MO 65897, USA.
BDepartment of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Lincoln University, Jefferson City, MO 65010, USA.
CPresent address: Natural Heritage New Mexico, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA.
DCorresponding author. Email: mitch.east86@gmail.com

Abstract
Context. Monitoring populations of long-lived species requires continuous long-term efforts. This is especially applicable for species that have experienced declines range-wide.
Aims. Our study assessed the current status of a population of wild Macrochelys temminckii and compared the present results to those from a survey conducted nearly a decade ago.
Methods. Trapping in 2010–2011 was conducted on two creeks within the refuge, during the months of May–July.
Capture data were compared with data collected by similar methods in 1997–2001.
Key results. The population structure of M. temminckii was dominated by juveniles, with few large adults or small juveniles detected and a missing size class was evident. Retrospective analysis of 1997–2001 data revealed that the population
was likely to be in decline even then, despite high capture rates.
Conclusions. The M. temminckii population showed significant declines that indicated that the population had experienced stressors of unknown origin. The status of M. temminckii at the refuge is concerning, given the protection
afforded this remnant population.
Implications. Short-term data from 1997–2001 indicated a healthy M. temminckii population, whereas longer-term data showed that the population has declined, resulting in significant demographic changes. Continued monitoring will be
necessary to develop management recommendations and track the impact of implemented management practices. Longer term monitoring of long-lived vertebrates is required to identify population trends.

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2) Antiques dealer pleads guilty in New York City to wildlife smuggling conspiracy- Rhino horn and ivory was smuggled to China
August 2013. Wildlife Extra.com --- Qiang Wang, a/k/a Jeffrey Wang, a New York antiques dealer, has pleaded guilty in a New York court to conspiracy to smuggle Asian artifacts made from rhinoceros horns and ivory and to violating wildlife trafficking laws.

Wang was arrested in February 2013 as part of "Operation Crash," a US nation-wide crackdown in the illegal trafficking in rhinoceros horns, for his role in smuggling libation cups carved from rhinoceros horns from New York to Hong Kong and China.

"Wang and others conspired in an illegal trade that is threatening the future of these species," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Dreher. "This prosecution and continuing investigation should send a clear message to buyers and sellers that we will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who are involved in this devastating trade."
Between approximately January 2011 and February 2013, Wang conspired with at least two others to smuggle objects containing rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory out of the United States knowing that it was illegal to export such items without required permits. Wang made and used false U.S. Customs Declarations for the packages containing rhinoceros horn and ivory objects in order to conceal the true contents of the packages, and did not declare them to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or U.S. Customs and Border Protection as required under U.S. law and international trade agreements.
Wang, 34, of Flushing, N.Y., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Under the terms of the plea agreement, items recovered from Wang's apartment, including an ivory statute found hidden behind his bed, will be forfeited. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Forrest on Oct. 25, 2013.
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3) Green sea turtles eat more plastic now than ever: study
Friday Aug 9, 2013, New Zealand Herald----Endangered green turtles are ingesting more man-made debris, including potentially lethal plastic products, than ever before, a new Australian study has shown.

The majestic turtles are significantly more likely to swallow plastic than they were in the 1980s, the study, published in the journal Conservation Biology, showed.
The research reviewed scientific literature on the ingestion of man-made rubbish in the ocean by sea turtles published since 1985.
It showed that six of the world's seven species of sea turtles have been found to ingest debris, and all six are listed as globally vulnerable or endangered.
"We found that for green sea turtles, the likelihood that a sea turtle has ingested debris has nearly doubled in the last 25 years," Qamar Schuyler from the University of Queensland, who led the study, told AFP on Friday.
"Specifically for green turtles, it does appear that they are eating a lot more debris than they used to."
The study found that the likelihood of a green turtle, which can grow to 1.5 metres (five feet) and live for 80 years, ingesting debris jumped from about 30 percent in 1985 to nearly 50 percent in 2012.
The research said it was clear that since the first data was recorded more than 100 years ago, the amount of refuse leatherback turtles had ingested had also increased.
However, between 1985 and 2012 their intake had been stable.
Plastic products eaten by turtles and other marine life can be lethal, killing the animals by either blocking their stomachs and starving them or through puncturing their intestinal system.
Schuyler said ingested plastics could also be releasing toxins into the animals, either via chemicals in the plastics themselves or which the products have absorbed as they have floated around the ocean.
"The animal may not die of that right away but it may impact things like their reproductive cycle and that has longer-term consequences," she said.
Schuyler, a doctoral candidate, said the data showed that turtles washing up with lots of plastic in them were not necessarily found in the most polluted or populated places.
"So it means that they are ingesting that debris usually somewhere farther away from where they end up," she said, adding that this suggested that a global response was needed to counter the problem.
"What we really need to look at is a large scale movement to stop debris entering the oceans."
The research, analysing 37 studies published from 1985 to 2012 which reported on data collected from before 1900 through to 2011, found that turtles in nearly all regions ingested debris, most commonly plastic.
"Our results show clearly that debris ingestion by sea turtles is a global phenomenon of increasing magnitude," the study said.
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4) Revealed At Local Seminar: Turtles Talk To Each Other
by Brett Blume, August 9, 2013 12:04 PM
CLAYTON, Mo. (KMOX) – A gathering of the “Turtle Survival Alliance” in our area this week has revealed some previously unknown facts about turtles.
Not only are they not deaf, as long believed, but they vocalize to each other — even before they break out of their shells.
“We found that, like alligators, the hatchlings are talking in the egg to synchronize hatching,” explains researcher Dr. Richard Vogt with the National Institute for Amazon Research. “Then they synchronize digging out of the nest together.”
Vogt said he noticed turtles moving their mouths underwater as far back as 1975, but fundraising issues long prevented him from following up on his findings.
Finally he got his hands on some hydrophones, microphones that can record sound underwater, and was amazed by what he heard.
“We took the hydrophone one day and put it down in the aquarium that had turtles in it,” Vogt says. “And yes, they were vocalizing!”
He explains this is more than just an interesting tidbit to those who study the animals, it goes a long way toward explaining turtle behavior.
“Why do two-hundred turtles come out of the water instantaneously? Now we know…they’re talking to each other,” Vogt says.
Another revelation made during the Clayton seminar is that turtles are much better parents than previously thought and instead of abandoning their newborns to fend for themselves, will use vocalizations to guide young turtles to places where they can find food.
“This is really important for conservation efforts,” Vogt points out. “Because a lot of people who work in conservation like to handle aminals and then release them where they think the turtle should be. They think they know better than nature.”
He adds the new information on turtle vocalization should explode some previously-held notions that turtles are “pre-programmed” to find their way back home no matter where they’re dropped off, but instead are guided by the voices of other turtles.
The 11th annual “Symposium on the Conservation and Biology of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles” runs through Saturday at the Sheraton in Clayton.
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5) Reward Offered for Illegal Killing of Duck and Turtle with Arrow

Press Release, Aug. 14, 2013 – The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for illegally shooting a duck and a turtle with a bow and arrow on the Susquehanna River in northern York County, Pa.

The Case: According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, on July 29, a mallard duck and snapping turtle were unlawfully killed by a bow and arrow. Conservation officers are looking for information about people illegally shooting animals along the Susquehanna River from Goldsboro to York Haven. Officers are specifically seeking information about a bow fishing group that is believed to launch from the Goldsboro area and typically fishes along Brunner Island from 1 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Elise Traub, director of wildlife protection for The HSUS said: “This callous disregard for wildlife protection laws is unacceptable and we urge anyone with information to come forward. We are so thankful for the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s tireless work to investigate this crime and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

The Investigators: The PGC is investigating. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call 610-926-3136 or the TIP Hotline number at 1-888-PGC-8001. Those who provide information leading to the arrest of the shooter or shooters may be eligible for an additional monetary reward provided by the PGC.

Poaching:

* The season for hunting mallard ducks is currently closed and killing snapping turtles with a bow and arrow is illegal year round.

* Wildlife officials estimate that nationwide, tens of millions of animals are killed illegally each year.
* It is estimated that only 1 percent to 5 percent of poached animals come to the attention of law enforcement.
* Poachers injure or kill wildlife anytime, anywhere and sometimes do so in particularly cruel ways. Wildlife officials report that poachers often commit other crimes as well.

Resources: The HSUS and HSWLT work with state and federal wildlife agencies to offer rewards of $5,000 for information leading to arrest and conviction of suspected poachers. The HSUS recently doubled its standard poaching reward from $2,500 to $5,000 thanks to a generous donation from HSUS board member Cathy Kangas and her husband Ed Kangas of New Canaan, Conn.

Visit humanesociety.org/poaching<http://www.humanesociety.org/poaching> for more information.

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson; 301-721-6463, ksanderson@humanesociety.org<mailto:ksanderson@humanesociety.org>
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6) Germans hunt turtle after attack on boy- How such a turtle got into a Bavarian lake remains a mystery- Supposedly an Alligator Snapping Turtle

BBC Euroope, 8/12/13- Residents of a German town have joined a determined search for a turtle blamed for an attack on a young swimmer.
A lake was drained at the weekend in the hunt for what is suspected to be an alligator snapping turtle.
Firefighters and local helpers at the Oggenrieder Weiher, in Bavaria, are wading through mud hoping to find the reptile, which is not a native species.
The turtle, nicknamed Lotti, is likely to be some 40cm (16 inches) long and weigh at least 14kg (30 pounds).
An eight-year-old German boy on holiday was bitten while bathing in the lake a week ago. His Achilles tendon was severed in two places, and zoologists in Munich later concluded that an alligator turtle had probably attacked him.
Such turtles are native to North America, so German authorities believe the reptile must have been released into the lake by its owner. Since 1999 there has been a ban on keeping the turtles in Germany, the daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports on its website.
The local mayor, Andreas Lieb, has offered a 1,000-euro (£859; $1,330) reward for whoever finds Lotti, while warning against any attempt to trap the turtle without expert help.
Lotti may be lying low in the thick mud, so it could be a long and perhaps fruitless search. Volunteers are reported to be beating the mud with the brooms more often used to put out small woodland fires.
About 500 fish were transferred to a nearby pond when the lake - which is about the size of a football pitch - was drained. But Mr Lieb has described the whole incident as a "disaster", coming at the height of the holiday season.
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7) Do Conservation Scientists Work Too Hard?
Aug. 13, 2013 — An international study of the work habits of conservation biologists suggests that they do work very hard -- producing a substantial amount of work late at night and over weekends. The results have been published in an editorial article for the scientific journal Biological Conservation.
The research, by Dr Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz of The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC), Dr Richard Primack of Boston University and Dr Lian Pin Koh of Princeton University, put to the test the commonly held belief that scientists are like laboratory rats, working long hours at night and on weekends, with little time left for family and other personal matters. They were also curious about the differences in working habits of scientists in different countries. To find out, they analysed data for 10,000 manuscript submissions and almost 15,000 reviews sent to Biological Conservation.
Dr Campos-Arceiz, an Associate Professor at UNMC's School of Geography, said: "The motivation for the study had clear personal roots. I went to Bali to attend a friend's wedding and found myself spending most of the short holiday reviewing manuscripts in front of the beach, instead of swimming or reading a novel. I realised that finding time to review manuscripts at work is really difficult and I personally do most of my manuscript reviews in my own time, mostly weekends and during holidays."
Many working hours out of hours
The submission of manuscripts for publication in a scientific journal and their subsequent peer-review by fellow scientists are quintessential components of the scientific process. This process is now done online through a portal that records the exact time when the authors or reviewers are in front of the computer submitting their files. Dr Campos-Arceiz and his collaborators used this information -- the day and time of submission -- to understand the working habits of scientists contributing to Biological Conservation.
Dr Campos-Arciez said: "Reviewing someone else's manuscript is a relatively altruistic act, since it is generally done anonymously and it aims to improve someone else's work, or to prevent poor science being published. If reviews are done during personal time, the altruism is even greater. We were also concerned with the potential effects on the quality of the scientific work -- if authors or reviewers are working late at night or over weekends, it might indicate time pressures that can potentially lead to a lower quality of the scientific work."
The results showed that scientists do a substantial amount of their work late at night (16 per cent of the manuscripts) and on weekends (11 per cent of the manuscripts and 12 per cent of the reviews); and that this work outside of normal hours has been increasing at about 5-6 per cent per year. Working habits also vary greatly across the globe. Japanese, Chinese, and Indian researchers seemed to work hardest, submitting nearly 40 per cent of their manuscripts outside regular office hours whereas scientists from Belgium, Norway, Finland, and South Africa submitted 16-17 per cent of them outside regular office hours. The countries that stood out in the study for being hard-working were Japanese and Mexican scientists working late at night and Chinese and Indian scientists working much more on weekends. In contrast, Belgian and Norwegian scientists did not work much on weekends, and Finnish scientists did not work at night. American and British scientists had average work habits, working moderate amounts on weekends and evenings.
Richard Primack said he was surprised by the study, "Until we saw the data, I did not appreciate how hard-working Chinese, Indian, and Japanese scientists were. Also, I thought that Americans were about the hardest working scientists in the world, but they are about average. In my own case, I am pretty much working all of the time, other than when I am occupied with family and friends or exercising."
The academic's working week needs reviewing
Overall this study shows that conservation biologists and potentially other scientists do a considerable amount of their scientific work outside regular working hours. This trend is increasing and that there are marked geographical patterns in scientists' behavior. The authors consider that the continuous increase in workloads experienced in academic institutions -- particularly with ever-increasing teaching and administration duties -- has a potential negative impact on the quality of the scientific work and, at the same time, on the scientists' life-work balance, which often results in neglecting family, friends, physical exercise, or just resting time.
Dr Campos-Arceiz said: "We call for academic institutions to remember that good science requires time to read and think and over-stressed scientists are likely to be less productive overall. We also recommend that peer-review activities are included as part of the academic job description and considered in staff performance evaluations. At the end of the day, working on this paper has been an opportunity to reflect about our own behavior and priorities. Next time I go to Bali, I will spend more time swimming and talking with my wife and less working on manuscripts."
Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by University of Nottingham, via AlphaGalileo.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.
Journal Reference:
1. Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, Lian Pin Koh, Richard B. Primack. Are conservation biologists working too hard? Biological Conservation, 2013; 166: 186 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2013.06.029
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8) Giant Tortoises and Baobab Trees: Imperfect Apart
By John R. Platt | August 13, 2013
Remove a species from an ecosystem and other species tend to suffer. Take the giant Madagascar tortoise, for example. The two species of giant tortoises on Madagascar went extinct centuries ago, but their loss is still being felt today. According to new research, the extinction of these tortoises robbed one of the island’s iconic baobab tree species of its most important seed dispersers, a situation from which the trees still have not recovered.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, all six of Madagascar’s native baobab tree species relied on large animal species to eat their fruit and disperse their seeds. Unfortunately, most if not all of those large animals have gone extinct, leaving the trees with fewer opportunities for seeds to be carried in the animals’ guts to new germination sites, a problem compounded by modern logging, agriculture and development, which have reduced and strictly limited baobab habitat. Although some baobab species remain relatively common today all six Madagascar species face low reproduction rates and have few opportunities for seed dispersal. In the case of the species known as the fony baobab (Adansonia rubrostipa), which grows in the dry forests of western Madagascar, a 2007 study (pdf) found that the growth of new seedlings required seeds reaching areas that weren’t already covered by older baobab trees or heavy shrubbery, a phenomenon that the researchers characterized as “relatively rare.”
It has long been theorized that giant tortoises (Aldabrachelys grandidieri and A. abrupta) served that dispersal role for fony baobabs until humans ate the animals into extinction roughly 2,000 years ago. A team of researchers from the University of Antananarivo in Madagascar and CIRAD, an agricultural research center in France, wanted to test that theory. Obviously there were no native Madagascar giant tortoises to participate in the experiments, but an analogous species was readily available. The Aldabra giant tortoises (A. gigantea) living on the islands of the nearby Republic of Seychelles, located just north of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, are close relatives to the extinct Madagascar species and fill a similar ecological role.
The researchers collected baobab fruits that had recently fallen from A. rubrostipa trees and fed them to five Aldabra giant tortoises residing at Tsimbazaza Botanical and Zoological Park, also in Madagascar’s capital city, Antananarivo. The tortoises appeared to enjoy the fruits, an indication that the Madagascar species probably would have had a taste for them as well. The next step was to wait for the tortoises to defecate the seeds, a process which took between 15 and 23 days. Tortoises in the wild can travel a fair amount of distance over two to three weeks, so this defecation time frame supported the theory that the Madagascar tortoises could have served as effective seed dispersers. Previous research into Galápagos giant tortoises has shown that they disperse seeds in their feces more than four kilometers from parent plants. This is especially important for baobab trees, since seeds that fall and stay too close to their parents often don’t have enough room or sunlight to germinate and thrive.
Finally, the researchers tested the seeds that had passed through the tortoises’ guts to see if they would germinate and compared the germination rate with seeds that had simply been washed of their surrounding fruit pulp. The tortoises’ stomach acid had somewhat scarred the defecated seeds but they still germinated, although at a slightly slower rate than seeds that had not been swallowed. The researchers theorize that the defecated fony baobab seeds may enter a dormancy phase which parallels that of the continental African baobab species, seeds from which can remain dormant for up to three years and sprout when ecological conditions are most advantageous for growth. The combination of food preference, digestion time and dormancy phase all supported the idea that the extinct Madagascar tortoises would have served as primary and effective dispersers for fony baobab seeds.
The research, published August 5 in the African Journal of Ecology, does more than just prove that baobab trees relied on extinct Madagascar tortoises. It also lays some of the groundwork for the reintroduction of giant tortoises back to the island. One of the paper’s authors, CIRAD conservation biologist Miguel Pedrono, is also part of a team that plans to import 300 juvenile Aldabra giant tortoises to western Madagascar. The animals will live in a pen for five years where their eating habits will be closely monitored. After that it is hoped that they will breed and disperse, filling the ecological niche once filled by their extinct cousins. Pedrono and his co-authors described their plan in the March issue of Biological Conservation, where they called it the first project to restore an island’s ecology by importing a relative of an extinct megafauna species and wrote this translocation could be “a pragmatic and cost-effective tool to contribute to halting the ongoing extinction processes in parts of western and southern Madagascar, and would further understanding of the role of these species in prehuman Madagascan ecosystems.”
Could the effects of a millennia-old human-caused extinction truly be reversed? Only time and tortoises will tell.
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9) The EcoPerception Gap
Conservation Magazine, “This Week’s Good Read” 8/11/13-- originally published in September 7, 2012 issue (Editor yep its a year old, but they just posted the entire article instead of just a blurb, and its relevant to everything we do.)
Why do we worry too much about some environmental risks and not enough about others?
By David Ropeik
Michael, a 55-year-old friend of mine, has cut way back on eating certain species of seafood because the government says those species may carry high levels of mercury. But the levels of mercury in those fish pose almost no risk to 55-year-old males, although they can be risky for fetuses and infants. What’s more, the fish Michael is forgoing are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which protect against heart disease—a very real threat for my friend.
——
Nancy loves the sun and is deeply tanned, even in the winter. She also fears and opposes nuclear power. Yet studies of atomic-bomb survivors have shown that nuclear radiation, while carcinogenic, isn’t nearly as much a cancer threat as radiation from the sun. Of roughly 100,000 bomb survivors, about 600 (fewer than one percent) have died from radiation-induced cancer, and there have been no multigenerational genetic effects. Solar radiation, on the other hand, causes 12,000 melanoma deaths in the U.S. each year.
——
And then there’s my friend Andrea, who eats only organic food and resists taking prescription drugs because she worries they haven’t been tested enough. Yet she has no problem taking all sorts of herbal remedies, many of which have not been tested for safety or efficacy and several of which have been found to do serious harm. Some have even killed people. Kava root can damage the kidneys. Some Ayurvedic medicines contain heavy metals at thousands of times the levels deemed safe. Ephedra is linked to more than 100 deaths.
——
Why are my friends (and I) more afraid of some environmental threats than the evidence warrants, and less afraid of some perils than the evidence warns of? Why don’t our fears match the facts? And more importantly, what does the gap between our fears and the facts, a phenomenon I call “the perception gap,” do to human and environmental health?
A growing body of research into the neuroscience and psychology of fear and risk perception offers some provocative answers. Investigators are discovering that our health and safety rely on a system of risk perception that is instinctive—and mostly subconscious. It seems that no matter how hard we try to reason carefully and objectively, our brains are hardwired to rely on feelings as well as facts to figure out how to keep us alive.
The system has worked well throughout most of human history. But in the face of modern and complex environmental threats, it can make dangerous mistakes. Perhaps it’s time to let go of our Enlightenment-based faith in the power of rational analysis and attempt to better understand how risk perception works. It’s time to learn how to avoid the risks that the perception gap creates.
Your Brain on Fear
Feel first, think second
Imagine you’re walking down a country path in the shadows of late afternoon. There are wetlands on either side. Thin, curving tree roots occasionally run across the path at your feet. You sense that one of them moves—even slithers. You freeze, and your heart races just a bit. You have an instinctive reaction to a potential threat before you are even conscious of it. This is the neural beginning of risk perception, and it is bad news for those who think we can objectively think our way to the right decisions about keeping ourselves safe.
In the 1980s, using rats, neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux conducted a series of pioneering experiments on fear. After ringing a bell, he shocked the rats’ feet, conditioning them to jump with fear at the sound of the bell—even when no shock was applied. By using microelectrodes implanted in rat brains, LeDoux identified where fear begins. Even before the tone stimulus reached those parts of the brain associated with hearing, it sped to a group of cells called the amygdala. In both rats and people, the amygdala is the brain’s 24/7 “Could there be danger?” radar. It quickly screens incoming data and, when it senses danger, sends out an alert, triggering a “fight or flight” response.
After the stimulus (the bell’s ring or the sight of the root that could be a snake) has been perceived by the amygdala—setting off a fear response—it finally makes its way to the cortex, the outer layer of the brain responsible for higher-order factual analysis and purposeful thinking. The cortex thinks things over, then sends its thoughtful two cents’ worth to the amygdala. But all this takes time—about 20 milliseconds in humans. During that split second, the instinctive reaction is already under way. The system is set up to be fast rather than smart. Our brains are hardwired to feel first and think second.
That’s great if your reaction time might mean the differ-ence between life and death. But it’s not the most effective system for coping with risks such as mercury or nuclear power or herbal drugs. Thankfully, after these first moments of the risk response, the cortex and its powers of reason do indeed get to add their analysis. But LeDoux found that even though both instinct and reason have their say in risk assessment, instinct and emotions have the decided edge. As LeDoux puts it in The Emotional Brain, “ . . . the wiring of the brain at this point in our evolutionary history is such that connections from the emotional systems to the cognitive systems are stronger than connections from the cognitive systems to the emotional systems.” So not only do we feel first and think second—in general, we feel more and think less.
Mental Shortcuts
Big decisions based on little information
Answer the following questions with yes or no:
1. Are pesticides a serious threat to public health?
2. Is genetically modified food a serious threat to public health?
3. Is bisphenol A (a chemical ingredient of plastics, also used to line food cans) a serious threat to public health?
Now, the most important question:
4. Did you have all the facts you needed to make a fully informed, analytical, reasoned decision about any of the first three questions?
I have posed these sorts of questions to thousands of people at various speaking engagements and in educational settings. Typically, I get a mix of yeses and nos to the first three questions. The only question that gets a unanimous answer is the fourth question. No one thinks they have all the facts necessary to answer any of the other questions. Nevertheless, most people make such judgments about risks without having all the facts.
This represents the second part of our risk response. Faced with a situation that the amygdala doesn’t have the built-in tools to recognize (like many of the risks we face in our more complex, modern world), the brain draws upon a set of subconscious, mental shortcuts to help us quickly judge whether we are in danger.
The researchers who first identified these hidden shortcuts (known as heuristics or biases) initially focused on economics. Princeton professor, Nobel laureate, and author of the seminal book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman (with many others) devised a variety of experiments that revealed why people make apparently irrational choices about money. But these mental shortcuts apply to risk perception and decision-making in general.
For example, people are more sensitive to, and more troubled by, loss than they are pleased by equivalent gain—a mental shortcut called loss aversion. Kahneman asked doctors to choose between two treatments, one which would save 10 percent of patients and one which would cause 90 percent to die. The options are equivalent, but doctors overwhelmingly preferred the choice that would save 10 percent because losing patients feels terrible. Losing polar bears feels bad, too, as does losing rainforest and soil and the Arctic ice—in part because the very word “losing” evokes a mental shortcut that makes circumstances feel more painful.
Another shortcut is known as the “representative effect.” We routinely assess bits of information based on how they fit into patterns of what we already know and believe. When we make quick initial judgments about people, we term this stereotyping. So if I told Michael, “There’s a new industrial chemical called bovine growth hormone that’s being used to increase milk production,” he would instantly place that statement into a context based on what he already knows and feels about “industrial chemicals.” Consequently, his first response to the mention of bovine growth hormone (BGH) would probably be worried and negative. He knows practically no facts about the chemical itself, but he is able to make an initial judgment by fitting it into a framework of what the first few facts represent.
The way information “feels” is also powerfully influenced by the context and meaning in which it is initially presented. This is known as “framing.” If I tell my environ-mentalist friend, Nancy, “There are new power-plant designs that most environmentalists support,” she will feel differently than if I say, “There are new power-plant designs that the energy industry supports.” She may not know anything about those designs, but she will be more worried about them simply because of how I first framed the few facts I presented.
Fear Factors
What skews our sense of danger?
Some risks may be instinctive—the dark, enclosed spaces, snakes, spiders. But we aren’t born afraid of mercury or nuclear power or “chemicals.” What makes them particularly scary? And why are huge environmental threats such as climate change, particulate air pollution, and ocean acidification perceived as less scary than the evidence indicates?
In the 1970s, some of Kahneman’s partners—including Paul Slovic and Baruch Fischhoff—conducted a series of studies, finding that risks essentially have personality traits or psychological “risk-perception factors” that make factual information feel more, or less, frightening. Risk-perception factors give the cold, hard evidence its affective meaning, its emotional valence. More than a dozen of these factors have been identified; some with the strongest influence on our perception of environmental risks include:
Is it natural or human-made? If a risk is human-made, it will feel scarier than if it’s natural. That’s one reason why radiation from nuclear power scares Nancy more than radiation from the sun, and why Andrea worries more about industrial pharmaceuticals than herbal remedies. It’s a big part of why some people worry about genetically modified food but not about hybrids created “the natural way.”
Is the risk imposed or voluntary? A risk we choose to take won’t worry us as much as a risk that’s imposed on us. Nancy is less afraid of exposing herself to the carcinogenic radiation of the sun because she chooses to do so. The radioactivity from Chernobyl or Fukushima, which is actually less carcinogenic, is imposed on her. That makes it feel scarier.
Risk versus benefit. The greater the benefit of a choice or behavior, the less afraid we’ll be of any risk that it may involve. Nancy enjoys looking tanned, a benefit that makes exposing herself to carcinogenic radiation less scary. She perceives no direct personal benefit from nuclear power, which is part of the reason why that risk feels greater.
Trust. Trust has a huge influence on our risk perceptions. Most of what we claim to know has actually only been learned from others—sources that, for various reasons, we trust. Michael has not studied the toxicology of mercury. Nancy has no first-hand knowledge of the science regarding the biological effects of nuclear radiation. But sources they trust have warned them about these threats, and trust has made those warnings powerful.
Can it happen to me? We worry much more about dangers we think will affect us personally. This is why concern about climate change is broad but thin. Polls have found that most people believe that the negative impacts of climate change will affect only polar bears—or somebody else. Perhaps the recent spate of extreme weather will change that risk perception.
Risks to kids. We’re much more concerned about risks to children than risks to adults. Recently, environmental groups successfully pressured Johnson & Johnson to remove potentially carcinogenic ingredients from its products, by specifically targeting the company’s baby shampoo.
Safety in Numbers
For tribal cohesion, open minds are dangerous
So how do we sense whom to trust? Research in cultural cognition theory by Yale University law professor Dan Kahan and colleagues offers some important answers. They found that how people see facts depends on which groups they belong to. In other words, people routinely cherry-pick the evidence that supports the opinions of the group(s) with which they most strongly identify. According to the theory of cultural cognition, people can be categorized by four descriptors, based on deeply underlying worldviews about how society should operate.
Hierarchists prefer a predictable, “the way it’s always been” approach to issues as well as a rigid hierarchical ladder of social and economic class. They don’t like change, and they don’t want government shaking things up and leveling the playing field in an effort to make things fair. Hierarchists tend to deny climate change because the solutions will require government intervention and economic change.
Egalitarians prefer a society that feels fairer and more flexible and not stuck in rigid hierarchies. They like government intervention that challenges the entrenched power of the economic status quo, so the seriousness and urgency of climate change is music to an egalitarian’s ears.
Individualists prefer that society and government let individuals decide things for themselves. Communitarians, on the other hand, prefer a “we’re all in this together” society. Individualists generally deny the evidence of climate change and communitarians generally accept it, because solving such an immense problem is more compatible with their worldview.
This tribalism is reinforced by the trusted “thought leaders” who carry a tribe’s ideological banner. What Al Gore or Bill McKibben says about climate change is taken as a matter of faith by egalitarians and communitarians, not because Gore or McKibben is a scientific expert, but because they champion the sorts of egalitarian and communitarian approaches to the problem that ring true to those worldviews. To hierarchists and individualists, climate-change deniers such as George Will or Senator James Inhofe speak “the truth” because they are the intellectual standard-bearers of a more conservative/libertarian worldview that appeals to those groups.
Cultural cognition explains why bright, educated people can see the same facts in such different ways. It also explains why we argue about them so fiercely. We are social animals, and we have come to rely on our particular group for our health and safety. By agreeing with our group, we are accepted as members in good standing. That helps keep us safe, and it reinforces the solidarity and influence of our group within the larger society. If society is functioning in the way we prefer, we feel safer; when society isn’t operating by our preferred rules, we feel threatened.
There is no doubt that getting risks wrong can itself be risky. No matter how smart we like to think we are, our instincts sometimes produce these dangerous mistakes. The perception gap can lead to dangerous personal choices and behaviors, such as Nancy’s getting too much sun or Michael’s giving up healthy foods that “feel” scary. The perception gap can also lead to dangerous policies. Nuclear-power fears have profoundly shaped national energy strategies. In the absence of other large-scale energy alternatives, we continue to burn coal—which kills tens of thousands of people, sickens millions due to particulate pollution, and plays a major role in perturbing the climate. Furthermore, worrying more than the evidence warrants creates unnecessary stress. Chronic stress can raise blood pressure, weaken immune systems, and increase the likelihood of suffering from clinical depression and Type 2 diabetes.
So where does this leave us? Are Michael and Nancy and Andrea, and you and I, the powerless victims of what environmental writer Andy Revkin calls our “Inconvenient Mind”? Was Scottish philosopher David Hume right when he observed, “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”
No. There is hope. Existential philosopher Nicola Abbagnano put it better: “Reason itself is fallible, and this fallibility must find a place in our logic.” We can fight back against this fallibility by intelligently applying what we’ve learned about why our perceptions of risk sometimes don’t match the evidence. But that will require some difficult and giant leaps. Here are a few places for each of us to start.
Slow down. Think things through. Give yourself more time than you usually take. Don’t just go with your initial gut instinct, which is shaped by all those risk-perception factors and mental shortcuts that may get you into trouble.
Get more information. Having more facts will give reason a bit more say in the process. Also, use your own brain; don’t just rely on somebody else’s. Do a little digging yourself.
Expand the range of sources from which you get information. Don’t just rely on the ones from your tribe because they feel trustworthy. And be just a little more cautious about what your trusted sources say. After all, environmental groups and leaders have agendas too, just like politicians and corporations and government agencies. Just because their views might match yours and feel good doesn’t mean your sources aren’t spinning the facts to advance their point of view—rather than to honestly and objectively inform you.
Will thinking more carefully make us perfectly objective Cartesian rationalists? Hardly. The instinctive, subjective way we interpret things is powerful and deeply embedded in the way our brain works; it actually operates subconsciously and beyond our free will. We can’t completely overcome it. But if we can achieve a post-Enlightenment acceptance of the limits to reason and realize the very real danger those limits create, we can engage our powerful mental capacities to combat the instincts that send us tumbling into the perception gap.
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Nature

The Authors
William E. Duellman and Linda Trueb are curators in the division of herpetology at the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas, Lawrence.
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Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico: Two Volume Hardcover set- by Carl H. & Evelyn M. Ernst
Volume I - Heloderma, Micruroides, Micrurus, Pelamis, Agkistrodon, Sistrurus-
Volume 2 - Crotalus
The Johns Hopkins University Press, Combined over 800 pages.
LIST PRICE-$150.00 for set $75.00 each book. OUR PRICE- $120.00 for set, $ 60.00 for each book.
Description
Volume One of this definitive work presents dramatically improved species accounts of the venomous lizards and elapid and viperid snakes found north of Mexico’s twenty-fifth parallel.
Volume Two covers the twenty-one rattlesnakes found in the United States, Canada, and, for the first time, species found only in northern Mexico.
Ernst and Ernst have painstakingly researched and verified the highly valuable and detailed information in this volume, including every detail of the lives of these fascinating and sometimes deadly animals. Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico provides facts on each animal’s diet, reproductive behavior, physiology, ecology, and conservation status. The book also covers details on snakebite, how venom is delivered, venom composition, antivenom production, and medical treatments of envenomation. Each species account includes vivid photographs that aid with identification and detailed maps that show the species range.
Mixing their own research with careful data description and intriguing stories, Ernst and Ernst present the most accurate and interesting view of North America’s rattlesnakes available. They provide general background information on Crotalus, including venom delivery systems, how rattles function, what rattlesnakes eat, and what eats rattlesnakes. Additionally, they offer specific and fascinating details, such as observations of rattlesnakes swimming to offshore islands, accounts of male combat bouts, possible "anting" behavior in Crotalus viridis, and the features of the Santa Catalina Island rattleless rattlesnake. Each species account includes vivid photographs, range maps, and explanations of the limits to their respective distribution.
Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico represents the latest research on these animals and includes the most extensive bibliography of literature on the subject. Anyone with an interest in venom, snakes, or herpetology in general will find a wealth of information within the pages of these impressive volumes.

About the Authors
Carl H. Ernst, professor emeritus at George Mason University and a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, is coauthor of Turtles of the United States and Canada, also published by Johns Hopkins . Until her recent retirement, Evelyn M. Ernst taught high school chemistry and biology and was an administrator with the National Science Resources Center. Together they wrote Snakes of the United States and Canada.
Editorial Reviews
Likely to remain the standard reference for the next 20 years.
SciTech Book News

Ernst has provided a beautiful summary of the literature in this area. Anyone interested in the biology of these reptiles will find in this book a spectacular time-saver... He has done the field of herpetology a great service.
The Quarterly Review of Biology

This is an authoritative summary of the authors' personal research and more than 3,000 literature sources. An excellent resource for professionals in many fields for years to come and a detailed reference book for anyone wishing to know about venomous snakes.

This two-volume set is by far the most complete, thoroughly researched, and accurate work on North American venomous reptiles yet published... Essential.
Choice

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico will be the standard reference for herpetologists, and a source of fascination for enthusiasts.
Steven Winchell Reptilia

Carl and Evelyn Ernst have completely revised their landmark reference Venomous Reptiles of North America to present the most comprehensive review of these animals in years.
Midwest Book Review

A well written and detailed set of reference books... covering topics of great interest to both reptile enthusiast and the professional herpetologist alike.
Daniel P. Madigan, Indianapolis Zoo

These books have more information on these reptiles than I have ever seen in a book. Carl Ernst and Evelyn Ernst were great in compiling the information to make this book into an amazing and informational read. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.
Cybertron Reviews

These fascinating books cover all the venomous lizards and snakes... An essential purchase for academic and large public libraries, and a very worthwhile acquisition for herpetological library public or private.
Frederic F. Burchsted American Reference Books Annual


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Turtles of the United States and Canada (Hardcover)
by Carl H. Ernst and Jeffrey E. Lovich, Hardcover,

840 pages, The John Hopkins University Press, Second Edition, 7.3 lbs.

LIST PRICE $100.00 - OUR PRICE $79.95 Plus $13.00 for S&H

Ernst and Lovich’s thoroughly revised edition of this classic reference provides the most updated information ever assembled on the natural histories of North American turtles.

From diminutive mud turtles to giant alligator snappers, two of North America’s most prominent experts describe the turtles that live in the fresh, brackish, and marine waters north of Mexico. Incorporating the explosion of new scientific information published on turtles over the past fifteen years—including the identification of four new species—Ernst and Lovich supply comprehensive coverage of all fifty-eight species, with discussions of conservation status and recovery efforts.
Each species account contains information on identification, genetics, fossil record, distribution, geographic variation, habitat, behavior, reproduction, biology, growth and longevity, food habits, populations, predators, and conservation status. The book includes range maps for freshwater and terrestrial species, a glossary of scientific names, an extensive bibliography for further research, and an index to scientific and common names.
Logically organized and richly illustrated—with more than two hundred color photographs and fifty-two maps— Turtles of the United States and Canada remains the standard for libraries, museums, nature centers, field biologists, and professional and amateur herpetologists alike.

Editorial Reviews

A] monumental work... the standard reference to North American turtles for the next generation of biologists. Every serious vertebrate biologist on the continent will want a copy.
Herpetological Review

The most comprehensive compilation on North American turtles ever attempted and achieved.
Herpetofauna

In 1972, C. H. Ernst completed the daunting task of compiling a sequel to A. F. Carr's (1952) landmark Handbook of Turtles. Two decades later, Ernst, this time with assistance from former student and fellow cheloniophile J. E. Lovich, has done it again.
Copeia

For all turtle aficionados, this comprehensive review is the first of its kind published in the last twenty-five years.
Science News

If I did for some reason need to limit my turtle library to a single volume this book would be the one.
David S. Lee Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society

Ernst and Lovich have outdone themselves this time. The terms 'monumental' and of 'epic proportions' certainly come to mind... Truly amazing... This book is a real gem.
Chuck Schaffer Turtle and Tortoise Newsletter

The 645 pages of text, plus over 150 pages of references make it an almost limitless source of information on the chelonia of this part of the world. For such a well-presented and beautifully illustrated book, it represents excellent value for money for professional and amateur herpetologists alike.

Christine Tilley British Chelonia Group Newsletter

A comprehensive reference that summarizes the current knowledge about the 56 turtle species of the U.S. and Canada, of which 13 are protected under the Endangered Species Act.
Book News

Anyone interested in turtles will want this book!
Birdbooker Report

Any college-level natural sciences library serious about turtles must have this substantially revised, updated second edition of the classic reference: Turtles of the United States and Canada. New species names supplements color photos charts, maps, and more in an extensive, detailed reference that is a 'must' for any definitive library.
Midwest Book Review

This work will be a standard reference on the shelves of libraries and other institutions with an interest in turtles.
Helen Ashton Reference Reviews

This second edition is an impressive accomplishment. Summarizing so much provides information is a daunting task and this book provides an amazing gateway into the vast body of scientific literature on North American turtles.
David Seburn Canadian Field-Naturalist

Turtles of the United States and Canada continues to be among the best taxa-specific ecological references ever compiled. It should be on the shelf of every library, serious turtle expert, herpetologist, vertebrate ecologist, or natural history buff.
Joshua M. Kapfer Natural Areas Journal 2010-01-00

A work of art.
(bio)accumulation

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Re: Herp- Digest Newsletter

Postby Philsuma » Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:05 pm

HerpDigest.org: The Only Free Weekly Electronic Newsletter That Reports on the Latest News on Herpetological Conservation, Husbandry and Science
Volume # 13 Issue # 35 8/18/13
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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HerpDigest is a non-profit organization that is totally dependent on your generosity for its continued existence. Please feel free to make a donation.

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Each Issue a New Book(s) Will go on Sale for A Limited Time Period. Usually One to Two Weeks. Prices will vary from Full price to 3/4 off list price. From 8/10/13 to 8/24/13 get:

ONLY ONE LEFT-
“Snakes of the United States and Canada” by Carl and Evelyn Ernst. The definitive work on the snakes of US & Canada. 680 pages, Hardcover. List $70.00 now $55.00 plus $12 for S&H in the US (It’s over 5 lbs) . No other book provides as thorough or as reliable coverage. People constantly ask me for books on specific species. Well all those books are in here. The most complete coverage of snakes in the US & Canada ever.

This monumental reference begins with an introduction to snake biology and evolution, which is followed by an identification guide and key to the North American species. The heart of the book is the species accounts which, accompanied by color photographs, provide detailed information on identifying features, geographic variation, known fossils, current distribution, habitat type, behavior, reproduction, growth, diet, and predators. Completing the book is a glossary of terms and a comprehensive reference section.

(See bottom of Newsletter on how to order, If overseas-and that ironically includes Canada- email us as asalzberg@herpdigest.org for a shipping quote.)
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:

1) New Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas app for iPhones and Android devices.
2) Sea turtles and their cultural aspects in the East of the World, Land of the Dragon.
3) Loggerhead sea turtles nesting in Ga. increase
4) Florida FWC: We want to know about rare snake sightings
5) Global Analysis of Anthropogenic Debris Ingestion by Sea Turtles
6) New Brunswick boys' python deaths prompts provincial review
7) Animal advocates are urging the government to fund a reptile rescue facility after 56 illegal pythons were seized from a Mission home and destroyed
8) Female Frogs Prefer Males Who Can Multitask
9) Resarchers use circulation models, genetics to track 'lost years' of turtles

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See below for more books on sale,

Frogs of the US & Canada 2 volume Hardcover set,

Biology of Amphibians,

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico: Two Volume Hardcover set,

Turtles of U.S. & Canada and

“Turtles & Tortoises for Dummies”

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1) New Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas app for iPhones and Android devices.
Users can even submit observations using the app, including photos and GPS locations. Here’s the link: http://www.ontarionature.org/protect/species/app.php
Share this link and I’ll make a donation!
From
Geri Poisson, B.A. (Hon) / Certified Arborist, Terrestrial Ecologist
BEACON ENVIRONMENTAL
126 Kimberley Avenue, Bracebridge, ON P1L 1Z9
T) 705.645.1050 x22 F) 705.645.6639 C) 705.828.1196
www.beaconenviro.com

(Editors-Anyone know of other such apps?)
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2) Sea turtles and their cultural aspects in the East of the World, Land of the Dragon.

From Connie Ka-yan NG
PhD candidate
City University of Hong Kong
Email: kayan.ng.connie@gmail.com/ kayng64-c@my.cityu.edu.hk

I am part time PhD student of the City University of Hong Kong studying sea turtles in southern China and Taiwan. As part of my PhD dissertation work, I have conducted several research exploratory trips, some in collaboration with my mentor, Hawaii-based researcher George Balazs. I am pleased to share with you three articles with photos, in both English and Chinese, produced from these visits. The articles are on the USA website of the Hawaii Preparatory Academy for easy access.

Hope you will enjoy the stories of sea turtles and their cultural aspects in the East of the World, Land of the Dragon.

Best Regards,
Connie Ng

Ng, K.Y., and G.H. BALAZS. 2013. Exciting observations of numerous green turtles foraging in coastal waters of Liuqiu Island, Taiwan.
http://akepa.hpa.edu/~mrice/turtle/liuqiu.pdf

Ng, K.Y., and G.H. BALAZS. 2013. From Traditional Culture to Science - Exploratory Trips for Sea Turtles in Taiwan.
http://akepa.hpa.edu/~mrice/st.htm

Ng, K.Y., and G.H. BALAZS. 2013. Exploratory Trips for Sea Turtles in Guangdong Province, China – A Road to Conservation from Tradition, Culture and Science.
http://akepa.hpa.edu/~mrice/st2.htm
**********
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3) Loggerhead sea turtles nesting in Ga. increase
BRUNSWICK, Ga. (AP) 8/16/13— State officials say that loggerhead sea turtles nesting in Georgia have topped last year's record.
Mark Dodd is the sea turtle program coordinator with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Dodd said this week that nesting on barrier island beaches have already reached 2,243, which is more than the 2,141 nests last year.
Dodd says it's a new record for the fourth straight year. Nest totals for the federally threatened reptiles have been climbing steadily since 2009.
Dodd credits the recovery to conservation measures but adds the current numbers are still short of federal recovery benchmarks, which is a 2 percent annual increase for 50 years resulting in a statewide total of 2,800 nests annually.
Nesting season is nearly over and the final numbers will be available in the fall.

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4) Florida FWC: We want to know about rare snake sightings
Written by, The News Service of Florida 8/15/13
Biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission want people to report when they see three species of rare, non-venomous snakes.
The three species are being considered for federal listing as endangered or threatened species, and Kevin Enge, FWC research biologist, said reports from the public "will aid us in determining where these snakes live and their status."
The three species ---Florida pine snake, southern hognose snake and short-tailed snake --- are found in dry, upland habitats and spend most of their time underground. Occasionally they may be seen moving along the surface or crossing a road.
To report seeing one of the snakes --- dead or alive --- go online to the FWC's "rare snake registry." Visit MyFWC.com/Conservation, select “How You Can Conserve,” and choose “Snakes” under “Living with Wildlife."
The FWC requests the location and date of the sighting, along with photos if possible.
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5) Global Analysis of Anthropogenic Debris Ingestion by Sea Turtles
Conservation Biology 8/5/13
1. QAMAR SCHUYLER1,
2. BRITTA DENISE HARDESTY2,
3. CHRIS WILCOX3,
4. KATHY TOWNSEND1

1School of Biological Sciences, Moreton Bay Research Station, University of Queensland, Dunwich, Queensland 4183, Australia
2Ecosystem Sciences, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Sandy Bay, Tasmania 7005, Australia
3Marine and Atmospheric Research, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Hobart, Tasmania 7000, Australia
Email: QAMAR SCHUYLER (q.schuyler@uq.edu.au)
Abstract
Ingestion of marine debris can have lethal and sublethal effects on sea turtles and other wildlife. Although researchers have reported on ingestion of anthropogenic debris by marine turtles and implied incidences of debris ingestion have increased over time, there has not been a global synthesis of the phenomenon since 1985. Thus, we analyzed 37 studies published from 1985 to 2012 that report on data collected from before 1900 through 2011. Specifically, we investigated whether ingestion prevalence has changed over time, what types of debris are most commonly ingested, the geographic distribution of debris ingestion by marine turtles relative to global debris distribution, and which species and life-history stages are most likely to ingest debris. The probability of green (Chelonia mydas) and leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) ingesting debris increased significantly over time, and plastic was the most commonly ingested debris. Turtles in nearly all regions studied ingest debris, but the probability of ingestion was not related to modeled debris densities. Furthermore, smaller, oceanic-stage turtles were more likely to ingest debris than coastal foragers, whereas carnivorous species were less likely to ingest debris than herbivores or gelatinovores. Our results indicate oceanic leatherback turtles and green turtles are at the greatest risk of both lethal and sublethal effects from ingested marine debris. To reduce this risk, anthropogenic debris must be managed at a global level.
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6) N.B. boys' python deaths prompts provincial review
Government will look at whether exotic wildlife regulations need to be changed, says premier
CBC News -Posted: Aug 16, 2013
New Brunswick Premier David Alward is promising a review of provincial exotic wildlife regulations after two boys were killed by a python in Campbellton earlier this month.
An African rock python kept in an apartment above Reptile Ocean escaped its enclosure and asphyxiated Noah Barthe, 4, and his brother Connor, 6, during a sleepover.
Alward said the ongoing police investigation is the priority, but the provincial government will also look at whether it needs to change its policies or regulations.
"You can be certain that various government departments, various levels of government, need to know and understand the regulations that are in place, and are there gaps in place that could eliminate problems or reduce risk in the future?"
Alward made the comments on Friday, following a news conference on the One-Job Pledge initiative. It was the first time any provincial official has taken questions on the issue since the boys' bodies were discovered on Aug. 5.
In an e-mail statement last week, the provincial Department of Natural Resources said African rock pythons are not permitted in New Brunswick.
The only exceptions granted would be for accredited zoos, not for someone to keep an illegal exotic animal as a pet, officials said.
Reptile Ocean is an unlicensed zoo and pet store, according to officials.
"Regulations alone will not eliminate things happening," said Alward. "So we need to know and understand what took place, how could that risk have ever been reduced, and how do we ensure we deal with that in the future?"
It's believed the python escaped through the top of a glass enclosure and into a ventilation system. The python, which was 4.3 metres long and weighed about 45 kilograms, fell through the ceiling and into the room where the Barthe boys were sleeping.
Earlier this week, a former employee of Reptile Ocean alleged that the python escaped because of human error involving a missing ventilation fan in its enclosure.
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7) Animal advocates are urging the government to fund a reptile rescue facility after 56 illegal pythons were seized from a Mission home and destroyed
By Christine Tam Global News
Animal advocates are urging the government to fund a reptile rescue facility after 56 illegal pythons were seized from a Mission home and destroyed.
Conservation officers made the slithery discovery Thursday. The seized species, some reaching five metres long, were amongst 100 snakes living at the residence.
The 56 reticulated pythons, which are restricted by the B.C. Ministry of Environment over safety concerns, were destroyed and the other legal snakes were left at the home.
Conservation officer Dave Cox said the snakes were euthanized because they pose a risk to public safety and are a dangerous animal.
Dewdney Animal Hospital veterinarian Dr. Adrian Walton, who euthanized the snakes, has a permit to keep the restricted reptiles, but faced a heart-wrenching decision when so many needed a home.
“That was my call. We are the only facility in B.C. that has a rescue licence to keep them and I am currently full. I have space for five snakes and that’s it,” he said.
Mike Hopcraft, who runs The Reptile Guy education centre, said the government imposed the ban without considering where to put the illegal animals.
“The government put new laws in place four years ago to prohibit these animals but did not put a plan in place to house them when they are confiscated so now they are all senselessly being executed,” Hopcraft said.
Hopcraft said the ministry needs to fund a rescue centre for the seized and confiscated illegal reptiles.
Walton said relocating the snakes would have been very difficult because every jurisdiction bans the animals.
As a result, the 56 snakes were euthanized.
“As a veterinarian we do this humanly,” Watson said. “You have to remember I love these animals, this would be very upsetting for me if I didn’t think we could do it humanely.”
This latest seizure comes just days after 40 pythons were seized from a southern Ontario motel room where children were living.
Earlier in August, two young boys were killed by an African rock python in New Brunswick.
Walton said that while it is rare for these animals to kill or injure people, it is inappropriate for them to be kept in homes.
“These large snakes… some are not so nice… they are inappropriate to have in a private residence. They should be kept in a zoological facility,” Walton said.
Hopcraft hopes this kind of facility will be funded in the future.
“Why is it that the snakes don’t count as lives? When will people realize that these are all living creatures?” he said.
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8) Female Frogs Prefer Males Who Can Multitask
Aug. 16, 2013 — Science Daily- From frogs to humans, selecting a mate is complicated. Females of many species judge suitors based on many indicators of health or parenting potential. But it can be difficult for males to produce multiple signals that demonstrate these qualities simultaneously.
In a study of gray tree frogs, a team of University of Minnesota researchers discovered that females prefer males whose calls reflect the ability to multitask effectively. In this species (Hyla chrysoscelis) males produce "trilled" mating calls that consist of a string of pulses.
Typical calls can range in duration from 20-40 pulses per call and occur between 5-15 calls per minute. Males face a trade-off between call duration and call rate, but females preferred calls that are longer and more frequent, which is no simple task.
The findings were published in August issue of Animal Behavior.
"It's kind of like singing and dancing at the same time," says Jessica Ward, a postdoctoral researcher who is lead author for the study. Ward works in the laboratory of Mark Bee, a professor in the College of Biological Sciences' Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior.
The study supports the multitasking hypothesis, which suggests that females prefer males who can do two or more hard-to-do things at the same time because these are especially good quality males, Ward says. The hypothesis, which explores how multiple signals produced by males influence female behavior, is a new area of interest in animal behavior research.
By listening to recordings of 1,000 calls, Ward and colleagues learned that males are indeed forced to trade off call duration and call rate. That is, males that produce relatively longer calls only do so at relatively slower rates.
"It's easy to imagine that we humans might also prefer multitasking partners, such as someone who can successfully earn a good income, cook dinner, manage the finances and get the kids to soccer practice on time."
The study was carried out in connection with Bee's research goal, which is understanding how female frogs are able to distinguish individual mating calls from a large chorus of males. By comparison, humans, especially as we age, lose the ability to distinguish individual voices in a crowd. This phenomenon, called the "cocktail party" problem, is often the first sign of a diminishing ability to hear. Understanding how frogs hear could lead to improved hearing aids.
Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by University of Minnesota.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.
Journal Reference:
1. Jessica L. Ward, Elliot K. Love, Alejandro Vélez, Nathan P. Buerkle, Lisa R. O'Bryan, Mark A. Bee. Multitasking males and multiplicative females: dynamic signalling and receiver preferences in Cope's grey treefrog. Animal Behaviour, 2013; 86 (2): 231 DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.05.016
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9) Resarchers use circulation models, genetics to track 'lost years' of turtles
August 15th, 2013, Phys.org.

When green turtles toddle out to the ocean after hatching from eggs at sandy beaches they more or less disappear from view and aren't seen again for several years until they show up as juveniles at coastal foraging areas.
Researchers have long puzzled over what happens to the turtles during these "lost years," as they were dubbed decades ago. Now a new study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B outlines where they likely would be based on ocean currents.
It is the first quantitative estimate of juvenile turtle distribution across an entire ocean basin and experts say it is significant because it gives researchers in North America, South America, Europe and Africa an idea of where hatchlings that emerge on beaches will go next, and where the juveniles foraging along the coastlines most likely came from.
"Hatchling sea turtles are too small for transmitters and electronic tags, and their mortality rate is sufficiently high to make it cost-prohibitive anyway," said Nathan F. Putman, a post-doctoral researcher at Oregon State University and lead author on the study. "Even if you could develop a perfect sensor, you would need tens of thousands of them because baby turtles get gobbled up at such a fast rate. So we decided to look at an indirect approach."
Putman and his colleague, Eugenia Naro-Maciel of City University of New York, used sophisticated ocean circulation models to trace the likely route of baby green turtles from known nesting sites once they entered the water. They also identified known locations of foraging sites where the turtles reappeared as juveniles, and went backwards – tracing where they most likely arrived via currents.
"This is not a definitive survey of where turtles go – it is more a simplification of reality – but it is a starting point and a big and comprehensive starting point at that," Putman pointed out. "Turtles have flippers and can swim, so they aren't necessarily beholden to the currents. But what this study provides is an indication of the oceanic environment that young turtles encounter, and how this environment likely influences turtle distributions.
"When we compared the predictions of population connectivity from our ocean current model and estimates from a genetic model, we found that they correlate pretty well," said Putman, a researcher in OSU's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. "Each approach, individually, has limitations but when you put them together the degree of uncertainty is substantially reduced."
The researchers simulated the dispersal of turtles from each of 29 separate locations in the Atlantic and West Indian Ocean and identified "hot spots" throughout these basins where computer models suggest that virtual turtles would be densely aggregated. This includes portions of the southern Caribbean, the Sargasso Sea, and portions of the South Atlantic Ocean and the West Indian Ocean.
In contrast, they estimate that the fewest number of turtles would be located in the open ocean along the equator between South America and central Africa.
Based on the models, it appears that turtles from many populations would circumnavigate the Atlantic Ocean basin. "Backtracking" simulations revealed that numerous foraging grounds were predicted to have turtles arrive from the North Atlantic, South Atlantic and Southwest Indian oceans. Thus, a high degree of connectivity among populations appears likely based on circulation patterns at the ocean surface.
Putman said the next step in the research might be for turtle biologists throughout the Atlantic Ocean basin to "ground truth" the model by looking for young turtles in those hotspots. Knowing more about their early life history and migration routes could help in managing the population, he said.
"Perhaps the best part about this modeling is that it is a testable hypothesis," Putman said. "People studying turtles throughout the Atlantic basin will have predictions of turtle distributions based on solid oceanographic data to help interpret what they are observing.
"Finding these little turtles is like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack," Putman added. "But at least we've helped researchers understand where that haystack most likely would be located."
Putman also has a study coming out in Biology Letters using similar methodology to predict ocean distribution patterns for the Kemp's ridley sea turtle.
More information: rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/280/1768/20131468.short
Provided by Oregon State University
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READ THIS BOOK BEFORE YOU BUY A TURTLE OR TORTOISE OR EVEN IF YOU ALREADY HAVE TEN TURTLES OR TORTOISES.

FIRST The book’s list price is $21.99, But you can have it for only $9.95 plus $6.00 for S&H.

THAT MEANS EVEN WITH S&H COSTS ITS CHEAPER THAN LIST PRICE. CHEAPER THAN YOU WILL FIND IT ANYWHERE. INCLUDING AMAZON.

AND don’t let the title fool you, “Turtles & Tortoises for Dummies” by Liz Palika, (author of over 20 pet care books) is full of information on over 100 different kinds of turtles and tortoises, and is a great cheap way to find out if a turtle or tortoise is the pet for you and/or your child.

“Turtles & Tortoises for Dummies” has over 280 pages of information on habitat (indoors or outdoors) and nutritional needs. (Such as should you feed a turtle or tortoise iceberg lettuce?) Turtles such as the red-eared slider (remember those little green turtles many of us had as kids- well is the advertised price of the turtle the real cost of the turtle when you add its home and food, Of course not. But by how much?) to the now commonly sold Sulcata tortoise. (Just how big do they grow?)

This book will tell you how to tell a healthy turtle from a sick one, answer the question if you should you get captive bred versus wild-caught, explain the various local to international laws concerning their ownership. And more. Much more.

S&H costs for overseas orders, contact us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org) (See the bottom of this newsletter on how to order.

This book will help you find out if buying one for your child, or you, is a smart move. (And contrary to what the seller of the turtle will tell you, zoos do not accept donations of unwanted pet turtles.)

This already heavily discounted book can save you hundreds of dollars.

More Books on Sale

Frogs of the United States and Canada, 2-vol. set by C.Kenneth Dodd

LIST PRICE - $180.00 for entire set, no splitting of set, OUR PRICE - $150.00 2 books Combined, 1032 pages, 5.4 pounds, Add $13.00 S&H within the US.

Book Description

With many frog populations declining or disappearing and developmental malformations and disease afflicting others, scientists, conservationists, and concerned citizens need up-to-date, accurate information. Frogs of the United States and Canada is a comprehensive resource for those trying to protect amphibians as well as for researchers and wildlife managers who study biodiversity. From acrobatic tree frogs to terrestrial toads, C. Kenneth Dodd Jr. offers an unparalleled synthesis of the biology, behavior, and conservation of frogs in North America.

This two-volume, fully referenced resource provides color photographs and range maps for 106 native and nonindigenous species and includes detailed information on- past and present distribution- life history and demography - reproduction and diet- landscape ecology and evolution- - diseases, parasites, and threats from toxic substances- conservation and management

Editorial Reviews

A MUST have for those with an interest in the frogs of the region!

(Ian Paulsen The Guardian 2013-01-00)


The best frog book ever written.

(Whit Gibbons Aiken Standard 2013-01-00)

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Biology of Amphibians

by William E. Duellman and Linda Trueb, Paperback,

670 pages, The Johns Hopkins University Press

List Price $60.00 Our price $49.95.00 plus $13.00 S&H.

This is the widely acclaimed, preeminent reference and text on all aspects of amphibian biology, including their life history, ecology, morphology, and evolution. Copiously illustrated with original drawings and photographs and meticulously referenced with more than 2,500 bibliographic entries, it has proved indispensable to professional biologists and students alike. Now reissued in paperback with an updated preface by the authors, Biology of Amphibians remains the standard work in its field.

Reviews

Duellman and Trueb truly review the biology of amphibians, covering most conceivable topics from cytogenetics and development to biogeography and phylogeny... There is no recent textbook on amphibian biology that is worthy of comparison.

Science

An impressive review of current knowledge concerning all aspects of amphibian biology. The authors have organized a tremendous number of facts, observations, and theories around the complementary themes of structure and evolution... A major undertaking.

Bioscience

The text is clear and concise and richly illustrated... This book goes some way towards being all one could wish for and is likely to be an important source of reference.

Nature


The Authors

William E. Duellman and Linda Trueb are curators in the division of herpetology at the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas, Lawrence.

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Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico: Two Volume Hardcover set- by Carl H. & Evelyn M. Ernst

Volume I - Heloderma, Micruroides, Micrurus, Pelamis, Agkistrodon, Sistrurus-

Volume 2 - Crotalus

The Johns Hopkins University Press, Combined over 800 pages.

LIST PRICE-$150.00 for set $75.00 each book. OUR PRICE- $120.00 for set, $ 60.00 for each book.

Description

Volume One of this definitive work presents dramatically improved species accounts of the venomous lizards and elapid and viperid snakes found north of Mexico’s twenty-fifth parallel.

Volume Two covers the twenty-one rattlesnakes found in the United States, Canada, and, for the first time, species found only in northern Mexico.

Ernst and Ernst have painstakingly researched and verified the highly valuable and detailed information in this volume, including every detail of the lives of these fascinating and sometimes deadly animals. Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico provides facts on each animal’s diet, reproductive behavior, physiology, ecology, and conservation status. The book also covers details on snakebite, how venom is delivered, venom composition, antivenom production, and medical treatments of envenomation. Each species account includes vivid photographs that aid with identification and detailed maps that show the species range.

Mixing their own research with careful data description and intriguing stories, Ernst and Ernst present the most accurate and interesting view of North America’s rattlesnakes available. They provide general background information on Crotalus, including venom delivery systems, how rattles function, what rattlesnakes eat, and what eats rattlesnakes. Additionally, they offer specific and fascinating details, such as observations of rattlesnakes swimming to offshore islands, accounts of male combat bouts, possible "anting" behavior in Crotalus viridis, and the features of the Santa Catalina Island rattleless rattlesnake. Each species account includes vivid photographs, range maps, and explanations of the limits to their respective distribution.

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico represents the latest research on these animals and includes the most extensive bibliography of literature on the subject. Anyone with an interest in venom, snakes, or herpetology in general will find a wealth of information within the pages of these impressive volumes.


About the Authors

Carl H. Ernst, professor emeritus at George Mason University and a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, is coauthor of Turtles of the United States and Canada, also published by Johns Hopkins . Until her recent retirement, Evelyn M. Ernst taught high school chemistry and biology and was an administrator with the National Science Resources Center. Together they wrote Snakes of the United States and Canada.

Editorial Reviews

Likely to remain the standard reference for the next 20 years.

SciTech Book News

Ernst has provided a beautiful summary of the literature in this area. Anyone interested in the biology of these reptiles will find in this book a spectacular time-saver... He has done the field of herpetology a great service.

The Quarterly Review of Biology

This is an authoritative summary of the authors' personal research and more than 3,000 literature sources. An excellent resource for professionals in many fields for years to come and a detailed reference book for anyone wishing to know about venomous snakes.

This two-volume set is by far the most complete, thoroughly researched, and accurate work on North American venomous reptiles yet published... Essential.

Choice

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico will be the standard reference for herpetologists, and a source of fascination for enthusiasts.

Steven Winchell Reptilia

Carl and Evelyn Ernst have completely revised their landmark reference Venomous Reptiles of North America to present the most comprehensive review of these animals in years.

Midwest Book Review

A well written and detailed set of reference books... covering topics of great interest to both reptile enthusiast and the professional herpetologist alike.

Daniel P. Madigan, Indianapolis Zoo

These books have more information on these reptiles than I have ever seen in a book. Carl Ernst and Evelyn Ernst were great in compiling the information to make this book into an amazing and informational read. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Cybertron Reviews

These fascinating books cover all the venomous lizards and snakes... An essential purchase for academic and large public libraries, and a very worthwhile acquisition for herpetological library public or private.

Frederic F. Burchsted American Reference Books Annual

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Turtles of the United States and Canada (Hardcover)
by Carl H. Ernst and Jeffrey E. Lovich, Hardcover,

840 pages, The John Hopkins University Press, Second Edition, 7.3 lbs.

LIST PRICE $100.00 - OUR PRICE $79.95 Plus $13.00 for S&H

Ernst and Lovich’s thoroughly revised edition of this classic reference provides the most updated information ever assembled on the natural histories of North American turtles.

From diminutive mud turtles to giant alligator snappers, two of North America’s most prominent experts describe the turtles that live in the fresh, brackish, and marine waters north of Mexico. Incorporating the explosion of new scientific information published on turtles over the past fifteen years—including the identification of four new species—Ernst and Lovich supply comprehensive coverage of all fifty-eight species, with discussions of conservation status and recovery efforts.

Each species account contains information on identification, genetics, fossil record, distribution, geographic variation, habitat, behavior, reproduction, biology, growth and longevity, food habits, populations, predators, and conservation status. The book includes range maps for freshwater and terrestrial species, a glossary of scientific names, an extensive bibliography for further research, and an index to scientific and common names.

Logically organized and richly illustrated—with more than two hundred color photographs and fifty-two maps— Turtles of the United States and Canada remains the standard for libraries, museums, nature centers, field biologists, and professional and amateur herpetologists alike.


Editorial Reviews


A] monumental work... the standard reference to North American turtles for the next generation of biologists. Every serious vertebrate biologist on the continent will want a copy.

Herpetological Review

The most comprehensive compilation on North American turtles ever attempted and achieved.

Herpetofauna

In 1972, C. H. Ernst completed the daunting task of compiling a sequel to A. F. Carr's (1952) landmark Handbook of Turtles. Two decades later, Ernst, this time with assistance from former student and fellow cheloniophile J. E. Lovich, has done it again.

Copeia

For all turtle aficionados, this comprehensive review is the first of its kind published in the last twenty-five years.

Science News

If I did for some reason need to limit my turtle library to a single volume this book would be the one.

David S. Lee Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society

Ernst and Lovich have outdone themselves this time. The terms 'monumental' and of 'epic proportions' certainly come to mind... Truly amazing... This book is a real gem.

Chuck Schaffer Turtle and Tortoise Newsletter

The 645 pages of text, plus over 150 pages of references make it an almost limitless source of information on the chelonia of this part of the world. For such a well-presented and beautifully illustrated book, it represents excellent value for money for professional and amateur herpetologists alike.

Christine Tilley British Chelonia Group Newsletter

A comprehensive reference that summarizes the current knowledge about the 56 turtle species of the U.S. and Canada, of which 13 are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Book News

Anyone interested in turtles will want this book!

Birdbooker Report

Any college-level natural sciences library serious about turtles must have this substantially revised, updated second edition of the classic reference: Turtles of the United States and Canada. New species names supplements color photos charts, maps, and more in an extensive, detailed reference that is a 'must' for any definitive library.

Midwest Book Review

This work will be a standard reference on the shelves of libraries and other institutions with an interest in turtles.

Helen Ashton Reference Reviews

This second edition is an impressive accomplishment. Summarizing so much provides information is a daunting task and this book provides an amazing gateway into the vast body of scientific literature on North American turtles.

David Seburn Canadian Field-Naturalist

Turtles of the United States and Canada continues to be among the best taxa-specific ecological references ever compiled. It should be on the shelf of every library, serious turtle expert, herpetologist, vertebrate ecologist, or natural history buff.

Joshua M. Kapfer Natural Areas Journal 2010-01-00

A work of art.

(bio)accumulation

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HerpDigest.org: The Only Free Weekly Electronic Newsletter That Reports on the Latest News on Herpetological Conservation, Husbandry and Science
Volume # 13 Issue # 38 9/1/13
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. Support Flows in for Sick Desert Tortoises
2. No urban legend: Conn. officer kills chicken-menacing lizard after reports of roaming reptile
3. Snapping turtles finding refuge in urban areas while habitats are being polluted
4. China's Demand For Turtles Has Endangered Turtles Species In Asia, The United States Is Next Unless Regulated
5. Woodland Salamanders Indicators of Forest Ecosystem Recovery
6. Copperheads commonly mistaken for other snakes
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Books on sale

“Turtles & Tortoises for Dummies”

Frogs of the US & Canada 2 volume Hardcover set,

Biology of Amphibians,

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico: Two Volume Hardcover set,

Turtles of U.S. & Canada and

________________________________________________________________

1) Support Flows in for Sick Desert Tortoises
Time.com, by Hannah Dreier, AP, 8/29/13 Las Vegas — News that hundreds of threatened desert tortoises face euthanasia with the pending closure of a refuge near Las Vegas has generated a storm of reaction that has government officials scrambling to find alternatives and fielding offers from people wishing to adopt the reptiles or make donations.
The Associated Press reported this week that the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, which has sheltered thousands of displaced tortoises for 23 years, is scheduled to close in 2014 as funding runs out.
As the location just south of Las Vegas begins to ramp down, it is euthanizing tortoises deemed too unhealthy to return to the wild. Healthy tortoises won’t be killed.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service desert tortoise recovery coordinator Roy Averill-Murray estimated last week that about 50 percent to 60 percent of the 1,400 tortoises that live at the refuge were sick. Such tortoises cannot be released into the wild because they could infect their healthy wild brethren.
The estimate prompted a public outcry and debate among the various agencies connected to the refuge about the number of at-risk tortoises. It also forced the agency to issue a statement assuring the public that no healthy tortoises will be killed but saying that euthanasia is the only option for many of the animals because they are sick. Fish and Wildlife also assigned four people to field calls and put a message about the situation on its spokeswoman’s answering machine.
Deputy Fish and Wildlife Service director Carolyn Wells said Wednesday that the 50 percent estimate of sick tortoises at the facility may be correct, but added that not all of the ailing animals will be killed. Some of them could potentially go to research facilities, she said, though she could not say how many, and she does not yet have commitments from biologists.
Fish and Wildlife operates the center in conjunction with the San Diego Zoo.
Allyson Walsh, associate director for the zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research, said just 30 percent of the residents are receiving medical treatment, though some others have been quarantined and need new evaluations.
“The ones that don’t get better and that are sick and suffering will probably be euthanized because that’s the sensible thing to do,” she said.
She disputed the notion that budget cuts are forcing the reptiles to be put down. Although the center has housed sickly tortoises for years, Walsh said they eventually would have been euthanized anyway.
Walsh said sick tortoises cannot be adopted out and she has not been contacted by any researchers interested in taking in the sick animals.
“That’s a possibility but we wouldn’t transfer an animal to anyone who was doing destructive research,” she said.
The right thing to do for a sick animal is euthanize it, she said.
Seth Webster disagrees.
Webster, a 36 year old programmer from New York, created a Change.org petition that together with a similar one on the site has drawn more than 3,000 signatures. He said he is working with a Florida tortoise refuge that recently bought land in Nevada to see if Fish and Wildlife will transfer the tortoises, or at least let an outside evaluator decide which animals are so sick they should be killed.
“Animals have a very strong will to survive,” he said. “These tortoises live to 100 years. If we euthanize him, are we robbing him of 30 years? It doesn’t seem fair to euthanize them just because the tortoises are sick and someone ran out of money.”
Desert tortoises have made their rocky homes in Utah, California, Arizona and Nevada for 200 million years. But the prehistoric animal has some unfortunate evolutionary quirks, including a susceptibility to flu-like respiratory infections and difficulties settling in to new homes. They are also sensitive to change as the tortoises sometimes dehydrate themselves by voiding a year’s worth of stored water when handled.
These weaknesses have combined with widespread habitat destruction in the quickly developing Southwest to dramatically reduce the tortoises’ numbers.
The Bureau of Land Management has partially funded the conservation center through fees imposed on developers who disturb tortoise habitat, but when the housing bubble burst several years ago, that funding dropped far below what was needed to run the center.
“Here’s an upside to this. It’s gone international,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Jeannie Stafford said. “We have gotten hundreds of people saying they would like to adopt. Thousands of people signing petitions. It’s been people wanting to help us with the situation.”
But most of the would-be tortoise Good Samaritans cannot actually adopt the animals. Federal laws intended to protect the reptiles ban their transportation across state lines.
People who live in Nevada can adopt the slowpokes through the Desert Tortoise Group. But they should know that owners who kill or release their long-lived pets could face prison time.
The Humane Society of the United States is setting up a fund this week for out-of-staters who want to help but cannot take a tortoise home.
Despite the overwhelming response, the Bureau of Land Management is not reconsidering its plan to pull funding that goes toward the center’s $1 million annual budget.
“Although it’s wonderful that people want to give money, it won’t change the outcome for the Desert Conservation Center,” BLM spokeswoman Erica Haspiel-Szlosek said. “There just isn’t money to keep it going, nor is it really the best use of conservation funds.”
The agency plans to redirect the $810 fee that developers pay for each acre of tortoise habitat they disturb to environmental preservation efforts.
The center has historically taken in about 1,000 tortoises a year, but will stop accepting new residents in coming months.
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2) No urban legend: Conn. officer kills chicken-menacing lizard after reports of roaming reptile
Associated Press, August 26
LEDYARD, Conn. — The story of a large reptile roaming this rural town was no urban legend.
Police say a Ledyard officer shot a monitor lizard to death Sunday afternoon, after a resident called 911 to report what she believed to be an alligator attacking the chickens in her coop.
The officer was forced to shoot the reptile to protect fellow patrolmen, the town’s animal control officer and the chickens, police Lt. Michael T. Finkelstein said Monday.
“There really was no safe manner to stop it,” Finkelstein said.
Monitor lizards can be as big as some alligators, reaching lengths of 6 to 7 feet. They are not native to Connecticut and are illegal in the state.
Police believe the one killed Sunday had been an illegal pet that either escaped or was abandoned. Ledyard police warned people that monitor lizards can be dangerous and urged them not to have the large lizards as pets.
Police didn’t release the names of the resident who reported the lizard or the officer who shot it.
There had been several reported sightings of a large reptile or alligator in town in the past few months, Finkelstein said. A police officer took a picture of the creature during one of the initial sightings, but it got away, he said.
“We knew for a fact that something was out there,” Finkelstein said. “Just locating it was the issue.”
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3) Snapping turtles finding refuge in urban areas while habitats are being polluted
August 27th, 2013 Phys.org

In the Midwest, people have a fear of encountering snapping turtles while swimming in local ponds, lakes and rivers. Now in a new study, a University of Missouri researcher has found that snapping turtles are surviving in urban areas as their natural habitats are being polluted or developed for construction projects. One solution is for people to stop using so many chemicals that are eventually dumped into the waterways, the scientist said.
"Snapping turtles are animals that can live in almost any aquatic habitat as long as their basic needs for survival are met," said Bill Peterman, a post-doctoral researcher in the Division of Biological Sciences at MU. "Unfortunately, suitable aquatic habitats for turtles are being degraded by pollution or completely lost due to development. We found that snapping turtles can persist in urbanized areas, despite the potential for more interaction with humans."
Peterman said that reducing negative inputs, such as waste and harmful chemicals, into waterways will help restore snapping turtles' habitats. Engaging in this type of environmental action also will increase biodiversity in those habitats and improve the quality of life to all species that call those habitats home.
However, even though turtles are living in urban areas, Peterman says people have nothing to fear.
"Everyone has a snapping turtle story, but some are just too far-fetched and lead to false accusations," Peterman said. "In reality, snapping turtles aren't aggressive animals and won't bite unless they are provoked. So, if you should happen to see one around your property, simply leave it alone and let it go about its business."
The study took place in the Central Canal that flows through urban Indianapolis; researchers used tracking devices on large snapping turtles to monitor turtle movements. Peterman and his colleagues found that snapping turtles used all parts of the Central Canal, but were particularly dependent upon forested areas.
"While we didn't study whether the snapping turtle populations were increasing or decreasing, we regularly saw hatchling and juvenile snapping turtles," Peterman said. "Snapping turtles may not be the first animals that come to mind when thinking about urban wildlife, but if we continue to improve waterways in more places, such as big cities, than the species can coexist peacefully."
More information: The study, "Movement and Habitat Use of the Snapping Turtle in an Urban Landscape, was published in Urban Ecosystems.
Information Provided by University of Missouri-Columbia
__________________________________________________________________________
4) China's Demand For Turtles Has Endangered Turtles Species In Asia, The United States Is Next Unless Regulated
By Sophie Song, International Business Times 8/27/13

Taiwan has seized more than 2,500 protected turtles destined for Chinese banquet tables, the latest in the world’s attempts, legally or not, to satisfy China’s insatiable appetite. The reptiles have always been believed to hold a variety of medicinal and life-enhancing qualities, and a wealthier, more open China has created a global market for them.
The Taiwanese coast guard discovered 2,626 rare turtles, including 1,180 Asian yellow pond turtles and 1,446 yellow-lined box turtles, in a container aboard a ship that was to depart from Kaohsiung, a port in southern Taiwan, on Saturday, according to Agence France-Presse. A man was arrested, but the masterminds behind the smuggling have not been found.
“After consuming up their own turtles, now they [the Chinese] are turning their eyes to Southeast Asia and Taiwan,” said Lin Kuo-Chang, head of conservation affairs at Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture.
Years of overharvesting led to a sharp decline in wild turtle populations in China, driving up mainland prices to about five times of those in Taiwan. The two types of turtles are classified as “rare and valuable” in Taiwan’s three-category wildlife protection list, just one step away from “endangered,” according to AFP.
As early as 2007, Time magazine reported that China was importing large quantities of turtles from the United States, having already cleared out the supply from some Southeast Asian countries.
"We have seen the Chinese trade vacuum out one region after another — Burma, Vietnam, Borneo, Java, then Sumatra," says Peter Paul van Dijk, director of the tortoise and freshwater turtle biodiversity program at Virginia-based Conservation International.
The turtle trade in each of the countries followed a three- to five-year boom and bust cycle, according to van Dijk, and 75 percent of Asia’s 90 species of tortoise and freshwater turtles were threatened by 2007. Worldwide, 40 percent of turtle species are at immediate risk of extinction, according to Conservation International.
"Beginning with Vietnam in the early '90s, China's demand of turtles has caused the Asian Turtle Crisis," Ross Kiester, Ph.D., chief scientist for the Turtle Conservancy, a non-profit dedicated to the conservation of turtles based in New York, told the International Business Times. "And the problem is, as many species are considered common, no one is paying any attention to the turtles."
After years of unregulated turtle harvesting, regulators are now concerned that turtles may be the new buffalo, once ubiquitous but now rarely seen due to aggressive harvesting, Time reported.
In the U.S., some turtle-rich states are trying to put a stop to overcomsumption. Texas prohibited the collection of turtles in public waters and reservoirs in 2007. Florida passed a law in 2009 that effectively ended commercial wild-turtle harvests, and limited individuals to a “noncommercial use” of just one turtle a day for most of the state’s species, according to the National Geographic.
Around 31.8 million turtles, 97 percent farm-raised, were exported from the U.S. between 2002 and 2005, according to a study by the World Chelonian Trust, a foundation dedicated to the care and conservation of turtles. The number is a rough estimate, as even though customs officials at both ends monitor the shipments, accurate numbers and reliable records of which species are being exported are lacking, according to Time.
__________________________________________________________________________
5) Woodland Salamanders Indicators of Forest Ecosystem Recovery
Aug. 28, 2013 — Science Daily- Woodland salamanders are a viable indicator of forest ecosystem recovery, according to researchers from the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station.
PSW Research Wildlife Biologist Dr. Hartwell Welsh and Garth Hodgson examined two species of woodland salamanders across four stages of tree development at Mill Creek -- a disturbed old-5)growth redwood forest in northern California. They found that the numbers and body condition of two common species of salamander tracked closely with forest stand growth, development, and structural changes. Using salamander population numbers and physiological condition on adjacent, never harvested old-growth parkland to reference advancements along this developmental pathway, they demonstrated relationships between salamander counts and body condition and aspects of forest advancement including stand age, tree size, ambient moisture, canopy closure, and litter depth.
The case study established that when woodland salamanders are found in high abundance, it indicates a healthy forest, having undergone ecological advancement and ecosystem recovery.
There have been concerns about using indicator species as metrics of ecosystem conditions; however, amphibians are increasingly becoming accepted as researchers verify their applicability and usefulness. The woodland salamanders evaluated in Mill Creek were deemed credible due to their conservatism, trophic role, and high site fidelity, which tie them closely to conditions of place.
The findings of this case study are important because old-growth forests are quickly diminishing, but they provide crucial environmental services to society. According to the researchers, this type of forest is a unique carbon sink containing the most abundant land carbon stocks on the planet. Old-growth forests sequester carbon pollution and support the world's most diverse ecosystems.
Mill Creek is an old-growth forest located in Del Norte, Calif. in a geographically limited coastal redwood forest bioregion, which has seen extensive commercial logging for more than 100 years. It has recently been acquired by the state park system, and is intended to have its logged-over areas restored to primary forest. If restored, it can provide migration corridors for rare, absent, and native wildlife.
Report: http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/w ... sh_001.pdf
Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by USDA Forest Service - Pacific Southwest Research Station.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.
________________________________________________________________________
6) Copperheads commonly mistaken for other snakes

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Martinsville Bulletin staff writer, 8/16/13
Are copperheads on the rise, or is it a case of mistaken identity?
Some area residents are saying venomous copperhead snakes are being spotted more frequently this year than in the past. According to online sources, while bites rarely are fatal, they can be painful and result in tissue loss.

Dr. Joe Keiper, executive director of the Virginia Museum of Natural History (VMNH), said that although the conditions locally are right for snakes and other reptiles to thrive, he isn’t convinced that copperheads in particular are more prevalent this year.

“In this area and across eastern North America, we’ve had so much rain and humidity. The copperhead is not an aquatic organism. It might live near ponds and streams, but it’s really a terrestrial thing. That being said, when you have very humid nights, like you get a rain on a hot day and you get the asphalt steaming at night ... reptiles and amphibians love that. They like to go and warm out on the asphalt. ... Frogs, salamanders, snakes, lizards — they’re all moving at that time,” Keiper said.

Nature often works in cycles, he said. One year, a certain species might be scarce, and the next year, it will be abundant.

However, he said, when it comes to reports of specific kinds of snakes, Keiper wonders if people are certain what they are looking at.
“The average person, I think, is going to misidentify snakes quite often,” he said. “We’ve gotten calls about copperheads in the past and have gone out and looked for them.” Generally, however, the snakes in question are harmless species, not copperheads.

Keiper has been living in southwest Virginia for three and a half years, he said. In that time, “I’ve flipped a lot of logs and I’ve flipped a lot of stones. I find snakes ... (but) I’ve never found a copperhead. I have yet to see a copperhead in Virginia. I’ve yet to see a rattlesnake in Virginia. I’ve seen all kinds of other things — black rat snake, king snake, eastern hognose, garter snake, brown snake, ringneck snake and others — but nope, I’ve never seen (copperheads or rattlesnakes),” he said.

The problem, Keiper said, is that other harmless snakes that are more common in this area can look superficially similar to the copperhead, leading to misidentification.

“The copperhead is a very beautiful creature,” he said. “It has this kind of distinctive, kind of blocky golden brown pattern. But some of the other snakes, like the milk snake and the hognose snake, some variants can look a lot like a copperhead, but they’re not.”

Brian Williams, program manager for the Dan River Basin Association, agreed with Keiper.
“Copperheads are constantly being misidentified,” Williams said. “In my personal opinion, there are no more copperheads now than there ever have been. In fact, there’s probably fewer” due to the large number that have been killed by people over the years.

Williams said he is frequently asked to identify snakes, usually ones that have been killed because they were believed to be copperheads. Although Williams has seen copperheads in this area, nine times out of ten, he said, the snakes are harmless species.

The copperhead and the timber rattlesnake are the only two venomous snakes occurring in this region, Keiper said. The rest are harmless.

As for rattlesnakes, Keiper said, he has heard that a former VMNH employee had a small population living on her southern Virginia property. The population was confirmed by a former museum curator, the late Dr. Richard Hoffman.

Keiper referred to rattlesnakes as “locally abundant” in Virginia. They are populous in the small areas where they are found, but they aren’t commonly found outside of those small areas, he added.

“There just aren’t enough out there to worry about them, as far as I’m concerned,” Keiper said.
Keiper’s advice to anyone worried about snakes is simple — just leave them alone.
“The number one time that people get bitten is when they try to kill them,” he said. “It’s relatively rare that someone gets bitten by accident.”

Williams agreed. “If you just leave them alone, they won’t bother you,” he said.
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READ THIS BOOK BEFORE YOU BUY A TURTLE OR TORTOISE OR EVEN IF YOU ALREADY HAVE TEN TURTLES OR TORTOISES.

FIRST The book’s list price is $21.99, But you can have it for only $9.95 plus $6.00 for S&H.

THAT MEANS EVEN WITH S&H COSTS ITS CHEAPER THAN LIST PRICE. CHEAPER THAN YOU WILL FIND IT ANYWHERE. INCLUDING AMAZON.

AND don’t let the title fool you, “Turtles & Tortoises for Dummies” by Liz Palika, (author of over 20 pet care books) is full of information on over 100 different kinds of turtles and tortoises, and is a great cheap way to find out if a turtle or tortoise is the pet for you and/or your child.

“Turtles & Tortoises for Dummies” has over 280 pages of information on habitat (indoors or outdoors) and nutritional needs. (Such as should you feed a turtle or tortoise iceberg lettuce?) Turtles such as the red-eared slider (remember those little green turtles many of us had as kids- well is the advertised price of the turtle the real cost of the turtle when you add its home and food, Of course not. But by how much?) to the now commonly sold Sulcata tortoise. (Just how big do they grow?)

This book will tell you how to tell a healthy turtle from a sick one, answer the question if you should you get captive bred versus wild-caught, explain the various local to international laws concerning their ownership. And more. Much more.

S&H costs for overseas orders, contact us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org) (See the bottom of this newsletter on how to order.

This book will help you find out if buying one for your child, or you, is a smart move. (And contrary to what the seller of the turtle will tell you, zoos do not accept donations of unwanted pet turtles.)

This already heavily discounted book can save you hundreds of dollars.
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More Books on Sale

Frogs of the United States and Canada, 2-vol. set by C.Kenneth Dodd

LIST PRICE - $180.00 for entire set, no splitting of set, OUR PRICE - $150.00 2 books Combined, 1032 pages, 5.4 pounds, Add $13.00 S&H within the US.

Book Description

With many frog populations declining or disappearing and developmental malformations and disease afflicting others, scientists, conservationists, and concerned citizens need up-to-date, accurate information. Frogs of the United States and Canada is a comprehensive resource for those trying to protect amphibians as well as for researchers and wildlife managers who study biodiversity. From acrobatic tree frogs to terrestrial toads, C. Kenneth Dodd Jr. offers an unparalleled synthesis of the biology, behavior, and conservation of frogs in North America.

This two-volume, fully referenced resource provides color photographs and range maps for 106 native and nonindigenous species and includes detailed information on- past and present distribution- life history and demography - reproduction and diet- landscape ecology and evolution- - diseases, parasites, and threats from toxic substances- conservation and management

Editorial Reviews

A MUST have for those with an interest in the frogs of the region!

(Ian Paulsen The Guardian 2013-01-00)


The best frog book ever written.

(Whit Gibbons Aiken Standard 2013-01-00)

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Biology of Amphibians

by William E. Duellman and Linda Trueb, Paperback,

670 pages, The Johns Hopkins University Press

List Price $60.00 Our price $49.95.00 plus $13.00 S&H.

This is the widely acclaimed, preeminent reference and text on all aspects of amphibian biology, including their life history, ecology, morphology, and evolution. Copiously illustrated with original drawings and photographs and meticulously referenced with more than 2,500 bibliographic entries, it has proved indispensable to professional biologists and students alike. Now reissued in paperback with an updated preface by the authors, Biology of Amphibians remains the standard work in its field.

Reviews

Duellman and Trueb truly review the biology of amphibians, covering most conceivable topics from cytogenetics and development to biogeography and phylogeny... There is no recent textbook on amphibian biology that is worthy of comparison.

Science

An impressive review of current knowledge concerning all aspects of amphibian biology. The authors have organized a tremendous number of facts, observations, and theories around the complementary themes of structure and evolution... A major undertaking.

Bioscience

The text is clear and concise and richly illustrated... This book goes some way towards being all one could wish for and is likely to be an important source of reference.

Nature


The Authors

William E. Duellman and Linda Trueb are curators in the division of herpetology at the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas, Lawrence.

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Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico: Two Volume Hardcover set- by Carl H. & Evelyn M. Ernst

Volume I - Heloderma, Micruroides, Micrurus, Pelamis, Agkistrodon, Sistrurus-

Volume 2 - Crotalus

The Johns Hopkins University Press, Combined over 800 pages.

LIST PRICE-$150.00 for set $75.00 each book. OUR PRICE- $120.00 for set, $ 60.00 for each book.

Description

Volume One of this definitive work presents dramatically improved species accounts of the venomous lizards and elapid and viperid snakes found north of Mexico’s twenty-fifth parallel.

Volume Two covers the twenty-one rattlesnakes found in the United States, Canada, and, for the first time, species found only in northern Mexico.

Ernst and Ernst have painstakingly researched and verified the highly valuable and detailed information in this volume, including every detail of the lives of these fascinating and sometimes deadly animals. Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico provides facts on each animal’s diet, reproductive behavior, physiology, ecology, and conservation status. The book also covers details on snakebite, how venom is delivered, venom composition, antivenom production, and medical treatments of envenomation. Each species account includes vivid photographs that aid with identification and detailed maps that show the species range.

Mixing their own research with careful data description and intriguing stories, Ernst and Ernst present the most accurate and interesting view of North America’s rattlesnakes available. They provide general background information on Crotalus, including venom delivery systems, how rattles function, what rattlesnakes eat, and what eats rattlesnakes. Additionally, they offer specific and fascinating details, such as observations of rattlesnakes swimming to offshore islands, accounts of male combat bouts, possible "anting" behavior in Crotalus viridis, and the features of the Santa Catalina Island rattleless rattlesnake. Each species account includes vivid photographs, range maps, and explanations of the limits to their respective distribution.

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico represents the latest research on these animals and includes the most extensive bibliography of literature on the subject. Anyone with an interest in venom, snakes, or herpetology in general will find a wealth of information within the pages of these impressive volumes.


About the Authors

Carl H. Ernst, professor emeritus at George Mason University and a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, is coauthor of Turtles of the United States and Canada, also published by Johns Hopkins . Until her recent retirement, Evelyn M. Ernst taught high school chemistry and biology and was an administrator with the National Science Resources Center. Together they wrote Snakes of the United States and Canada.

Editorial Reviews

Likely to remain the standard reference for the next 20 years.

SciTech Book News

Ernst has provided a beautiful summary of the literature in this area. Anyone interested in the biology of these reptiles will find in this book a spectacular time-saver... He has done the field of herpetology a great service.

The Quarterly Review of Biology

This is an authoritative summary of the authors' personal research and more than 3,000 literature sources. An excellent resource for professionals in many fields for years to come and a detailed reference book for anyone wishing to know about venomous snakes.

This two-volume set is by far the most complete, thoroughly researched, and accurate work on North American venomous reptiles yet published... Essential.

Choice

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico will be the standard reference for herpetologists, and a source of fascination for enthusiasts.

Steven Winchell Reptilia

Carl and Evelyn Ernst have completely revised their landmark reference Venomous Reptiles of North America to present the most comprehensive review of these animals in years.

Midwest Book Review

A well written and detailed set of reference books... covering topics of great interest to both reptile enthusiast and the professional herpetologist alike.

Daniel P. Madigan, Indianapolis Zoo

These books have more information on these reptiles than I have ever seen in a book. Carl Ernst and Evelyn Ernst were great in compiling the information to make this book into an amazing and informational read. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Cybertron Reviews

These fascinating books cover all the venomous lizards and snakes... An essential purchase for academic and large public libraries, and a very worthwhile acquisition for herpetological library public or private.

Frederic F. Burchsted American Reference Books Annual

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Turtles of the United States and Canada (Hardcover)
by Carl H. Ernst and Jeffrey E. Lovich, Hardcover,

840 pages, The John Hopkins University Press, Second Edition, 7.3 lbs.

LIST PRICE $100.00 - OUR PRICE $79.95 Plus $13.00 for S&H

Ernst and Lovich’s thoroughly revised edition of this classic reference provides the most updated information ever assembled on the natural histories of North American turtles.

From diminutive mud turtles to giant alligator snappers, two of North America’s most prominent experts describe the turtles that live in the fresh, brackish, and marine waters north of Mexico. Incorporating the explosion of new scientific information published on turtles over the past fifteen years—including the identification of four new species—Ernst and Lovich supply comprehensive coverage of all fifty-eight species, with discussions of conservation status and recovery efforts.

Each species account contains information on identification, genetics, fossil record, distribution, geographic variation, habitat, behavior, reproduction, biology, growth and longevity, food habits, populations, predators, and conservation status. The book includes range maps for freshwater and terrestrial species, a glossary of scientific names, an extensive bibliography for further research, and an index to scientific and common names.

Logically organized and richly illustrated—with more than two hundred color photographs and fifty-two maps— Turtles of the United States and Canada remains the standard for libraries, museums, nature centers, field biologists, and professional and amateur herpetologists alike.


Editorial Reviews


A] monumental work... the standard reference to North American turtles for the next generation of biologists. Every serious vertebrate biologist on the continent will want a copy.

Herpetological Review

The most comprehensive compilation on North American turtles ever attempted and achieved.

Herpetofauna

In 1972, C. H. Ernst completed the daunting task of compiling a sequel to A. F. Carr's (1952) landmark Handbook of Turtles. Two decades later, Ernst, this time with assistance from former student and fellow cheloniophile J. E. Lovich, has done it again.

Copeia

For all turtle aficionados, this comprehensive review is the first of its kind published in the last twenty-five years.

Science News

If I did for some reason need to limit my turtle library to a single volume this book would be the one.

David S. Lee Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society

Ernst and Lovich have outdone themselves this time. The terms 'monumental' and of 'epic proportions' certainly come to mind... Truly amazing... This book is a real gem.

Chuck Schaffer Turtle and Tortoise Newsletter

The 645 pages of text, plus over 150 pages of references make it an almost limitless source of information on the chelonia of this part of the world. For such a well-presented and beautifully illustrated book, it represents excellent value for money for professional and amateur herpetologists alike.

Christine Tilley British Chelonia Group Newsletter

A comprehensive reference that summarizes the current knowledge about the 56 turtle species of the U.S. and Canada, of which 13 are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Book News

Anyone interested in turtles will want this book!

Birdbooker Report

Any college-level natural sciences library serious about turtles must have this substantially revised, updated second edition of the classic reference: Turtles of the United States and Canada. New species names supplements color photos charts, maps, and more in an extensive, detailed reference that is a 'must' for any definitive library.

Midwest Book Review

This work will be a standard reference on the shelves of libraries and other institutions with an interest in turtles.

Helen Ashton Reference Reviews

This second edition is an impressive accomplishment. Summarizing so much provides information is a daunting task and this book provides an amazing gateway into the vast body of scientific literature on North American turtles.

David Seburn Canadian Field-Naturalist

Turtles of the United States and Canada continues to be among the best taxa-specific ecological references ever compiled. It should be on the shelf of every library, serious turtle expert, herpetologist, vertebrate ecologist, or natural history buff.

Joshua M. Kapfer Natural Areas Journal 2010-01-00

A work of art.

(bio)accumulation

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Re: Herp- Digest Newsletter

Postby Philsuma » Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:10 pm

HerpDigest.org: The Only Free Weekly Electronic Newsletter That Reports on the Latest News on Herpetological Conservation, Husbandry and Science
Volume # 13 Issue # 40 9/7/13
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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HerpDigest is a non-profit organization that is totally dependent on your generosity for its continued existence. Please feel free to make a donation.

But First Think: How much is HerpDigest worth to you? As a reader? As someone who uses HerpDigest to get an announcement out of a meeting, call for abstracts, interns, volunteers.

How much was it worth to have HerpDigest around to get out the news about pending laws and regulations as with the NYS Snapping Turtle Bill, Snapperfest, the ongoing problem with the Desert Tortoises in Nevada, and more. $25. $50. $75. $100?????????

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It’s Here-”The Tortoise- Volume 1 Number 2 - It's 160 glossy pages long. Over 160 color photos. And I have still managed to keep the price down to $20.00 each $6.00 S&H in the U.S.

“The Tortoise Magazine, [is] ostensibly Us Weekly for people who follow reptiles instead of Brad Pitt and ‘The Bachelor’”
-The Wall Street Journal

Overseas please email us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org for exact shipping costs.

And for a very limited time Issue # 1 is available for it’s original price of $20.00 (though it will be a collector’s item and worth more). But only if you also buy issue #2. Shipping just add $2.00 for a total of $48.00
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The 2014 calendars are here, Turtles, Frogs, Snakes, Sea Turtles same price as last year, $14.99 each, plus $6.00 S&H $2.00 for every additional calendar.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:

1) You’re invited to help us restore emphemeral wetlands for rare species of wildlife on October 10-11, 2013 in Mt. Orab, Ohio!

2) Two cases of pseudohermaphroditism in loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta
3) Jamaican Iguana fighting for survival
4) Rattlesnakes Evolving, Losing Their Rattles, Expert Says
5) Goodness snakes: Timber Rattler found in odd spot
6) Paroedura Lohatsara: Gecko Hovering On The Brink of Extinction
7) Sea turtles nesting up in Ga. for 4th straight year
8) Scientists try to determine why sea turtles are not nesting in Nicaragua
9) Vermont’s Guardian of the Herps-Jim Andrews
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Books on sale (see below for information on the books below)

Frogs of the US & Canada 2 volume Hardcover set,

Biology of Amphibians,

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico: Two Volume Hardcover set,

Turtles of U.S. & Canada
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1) You’re invited to help us restore emphemeral wetlands for rare species of wildlife on October 10-11, 2013 in Mt. Orab, Ohio!
This hands-on Wetland Restoration Workshop will involve you in the design, monitoring of construction, and planting of naturally appearing and functioning wetlands to provide habitat for eastern spadefoots, wood frogs, fairy shrimp, and the Indiana bat! As a bonus, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the many emergent wetlands restored on the Alleyn Unversaw and Frank Cracchiolo farm.

Registration is only $39 (before Oct. 7, or $49 after Oct. 7) and includes two lunches, handouts and a copy of the book Wetland Restoration and Construction – A Technical Guide. For more information on the workshop, an agenda and the registration form, please click here, or go through the link above.

Host by: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Partners Program, ARC (Amphibian & Reptile Conservancy), Association of State Wetland Managers, Sheltowee Environmental Education Coalition, Center for Wetlands and Stream Restoration.

For inquiries, please contact:
Tom Biebighauser
606-356-4569
tombiebighauser@gmail.com
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2) Two cases of pseudohermaphroditism in loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta

Jose Luis Crespo, Daniel García-Párraga, Ignacio Giménez, Consuelo Rubio-Guerri, Mar Melero, José Manuel Sánchez-Vizcaíno, Adolfo Marco, Jose A. Cuesta, María Jesús Muñoz

ABSTRACT: Two juvenile (curved carapace lengths: 28 and 30 cm) loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta with precocious male external characteristics were admitted to the ARCA del Mar rescue area at the Oceanogràfic Aquarium in Valencia, Spain, in 2009 and 2010. Routine internal laparoscopic examination and subsequent histopathology confirmed the presence of apparently healthy internal female gonads in both animals. Extensive tissue biopsy and hormone induction assays were consistent with female sex. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of pseudohermaphroditism in loggerhead sea turtles based on sexual external characteristics and internal laparoscopic examination. Our findings suggest that the practice of using external phenotypical characteristics as the basis for gender identification in sea turtles should be reevaluated. Future research should focus on detecting more animals with sexual defects and their possible effects on the sea turtle population.


How to contact lead author----Jose Luis Crespo Picazo/Veterinarian/Oceanogràfic – Rescue area/Stranding network/Valencia, Spain/jlcrespo@oceanografic.org
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3) Jamaican Iguana fighting for survival
BY KIMONE THOMPSON Associate editor — features thompsonk@jamaicaobserver.com , Wednesday, September 04, 2013
IN two months, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)-Iguana Specialist Group (ISG) will mark the 20th anniversary of the Jamaica Iguana Recovery Plan, touted by scientists to be among the most recognised conservation success stories in the world. But given the recent current of Government rhetoric on the possibility of siting a port on Goat Islands, there might not be much to celebrate.
Goat Islands are two cays off the St Catherine coast which are among some 15 or so counted in the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA). They were to be the crowning of the recovery effort — a predator-free iguana sanctuary. Under the recovery effort, researchers removed hatchlings of the endangered Jamaican iguana, believed extinct since the 1940s, reared them in captivity, then repatriated the adults to the Hellshire Hills, also part of the Portland Bight.
Close to 200 of the reptiles have been returned over the years, with conservationists here and abroad singing the praises of the initiative which has been supported financially and in technical terms by the International Iguana Foundation, Jamaica's Hope Zoo, in partnership with the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas, San Diego Zoo Global, and a string of others in the US.
"The effort has provided hope and inspiration that a species once considered extinct cannot only be saved but put on the road to recovery," vice-president of Conservation and Research at John G Shedd Aquarium in the US, Dr Charles Knapp told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
Not only would port development erode those gains, he argued, it would also send a "clear but unfortunate message" to the global conservation and donor communities.
"Unfortunately, the message would be that an investment in Jamaica is unwise, that protected area designations do not matter, and that commercial interests supersede national heritage. We do not advocate against economic development. We only urge the Government to consider alternative sites to ensure the protection of a truly unique area, which is already recognised and technically protected," he said.
"If the port project is approved," he added, "the recovery of the Jamaican Iguana will be in severe jeopardy."
The issue is dear to Dr Knapp not only for scientific reasons. He told the Observer that his decision to pursue graduate degrees and the study of iguanas was a direct result of his participation in the inaugural meeting of the IUCN in 1993 and the rediscovery of the Jamaican Iguana.
"This issue resonates personally with me," he said in the e-mail exchange.
Knapp and five of his colleagues penned their concerns in a letter to the newspaper. Though members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, they did not speak on behalf of the organisation as they did not request permission to do so ahead of time.
Those who co-signed the letter were Dr Allison Alberts, chief conservation and research officer at San Diego Zoo Global and president of the International Iguana Foundation (IIF); Dr Stesha Pasachnik, postdoctoral research associate at San Diego Zoo Global; Tandora Grant senior research coordinator at San Diego Zoo Global; Dr Glenn Gerber, scientist at San Diego Zoo Global and Mike Fouraker, executive director of Fort Worth Zoo, president of Caribbean Wildlife Alliance and treasurer of the IIF.
They will be part of the group at the annual working meeting in Kingston from November 11-16, 2013, which will be co-hosted by the University of the West Indies, whose Dr Byron Wilson heads the Jamaican Iguana Recovery Group. The meeting will follow a two-day workshop to be hosted by Hope Zoo and NEPA.
The swirling controversy involving Goat Islands and the PBPA arose in recent weeks when the Government of Jamaica indicated during a meeting in Beijing with Chinese investors, that the cays were being considered for the location of a trans-shipment port. Local environmentalists have stoutly opposed such a move, arguing that it is in contravention of the protected area order issued for PBPA in 1999. Civil society groups have argued, too, that Government's utterances flew in the face of the social partnership agreement signed on July 31, as no dialogue or consultation on the subject has taken place.
In defence of its position, different Members of Parliament, including Robert Pickersgill and Omar Davies have maintained that the port, which is expected to take advantage of the widening of the Panama Canal, will create jobs for the Jamaican workforce, and will therefore dent the unemployment rate currently at 16 per cent.
But it can't be jobs at any cost, according to the conservationists.
"While we recognise the right and the need for Jamaicans to increase employment opportunities, we are concerned about the impact on this environmentally sensitive area. The PBPA is considered globally important because of the unique habitats and species that are represented within its boundaries. As such, the international conservation and donor communities have collectively invested millions of dollars to assist with local efforts to help save the Jamaican Iguana and the Hellshire Hills, both found only within the PBPA," the letter said.
It continued: "Aside from missing a fabulous opportunity to save several of Jamaica's iconic endemic species, and capitalise on a potentially lucrative and sustainable eco-tourism venture, the port development would almost certainly destroy the surrounding marine environment, including recently declared fish sanctuaries."
The possibility of the port aside, the Hellshire Hills, one of the last intact dry forest habitats in the world, is under threat because of charcoal burning. That was one of the challenges to which Dr Wilson referred in 2012 when he reported to the IUCN that: "We are fighting a tough battle here in Jamaica, but one we do not intend to lose. Last year (2011) we recorded a record number of nesting iguanas - three times as many as when the project started in 1991, and over half of those were repatriated headstarters. However, we must keep up the fight, because otherwise the iguana will drift into extinction."
For Fouraker, who has visited the Hellshire Hills with the UWI research team in support of the project up to three times a year over the last 20, the Jamaican Iguana represents one of the most compelling animal stories of modern times.

"In addition to Fort Worth staff providing consultation on field biology work, veterinary services for animals that are to be returned to the wild," he said, "my primary role is finding monetary support for the Jamaican projects (which the UWI scientists run). Besides iguana, these projects include, American crocodiles, sea turtles, botany, frogs, and a variety of other animals".
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4) Rattlesnakes Evolving, Losing Their Rattles, Expert Says

KNXV (Phoenix, Arizona) 9/6/13 by Corey Rangel-Phoenix: If you’re headed outside, some experts warn you should watch out for a new type of rattlesnake – silent ones.

It can be one of the most alarming sounds you hear if you come across it. It’s the warning from a rattlesnake, ready to bite with its toxic venom.

But some experts say the rattles are going silent.

“Less and less rattlesnakes are rattling,” explained Steve Reaves who is the owner of a rattlesnake removal service licensed through the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Reaves feels these snakes have now started to evolve to the point they’re losing their rattle in order to survive.

“The theory is we’ve created a snake through killing the ones that do rattle, we’ve created a rattlesnake that doesn’t tend to rattle so much,” he says.

Reaves says these silent snakes could be a big danger.

While there’s disagreement about whether this is actually a trend or not, Reaves says in some parts of the country some rattlesnakes have completely lost their rattles.

And that leaves some to wonder if the only thing worse than hearing a nearby rattlesnake is not hearing it at all.
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5) Goodness snakes: Rattler found in odd spot

JOURNAL-COURIER (Jacksonville, Illinois) 9/6/13 by Dan Brannan

The discovery of a timber rattlesnake on the edge of Carrollton is raising several questions, key among them why the snake was so far east of where experts would expect.

The rattlesnake was found dead along the road in August.

The timber rattlesnake overall is on the decline in Illinois, and Chris Phillips of the Illinois Natural History Survey Prairie Research Institute of the University of Illinois-Champaign said it was a “little bit shocking” that a timber rattlesnake was found that close to Carrollton.

Phillips was given a digital image of the snake.

“That is a timber rattler — and a big one,” he said after viewing the photo. “From the picture, it looks like someone got the rattle. Someone came along and cut it off. It was 4 feet long easily.”
The odd thing about finding the rattlesnake so close to Carrollton is that, most of the time, big rattlesnakes are closer to the Illinois or Mississippi rivers, Phillips said.

“I also have a number of friends and colleagues that live on the River Road past Elsah and near Chautauqua,” he said. “Two of our guys live and work down there and both live up that hollow, and they sent eight pictures of timber rattlesnakes over the last two years. On the bluffs, you kind of expect that, but as you get away from the river and go east in Illinois, the numbers really decline.”

Phillips said the Mississippi River bluffs provide a lot of cover for snakes, and they find places to use as dens over the winter. The snake expert said adult timber rattlesnakes only go a maximum distance of 2.5 miles from their den over the course of a year, then make their way slowly back to the den to get in before the first frost or a little before that.

The timber rattlesnake found outside Carrollton could have been 2 miles away from its den when it was found run over on the road, he said.

“We are seeing less timber rattlesnakes now through the state,” he said. “This doesn’t surprise me that a timber rattlesnake was found near Carrollton, but it is not something you expect. Recently, I have photographs of one from Otterville; Carrollton is a little farther from the river. Records also show timber rattlesnakes from Macoupin County, which is way away from the river.”

Phillips has studied snakes for 25 years and has collected considerable information about rattlesnakes across the state.

“There has been an occasional sighting near Pere Marquette” State Park outside Grafton, he said. “We have located two den locations in the park, and we share that with the land managers, and they don’t move a trail by it.

“The timber rattlesnake is a threatened species in the state. In 1990, a timber rattlesnake skin was shown from about 8 kilometers from Hillview (in Greene County).”

Venomous snakes are not normally aggressive and tend to bite people only when stepped on, picked up or cornered. Even freshly killed snakes can bite. Timber rattlesnakes can be found in the southern quarter of the state south of Interstate 64, in the lower Illinois River Valley, in the Mississippi River Valley and in a few other locations. The snakes prefer heavy timber with outcrops and bluffs. Although not typically deadly, a snake bite can cause swelling, nausea and the risk of infection. Anyone bitten by a snake should go to a hospital for treatment immediately.

Phillips said it may be a good time to look for dens after the sighting near Carrollton.

“You still expect to find a timber rattlesnake in Batchtown or somewhere in Calhoun County, but not up on the level plain of Carrollton, where it is about 80 percent agriculture,” he said.

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6) Paroedura Lohatsara: Gecko Hovering On The Brink of Extinction
By Kasi Krauss
It’s hard to share the limelight with Leopard Geckos and Cresteds when you’re small, skittish, and prefer not to be seen. Perhaps that’s one reason why this species is disappearing.
A small-to-medium sized gecko native to Madagascar, Paroedura Lohatsara numbers are dwindling rapidly. They are found only in Montagne des Francais, an area of primarily deciduous forest threatened by human encroachment, logging, and the demand for charcoal production. Endemic to this region, their chances of survival vanish along with the landscape. These animals are currently listed as critically endangered on the IUCN’s Red List – only one step away from being extinct in the wild – but they are not yet protected under CITES.
Related to the far more common Pictus Geckos, P. lohatsara are characterized as hatchlings by their distinctively brownish heads, thick black and white horizontal barring down the body, and a bright orange tail. As they mature, they grow into their adult coloration: the neon of the tail, brown of the head, and bands across the body disappear, leaving a generally lighter colored animal with black spotting. This spotting tends to shift toward more lengthwise patterning rather than the crosswise appearance of its youth. The adults of this species reach an average of 2.5” to 3” from snout to vent, with an overall length of approximately 5” to 6”. Both males and females display similar adult sizes; the gender is most easily recognized by observing the presence of hemipenal bulges in the males, which become visibly apparent between three to six months of age. Sexual maturity is achieved at approximately one year of age.
P. lohatsara are a nocturnal species, active at night, and are considered to be primarily terrestrial. In the wild, they have been observed from ground level to two meters up, climbing on branches and boulders. Ridged toe pads allow them additional grip while climbing – youngsters can be regularly seen walking right up the sides of a glass enclosure. As the animal matures, however, this advantage disappears to some extent with the weight of the animal exceeding the capacity of full adhesive support. In captivity, it is around this time that the animals develop a preference toward foliage, cork rounds, and other available areas for climbing.
This species is virtually unknown in the herpetology world, due in large part to the incredibly limited population. The current estimate (based on what information is available) is that there are only around twenty of these animals in the United States; they are slightly more available in the EU, but are still very unusual to come across. Madagascar export laws prohibit the exportation of pets and/or animal products without specific permission being obtained; in an effort to begin conservation in the United States, Kasi Krauss has obtained two distinct lines from breeders within the US. The first acquisitions came from Tom Wood, the second from Derek Dunlop – these lines have allowed projects to be set up and run to continue proliferation of the species and developing more concrete practices for care and husbandry of these unique creatures.
If you are interested in involving yourself with the conservation effort or have any questions regarding the matter, please contact Kasi Krauss by sending an email to kkfaulkins@gmail.com. Conservation begins with awareness; keep your eyes open, spread the word, and help this species make a comeback that’s impossible to miss.

Information acquired from:
Raxworthy, C.J., Ratsoavina, F., Rabibisoa, N., Rakotondrazafy, N.A. & Bora, P. 2011. Paroedura lohatsara. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 13 July 2013.
http://www.africanconservation.org/feat ... dagascar-4
http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/172898/0

http://www.cites.org/eng/resources/species.html
http://madagascar.visahq.com/customs/
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7) Sea turtles nesting up in Ga. for 4th straight year
by Russ Bynum, Associated Press, 9/7/13

Unofficial tallies show loggerhead sea turtles, a threatened species, dug 2,284 nests on Georgia beaches, up from 2,241 last year.

SAVANNAH — Loggerhead sea turtles nested on Georgia beaches at a record-setting pace in 2013, marking a fourth straight year conservationists have reported a nesting increase along the state’s 100-mile coast.

Unofficial tallies for the loggerhead nesting season, which runs from May through August in Georgia, show the threatened species dug at least 2,284 nests to lay their eggs. That’s up from 2,241 nests counted last year.

More importantly, the numbers show loggerhead nesting in the state has continued to increase every year since 2010, bucking a two-decade trend of up-and-down fluctuations.

In 2012, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources declared for the first time that the state’s loggerhead population seemed to be recovering after 24 years of conservation efforts.

Seeing nest numbers increase to another record level in 2013 adds more evidence the turtles are rebounding, said Mark Dodd, the DNR biologist who heads Georgia’s sea turtle recovery program.

“Another big year in a row like this just gives us more confidence we’re in a recovery period,” Dodd said.

“The last four years have seen increases each year in nesting, which is something we have not seen before.”

Loggerhead sea turtles, which weigh up to 300 pounds, remain a fragile population that’s been protected as a threatened species under federal law for 35 years. The turtles dig their nests on beaches from the Carolinas to Florida. Georgia’s relatively small stretch of coastline means it has one of the region’s smallest sea turtle nesting populations.

Still, the nesting counts for Georgia in recent years have been astounding considering its beaches averaged just 1,036 nests annually from 1989 to 2009, a period when up-and-down nest counts indicated recovery was flat. In 2010 loggerhead nests in Georgia hit a record of 1,760. Then they jumped to 1,992 in 2011. And for the past two years the total has been more than double the state’s 20-year average.

If the trend continues, Dodd said it’s possible Georgia might reach 2,800 nests — its recovery goal for the state loggerhead population.

“If you had asked me 10 years ago what are the chances we’re going to get to that goal in the next four to five years, I’d have said no chance,” Dodd said. “Now it’s something we could definitely achieve.”

Official 2013 nesting numbers for Georgia won’t be ready until mid-October. Dodd said he’s awaiting genetic test results from 10 or more nests to determine which species of sea turtle dug them, but most will likely be loggerheads.

Sea turtle researchers say two conservation efforts that began on a limited basis in the 1970s are likely responsible for any rebound in loggerhead populations. Turtle nests discovered by government experts and volunteers on state beaches get covered with a mesh that protects the eggs inside from hogs, raccoons and other predators. Also, shrimp boats trawling in U.S. waters have been required since 1987 to use fishing nets equipped with special trapdoors that allow sea turtles to escape.

In Georgia nest counts are up even on beaches that attracts the most people. Volunteers on Tybee Island, the state’s largest and most densely populated public beach, have been working with the island’s small city government since 2009 to reduce artificial lighting at night from streetlamps and businesses, beachfront homes and hotels. Too much light can scare away turtles coming ashore to lay eggs, and can disorient hatchlings trying to find their way to the ocean.

Loggerhead nests counted on Tybee Island in 2012 jumped to 23, more than double the number seen the previous two years. The unofficial tally for this year is 21.

“We thought last year was just an anomaly, so we were really surprised when it ended up repeating itself,” said Maria Procopio, director of the Tybee Island Marine Science Center, which coordinates a group of more than 60 volunteers who walk the beach each morning during the summer for new turtle nests. “We keep a board at the front of our building with updates for the public. Everybody loves turtles.”
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8) Scientists try to determine why sea turtles are not nesting in Nicaragua
Managua, Sep 9 (EFE).- Sea turtles arrive in large numbers every year in August on Nicaragua's Pacific coast to nest, but only a few of the marine creatures have made the journey this season, creating a mystery that scientists are trying to solve.
The government blames climate change for the scarce numbers of sea turtles in 2013, but scientists consulted by Efe have their own theories.
A climate change expert said global warming may not be directly responsible for the lack of sea turtles, while an ecologist pointed to environmental quality as the culprit and a wildlife specialist said the turtles' reproductive cycle may have taken a pause.
About 250,000 sea turtles can appear on Nicaragua's beaches during the October-December season, while an unknown number journey ashore individually, the Flora y Fauna environmental group said.
Up to 5,000 turtles used to swim ashore on some beaches, such as La Flor and Chacocente, on one night, but the arrivals are now being spaced out over a 10-day period, ecologist Kamilo Lara told Efe.
Scientists say more than climate change may be affecting the sea turtles.
"It would be too risky to say there is a direct relationship between climate change and the arrival of the turtles, we know the Pacific Ocean is a place of great energy," climate change expert Jose Antonio Milan said.
Climate change may not be directly responsible for the absence of turtles because the El Niño weather phenomenon, for example, is not affected by it and did not occur this year, Milan said.
If the water temperature has an effect, the only explanation is that it is a phenomenon "about which we do not know anything in Nicaragua," the scientist said.
Lara, for his part, said the absence of sea turtles is likely linked to pollution in the ocean.
Sea turtles may be sick, consuming toxic substances or being slaughtered by fishermen offshore, Lara said.
Former Nicaraguan protected areas director and environmental consultant Milton Camacho has another theory.
"I consider it something normal, a priori, because the turtles have reproductive cycles, like hens," Camacho told Efe.
Sea turtles normally lay between 100 and 120 eggs per night.
Only one in 1,000 hatchlings reach maturity, the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry said.
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9) Vermont’s Guardian of the Herps-Jim Andrews

STOWE REPORTER (Vermont) 9/5/13-----Jim Andrews’ boots went splodge, splodge as he trudged along a water-logged ditch in the mostly pathless Blueberry Hill Wildlife Management Area in the town of Ira on a hot July morning.

His gaze flicked from side to side, alert for the slightest movement. He was already wet to the knees from a thus far unsuccessful brook-side hunt for the skittish spring salamander, a slimy amphibian colored the ugly pink of calves’ liver.

“What are we finding?” Andrews called to Cindy Sprague, a volunteer assistant from Huntington.

“Nothing … slugs,” she called back.

When you are Vermont’s only full-time herpetologist, this is how you spend your days: in places most people don’t want to visit, in search of creatures most people don’t want to see.

At a slight movement in the grassy ditch, Andrews’ hands flew into the underbrush and came up with a small garter snake. It slithered in a coil around his wrist as Sprague, state lands forester John Lones and intern Megan Kane of Fletcher clustered around to look at the familiar yellow-and-brown striped creature.

“How many wild vertebrates can you catch in your hands?” Andrews asks. “You can handle them, you can identify them — they are a great vehicle to introduce people to the natural world.”

Andrews had come to Ira, southwest of Rutland, as part of his dogged effort to document — town by town — the range of the state’s reptile and amphibian species: 11 snakes, 11 frogs, 10 salamanders, seven turtles and one lizard, the five-lined skink.

The result has been Andrews’ constantly evolving Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas, an authoritative document on where those 40 species have been found in Vermont.

Through his own field studies, and with reports from a network of dozens of amateur herpetologists, Andrews and his atlas can identify the single town (Vernon) where the Eastern hog-nosed snake has been documented, and the only Vermont town where the presence of wood frogs has not yet been reported (Newport). He knows where the freckled Jefferson salamander is concentrated (in the Champlain and Connecticut River valleys) and where the greatest diversity of snakes can be found (western Rutland County).

His atlas has become a resource not just for scientists and teachers, but for conservation groups and town planning commissions.

“The atlas matters a huge amount,” says Steve Faccio, a conservation biologist at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies in Norwich. “If you don’t know where something is, you can’t conserve it.”

Andrews has become a kind of amphibian evangelist, leading groups of students, amateur naturalists and state highway workers into the field to catch, hold and examine rat snakes, wood turtles, salamanders and frogs.

He’s found converts by the dozens, including the highway workers who attend his periodic classes and use what they learn to keep snakes and salamanders in mind as they design and maintain culverts and roadways.

“Jim is the best teacher ever,” said Sprague, one of those converts, as she and Andrews set out for Ira. “He’s just so into herps. Once you are out there with him, they are a little addicting. It’s amazing how I’ve gotten so comfortable around snakes.”

Andrews, 59, is a big, shambling man. He looks as if he might bulldoze his way through the woods, but in fact moves with the ease and alertness of a hunter. A Middlebury native, he describes himself as a “rural woodchuck” who searched for snakes with his mother and grandmother when he was a child.

He came late to the formal study of herpetology, earning a master’s degree at Middlebury College after 11 years teaching junior high school science.

“Herps,” as he calls them, became his passion, along with advocating for conservation of the vernal pools, wetlands and rocky hillsides where snakes, turtles and salamanders thrive.

His swing through Rutland County one July day was typical of his work: an ultimately successful two-hour hunt for the spring salamander, a vain search for the Eastern ribbon snake around a pond in Poultney, an equally unsuccessful search for snakes in a 100-foot stone wall near the pond, and a visit with the pond’s owners to encourage them to contribute reports to the atlas.

Throughout, Andrews preached the gospel of herps: Snakes are not to be feared. Amphibians are under-appreciated. The habitat of both sorts of creatures is worth conserving as part of a healthy ecosystem.

Turning over brook-side rocks where salamanders hide or rummaging in a stone wall, Andrews was a fount of offhand herp knowledge: Painted turtles are freeze-tolerant. Rat snakes are arboreal and love old barns and woodsheds. Wood frogs are particularly susceptible to predation, and “Fowler’s toad has an unpleasant call, like somebody strangling a sheep.”

“That is a fantastic find!” he exclaimed when Sprague snagged an 8-inch-long spring salamander, the first to be documented in Ira for Andrews’ atlas. The lungless amphibian (which absorbs oxygen through its skin) wriggled in the biologist’s hands as Kane measured it for the atlas’ database.

The salamander isn’t rare, endangered or even uncommon. Nor is it attractive by human standards, having the wet, naked look of a fetus. In fact, the salamander could be a poster child for the difficulty of winning protection for reptiles and amphibians. They lack the charisma of mammals, the beauty of birds or the economic usefulness of fish.

“There’s a need for people to speak up for the interests of reptiles and amphibians,” Andrews said over a packed-in lunch of bacon, cucumber and cheese slices. “I have to look out for them.”

By 5 p.m., Andrews’ shirt was as wet with sweat as if he had gone swimming. A bloody scratch oozed on his forehead. The air was filled with buzzing flies in the sauna-like heat. Stinging nettles fringed a stack of rotting lumber behind an old barn in Benson. But Andrews smiled happily as he and Megan unstacked the boards, uncovering what appeared to be a garter snake condominium.

They snatched each snake (“Grab first, think later,” Andrews says) to record its sex and length. He pulled his thumb firmly down the belly of one fat specimen: “eight, nine, 10, 11 babies in there,” he concluded. (Garter snakes give birth to live young).

As they neared the bottom of the pile, there was a flash of yellow — a long eastern ribbon snake, its three yellow stripes as gaudy as a carnival costume.


“People’s perception of snakes is so wrong. They aren’t slimy and cold,” Andrews said. The ribbon snake was smooth and warm in the hand, its muscles rippling like a strip of leather come to life.

Andrews let the snake slither from his hands. Its tail flicking, the slim reptile slid smoothly between two of the stacked boards. “Snakes might not have personality or intellect, but they are fascinating nonetheless,” he said.

Defined area, it is easier to understand they are dependent on us,” he said. “My end goal is conservation and perpetuation of the species and their habitat… I would like to see individuals in every town who were interested in knowing what is in their town, and then in its conservation.”

For more information, or to report sightings of snakes, frogs, salamanders and turtles in your town, go to community.middlebury.edu/~herpatlas.

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Books on Sale

Frogs of the United States and Canada, 2-vol. set by C.Kenneth Dodd

LIST PRICE - $180.00 for entire set, no splitting of set, OUR PRICE - $150.00 2 books Combined, 1032 pages, 5.4 pounds, Add $13.00 S&H within the US.

Book Description

With many frog populations declining or disappearing and developmental malformations and disease afflicting others, scientists, conservationists, and concerned citizens need up-to-date, accurate information. Frogs of the United States and Canada is a comprehensive resource for those trying to protect amphibians as well as for researchers and wildlife managers who study biodiversity. From acrobatic tree frogs to terrestrial toads, C. Kenneth Dodd Jr. offers an unparalleled synthesis of the biology, behavior, and conservation of frogs in North America.

This two-volume, fully referenced resource provides color photographs and range maps for 106 native and nonindigenous species and includes detailed information on- past and present distribution- life history and demography - reproduction and diet- landscape ecology and evolution- - diseases, parasites, and threats from toxic substances- conservation and management

Editorial Reviews

A MUST have for those with an interest in the frogs of the region!

(Ian Paulsen The Guardian 2013-01-00)


The best frog book ever written.

(Whit Gibbons Aiken Standard 2013-01-00)

________________________________________________________
Biology of Amphibians

by William E. Duellman and Linda Trueb, Paperback,

670 pages, The Johns Hopkins University Press

List Price $60.00 Our price $49.95.00 plus $13.00 S&H.

This is the widely acclaimed, preeminent reference and text on all aspects of amphibian biology, including their life history, ecology, morphology, and evolution. Copiously illustrated with original drawings and photographs and meticulously referenced with more than 2,500 bibliographic entries, it has proved indispensable to professional biologists and students alike. Now reissued in paperback with an updated preface by the authors, Biology of Amphibians remains the standard work in its field.

Reviews

Duellman and Trueb truly review the biology of amphibians, covering most conceivable topics from cytogenetics and development to biogeography and phylogeny... There is no recent textbook on amphibian biology that is worthy of comparison.

Science

An impressive review of current knowledge concerning all aspects of amphibian biology. The authors have organized a tremendous number of facts, observations, and theories around the complementary themes of structure and evolution... A major undertaking.

Bioscience

The text is clear and concise and richly illustrated... This book goes some way towards being all one could wish for and is likely to be an important source of reference.

Nature


The Authors

William E. Duellman and Linda Trueb are curators in the division of herpetology at the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas, Lawrence.

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Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico: Two Volume Hardcover set- by Carl H. & Evelyn M. Ernst

Volume I - Heloderma, Micruroides, Micrurus, Pelamis, Agkistrodon, Sistrurus-

Volume 2 - Crotalus

The Johns Hopkins University Press, Combined over 800 pages.

LIST PRICE-$150.00 for set $75.00 each book. OUR PRICE- $120.00 for set, $ 60.00 for each book.

Description

Volume One of this definitive work presents dramatically improved species accounts of the venomous lizards and elapid and viperid snakes found north of Mexico’s twenty-fifth parallel.

Volume Two covers the twenty-one rattlesnakes found in the United States, Canada, and, for the first time, species found only in northern Mexico.

Ernst and Ernst have painstakingly researched and verified the highly valuable and detailed information in this volume, including every detail of the lives of these fascinating and sometimes deadly animals. Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico provides facts on each animal’s diet, reproductive behavior, physiology, ecology, and conservation status. The book also covers details on snakebite, how venom is delivered, venom composition, antivenom production, and medical treatments of envenomation. Each species account includes vivid photographs that aid with identification and detailed maps that show the species range.

Mixing their own research with careful data description and intriguing stories, Ernst and Ernst present the most accurate and interesting view of North America’s rattlesnakes available. They provide general background information on Crotalus, including venom delivery systems, how rattles function, what rattlesnakes eat, and what eats rattlesnakes. Additionally, they offer specific and fascinating details, such as observations of rattlesnakes swimming to offshore islands, accounts of male combat bouts, possible "anting" behavior in Crotalus viridis, and the features of the Santa Catalina Island rattleless rattlesnake. Each species account includes vivid photographs, range maps, and explanations of the limits to their respective distribution.

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico represents the latest research on these animals and includes the most extensive bibliography of literature on the subject. Anyone with an interest in venom, snakes, or herpetology in general will find a wealth of information within the pages of these impressive volumes.


About the Authors

Carl H. Ernst, professor emeritus at George Mason University and a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, is coauthor of Turtles of the United States and Canada, also published by Johns Hopkins . Until her recent retirement, Evelyn M. Ernst taught high school chemistry and biology and was an administrator with the National Science Resources Center. Together they wrote Snakes of the United States and Canada.

Editorial Reviews

Likely to remain the standard reference for the next 20 years.

SciTech Book News

Ernst has provided a beautiful summary of the literature in this area. Anyone interested in the biology of these reptiles will find in this book a spectacular time-saver... He has done the field of herpetology a great service.

The Quarterly Review of Biology

This is an authoritative summary of the authors' personal research and more than 3,000 literature sources. An excellent resource for professionals in many fields for years to come and a detailed reference book for anyone wishing to know about venomous snakes.

This two-volume set is by far the most complete, thoroughly researched, and accurate work on North American venomous reptiles yet published... Essential.

Choice

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico will be the standard reference for herpetologists, and a source of fascination for enthusiasts.

Steven Winchell Reptilia

Carl and Evelyn Ernst have completely revised their landmark reference Venomous Reptiles of North America to present the most comprehensive review of these animals in years.

Midwest Book Review

A well written and detailed set of reference books... covering topics of great interest to both reptile enthusiast and the professional herpetologist alike.

Daniel P. Madigan, Indianapolis Zoo

These books have more information on these reptiles than I have ever seen in a book. Carl Ernst and Evelyn Ernst were great in compiling the information to make this book into an amazing and informational read. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Cybertron Reviews

These fascinating books cover all the venomous lizards and snakes... An essential purchase for academic and large public libraries, and a very worthwhile acquisition for herpetological library public or private.

Frederic F. Burchsted American Reference Books Annual

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Turtles of the United States and Canada (Hardcover)
by Carl H. Ernst and Jeffrey E. Lovich, Hardcover,

840 pages, The John Hopkins University Press, Second Edition, 7.3 lbs.

LIST PRICE $100.00 - OUR PRICE $79.95 Plus $13.00 for S&H

Ernst and Lovich’s thoroughly revised edition of this classic reference provides the most updated information ever assembled on the natural histories of North American turtles.

From diminutive mud turtles to giant alligator snappers, two of North America’s most prominent experts describe the turtles that live in the fresh, brackish, and marine waters north of Mexico. Incorporating the explosion of new scientific information published on turtles over the past fifteen years—including the identification of four new species—Ernst and Lovich supply comprehensive coverage of all fifty-eight species, with discussions of conservation status and recovery efforts.

Each species account contains information on identification, genetics, fossil record, distribution, geographic variation, habitat, behavior, reproduction, biology, growth and longevity, food habits, populations, predators, and conservation status. The book includes range maps for freshwater and terrestrial species, a glossary of scientific names, an extensive bibliography for further research, and an index to scientific and common names.

Logically organized and richly illustrated—with more than two hundred color photographs and fifty-two maps— Turtles of the United States and Canada remains the standard for libraries, museums, nature centers, field biologists, and professional and amateur herpetologists alike.


Editorial Reviews


A] monumental work... the standard reference to North American turtles for the next generation of biologists. Every serious vertebrate biologist on the continent will want a copy.

Herpetological Review

The most comprehensive compilation on North American turtles ever attempted and achieved.

Herpetofauna

In 1972, C. H. Ernst completed the daunting task of compiling a sequel to A. F. Carr's (1952) landmark Handbook of Turtles. Two decades later, Ernst, this time with assistance from former student and fellow cheloniophile J. E. Lovich, has done it again.

Copeia

For all turtle aficionados, this comprehensive review is the first of its kind published in the last twenty-five years.

Science News

If I did for some reason need to limit my turtle library to a single volume this book would be the one.

David S. Lee Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society

Ernst and Lovich have outdone themselves this time. The terms 'monumental' and of 'epic proportions' certainly come to mind... Truly amazing... This book is a real gem.

Chuck Schaffer Turtle and Tortoise Newsletter

The 645 pages of text, plus over 150 pages of references make it an almost limitless source of information on the chelonia of this part of the world. For such a well-presented and beautifully illustrated book, it represents excellent value for money for professional and amateur herpetologists alike.

Christine Tilley British Chelonia Group Newsletter

A comprehensive reference that summarizes the current knowledge about the 56 turtle species of the U.S. and Canada, of which 13 are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Book News

Anyone interested in turtles will want this book!

Birdbooker Report

Any college-level natural sciences library serious about turtles must have this substantially revised, updated second edition of the classic reference: Turtles of the United States and Canada. New species names supplements color photos charts, maps, and more in an extensive, detailed reference that is a 'must' for any definitive library.

Midwest Book Review

This work will be a standard reference on the shelves of libraries and other institutions with an interest in turtles.

Helen Ashton Reference Reviews

This second edition is an impressive accomplishment. Summarizing so much provides information is a daunting task and this book provides an amazing gateway into the vast body of scientific literature on North American turtles.

David Seburn Canadian Field-Naturalist

Turtles of the United States and Canada continues to be among the best taxa-specific ecological references ever compiled. It should be on the shelf of every library, serious turtle expert, herpetologist, vertebrate ecologist, or natural history buff.

Joshua M. Kapfer Natural Areas Journal 2010-01-00

A work of art.

(bio)accumulation

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Re: Herp- Digest Newsletter

Postby Philsuma » Wed Sep 18, 2013 5:12 pm

HerpDigest.org: The Only Free Weekly Electronic Newsletter That Reports on the Latest News on Herpetological Conservation, Husbandry and Science
Volume # 13 Issue # 42 9/17/13
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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The 2014 calendars are here, Turtles, Frogs, Snakes, Sea Turtles-same price as last year, $14.99 each, plus $6.00 S&H $2.00 for every additional calendar. To order, and see photos of the front and back covers as well as a sample photo of an inside page from all four calendars go to
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It’s Here-”The Tortoise- Volume 1 Number 2 - It's 160 glossy pages long. Over 160 color photos. And I have still managed to keep the price down to $20.00 each $6.00 S&H in the U.S.

“The Tortoise Magazine, [is] ostensibly Us Weekly for people who follow reptiles instead of Brad Pitt and ‘The Bachelor’”
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And for a very limited time Issue # 1-already a collectable- is available for $25.00. But only if you also buy (or have already bought from HerpDigest) issue #2. (If ordering only Issue # 1 S&H is $6.00) For both, shipping costs just add $2.00 for a total of $48.00
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:

1) Four New Species of California Legless Lizards
2) Bats and Snakes are the latest victims of mass killers in the wild (killer fungi)
3) Taiwan Setting up First Turtle Sanctuary After Second Seizure Within Weeks of More Than 2,000
4) Scientists Puzzled by Reappearance of Hawksbill Turtles in Gulf of Fonseca
5) Southern California Biologist Collects First DNA Samples from Pancake Tortoises in East Africa
6) Rock Python Kills Full-Grown Husky in Florida
7) Report - Loose Laws Threaten Australia’s Wildlife
8) Green Sea turtle nesting numbers soar in Florida

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Books on sale (see below for information on the books below)

Frogs of the US & Canada 2 volume Hardcover set,

Biology of Amphibians,

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico: Two Volume Hardcover set,

Turtles of U.S. & Canada
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1) Four New Species of California Legless Lizards

Brevoria, Museum of Comparative Zoology, 9/16/13 Number 536

Papenfuss, Theodore J. and James F. Parham.

ABSTRACT: A previous genetic study of the California legless lizard (Anniella pulchra) revealed five deep genetic lineages and alluded to morphological differences among them. Here we show that three of these genetic lineages can be readily diagnosed from topotypic A. pulchra through a combination of coloration, scalation, and skeletal characters (trunk vertebra number). A fourth lineage is cryptic, but can be diagnosed from A. pulchra by its karyotype.
We argue that these genetic clades of A. pulchra are strong candidates for species recognition because they exhibit properties that corroborate the DNA evidence for lineage separation. We therefore hypothesize that each of the five genetic clades of A. pulchra (‘‘Anniella clades A–E’’) are distinct species and so describe four new species (Anniella alexanderae, sp. nov., Anniella campi, sp. nov., Anniella grinnelli, sp. nov., and Anniella stebbinsi, sp. nov.).
In naming these new species we have chosen to honor four natural historians whose contributions to the study of California’s vertebrate biodiversity are an ongoing inspiration for students of natural history and natural history museum curators.
Two of these new species have small and poorly characterized ranges in the San Joaquin Valley and Carrizo Plain (A. alexanderae and A. grinnelli). A third restricted-range species (A. campi) is known from just three sites in the eastern Sierra Nevada. The fourth new species (A. stebbinsi) is a wide-ranging cryptic lineage that occurs throughout Southern California and into Baja California, Mexico. The limited distribution and fragile habitats occupied by the new species of Anniella warrant additional scientific research and conservation attention.

The PDF can be downloaded from the CNAH website, or here:
http://mczbase.mcz.harvard.edu/specimen ... ra_536.pdf
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2) Bats and snakes are the latest victims of mass killers in the wild (killer fungi)
Washington Post, by Darryl Fears, 9/15/13
Jeremy Coleman was on the trail of a ruthless serial killer, recently studying its behavior, patterns and moves at a Massachusetts lab. The more he saw, the more it confirmed a hunch. He had seen it all before. He was looking at a copycat.
The mass killer of bats under Coleman’s microscope, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, has a lot in common with Chytridiomycosis, a mass killer of frogs and other amphibians. The culprits resemble a third killer, Ophidiomyces, which kills and disfigures snakes.

They are fungi, and they arrived in the United States from overseas with an assist from humans — through travel and trade. They prefer cold conditions and kill with precision, so efficiently that they’re creating a crisis in the wild.
The death toll among amphibians, bats and snakes from fungi represents “potential extinction events,” said Coleman, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife research biologist who coordinates the government’s response to the bat-killing infection known as white-nose syndrome. It’s so large, he said, that it can’t be measured “as far as numbers of dead organisms” and is “decimating populations as we know them.”
Together with a little-understood disease that is destroying honeybees, the mass die-offs are a huge concern. “We anticipate there will be direct impacts with the loss of so many animals on a massive scale,” Coleman said.
Honeybees pollinate crops, and bats eat billions of pests that ruin them. Frogs and other amphibians help researchers find medical cures, and snakes eat tick-infested rodents that spread Lyme disease. But with little public and private funding, scientists are almost powerless to stop the plague.
“The field of fungal research is small, underfunded and often totally overlooked relative to its importance in the environment,’’ said Arturo Casadevall, a professor and chairman of microbiology and immunology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. “To my knowledge, there are no successful precedents for the control of fungal pathogens in the wild.”
The pathogens wiping out 10 species of bats, including 93 percent of little brown bats in the Northeast, and at least six snake species in nine states, such as the pygmy rattlesnake and common rat snake, may have been around for decades.
But they have been mostly overlooked until recently, because “they’re affecting wildlife that do not have a direct agricultural or human health impact” — unlike swine flu — “so they fall outside the traditional model of disease response,” Coleman said.
As the threat grows, federal and state officials are beginning to coordinate teams of scientists trying to stop it. In addition to working on the response to white-nose syndrome, Coleman is leading the effort to arrest the progress of the fungus affecting snakes.
Fish and Wildlife was directed by Congress to pursue white nose and other fungi, but was not provided with funding for staff.
“We’re tracking these killer fungi, and we’re trying to respond to them on a landscape of low interest and low budget,” Coleman said.
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3) Taiwan Setting up First Turtle Sanctuary After Second Seizure Within Weeks of More Than 2,000
Tapai Times, 9/18/13---Taiwan is to set up its first turtle sanctuary, officials said on Sunday, after the second seizure within weeks of more than 2,000 of the protected creatures, which had been bound for dinner plates in China.
Coast Guard Administration personnel on Saturday discovered 2,439 Asian yellow pond and yellow-lined box turtles in a fishing boat in Donggang, a port in Pingtung County.
The skipper of the boat, bound for China, and three Indonesian crew were arrested. They could face jail terms of up to five years plus a fine of up to NT$1.5 million (US$50,400), according to the Wildlife Protection Act .
Coast guard personnel seized 2,626 rare turtles on board another boat last month, as they were being taken off the island, in what the authorities said was their biggest ever seizure of smuggled turtles.
They were to be sold as a delicacy or used as an ingredient in China for traditional medicine, officials said.
The sanctuary on the Feitsui Reservoir outside Taipei will open next month.
“The preservation of rare turtles in the [reservoir] area is already relatively better” compared with other areas in the nation, forestry bureau official Kuan Li-hao said.
“Once the sanctuary is set up, patrols will be stepped up there to deter poaching,” Kuan said.
“As winter approaches, the demand for turtles in China, especially in the south, is rising,” Kuan said.
Because the number of wild turtles is in sharp decline in China, market prices have surged to about five times those of Taiwan.
The two types of turtles seized in the past three weeks are in the second tier of Taiwan’s national three-category wildlife protection list, meaning they are deemed rare and valuable. The first category is for endangered species.
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4) Scientists Puzzled by Reappearance of Hawksbill Turtles in Gulf of Fonseca

Latin American Herald Tribune- Tegucigalpa-Honduras-9/18/13– Scientists are trying to explain the reappearance in Central America’s Gulf of Fonseca of the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill sea turtle, a species that many specialists considered virtually extinct, officials said.

The turtles’ discovery is the subject of a study by the scientific committee of the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles, or IAC, which just wrapped up its 10th biannual meeting in Honduras, Honduran Natural Resources and Environment Secretariat director of biodiversity Rafael Amaro Garcia told Efe.

The committee visited the Gulf of Fonseca to get a firsthand look at a conservation project for Olive Ridley turtles before finishing its meeting.

The Eastern Pacific Hawksbill sea turtle was considered critically endangered until about seven years ago, with many scientists considering the species extinct.

Scientists have now discovered that the turtles are once again arriving in the Gulf of Fonseca, a large body of water in western Central America that is shared by Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

“We know the Eastern Pacific Hawksbill turtle is arriving in the Gulf of Fonseca, but we do not know why, nor do we know if its life cycle has changed – if a large number stay in the gulf – or if it is due to food, nesting or even why they live here,” Garcia said.

Experts do not know if the Hawksbill’s presence in the Gulf of Fonseca is due to climate change, which is affecting other sea turtles around the world.

The IAC’s scientific committee agreed to identify the types of beaches used by the turtles to nest in the Americas so the animals can be monitored and protected over the next 10 years, Garcia said.

Scientists want to learn how many turtles there are, what affects them, why they come and go, and gender numbers so action can be taken to protect them, Garcia said.

Sea turtles face a “very complex” situation in the world and some countries in the Americas “are trying to work in a focused way” to protect them, IAC scientific committee vice president Rene Marquez told Efe.

Coastal residents in some countries use the turtles and their eggs for food, complicating efforts to protect the animals, Marquez said.

“Conservation is growing, but there is still much left to do,” Marquez said.

The Hawksbill turtle, a carnivore with a diet consisting of marine sponges, winkles, crustaceans, sea urchins, starfish, mollusks and fish, lays its eggs on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

An adult Hawksbill has a shell measuring between 71 and 91 centimeters (28 and 36 inches) and weighs between 36 and 64 kilos (79 and 141 pounds). EFE
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5) Southern California Biologist Collects First DNA Samples from Pancake Tortoises in East Africa
From the Blog "Trojan Tortoise"9/9/13
I’ve just returned from my most recent trip to east Africa, where I had the opportunity to collect tissue samples (blood) from two naturally-occurring pancake tortoise (Malocochersus tornieri) populations in central Tanzania. Accompanied by my partner Jane, I travelled by bus from Nairobi, Kenya to Arusha, Tanzania to meet my friend, research colleague, and pancake tortoise expert Reginald Mwaya. Reginald has been studying pancake tortoises, locally known in Tanzania as kobe chapati, for nearly 20 years. He’s recorded attributes from numerous tortoise populations throughout his country of Tanzania as the basis for his dissertation research. Together we collected the first blood samples from natural localities to be used for genetic analyses of the species. Reginald hopes to gain an understanding of gene flow between pancake tortoise populations that are seemingly isolated among patches of widely distributed habitat; I’m interested in reconstructing the evolutionary and biogeographic history of the species across its entire range, which includes Tanzania and Kenya.
Pancake tortoises, also called soft-shelled tortoises or crevice tortoises, are perhaps the most unique species of tortoise on Earth. As their names imply, they are dorso-ventrally flattened in shape, have soft, pliable shells, and inhabit the cracks and crevices of large granitic boulders. Like many other tortoise species, they sport intricately-patterned shells and eat primarily grasses and other vegetation. However, while other tortoise species are afforded protection from predation by having hard shells, pancake tortoises avoid predation by spending the majority of time wedged tightly into deep rock crevices out of the reach of predators. One of the most interesting aspects of the biology of the species is that they are apparently restricted to rock outcrops formed during the Pre-Cambrian Era. These rocks occur from northern Kenya to northeastern Zambia, and are exposed on the surfaces of isolated hills or kopjes, ridges, and other areas of relatively steep topography. As these rock outcrops are scattered in a patchy distribution across the landscape, so are pancake tortoise populations. What we don’t yet understand is how individual pancake tortoises disperse or travel between these scattered outcrops, or how their apparent geographic isolation among them has contributed to genetic differentiation between populations. So collection of these DNA samples from specific localities will provide important data for answering our research questions.
Reginald arrived in Arusha with his trusted field technician Joseph Naibana to pick Jane and me up, and together we travelled to Kondoa in central Tanzania. The trip was not easy; we suffered during a long, bumpy ride along a rough road more than 80 kilometers in length, and our accommodations in Kondoa, a small town known for its suspicion of outsiders, were quite primitive. From Kondoa, we could sample two populations within a one-hour drive of town, including one at the village of Jenjeluse and another at Kolo. We set out the next morning, starting in Jenjeluse. There we were accompanied by two men from the village, who observed our work. The pancake tortoise population at Jenjeluse is distributed along a long narrow, ridge where rock outcrops and boulders were scattered. Reginald had previously documented a number of crevices in these outcrops where pancake tortoises occurred. We visited these previously recorded crevices, as well as several new ones, and captured and sampled ten tortoises over a two-hour span. In one crevice, we observed a sleeping African hedgehog. We also observed recent anthropogenic disturbances at the site, including an agricultural plot and evidence of boulder crushing for producing gravel. After wrapping up work at Jenjeluse, we headed back to Kondoa for a quick lunch consisting of rice, beans, greens, and roasted goat before heading to the village of Kolo. The pancake tortoise population at this locality is situated among scattered rock outcrops downslope from the Kolo cave paintings, a World Heritage cultural site. We had just an hour to work before sunset, during which time we captured and sampled four pancake tortoises.
The DNA samples we collected are the first ever collected from naturally-occurring pancake tortoise populations, and are the first of many we hope to obtain in our pursuit of understanding of the biology of the species. In addition to my work with Reginald Mwaya in Tanzania, I also hope to obtain funding, in collaboration with Patrick Malonza at the National Museums of Kenya, to begin work with pancake tortoises in his country. In addition to conducting scientific analyses, we hope to assess the status of pancake tortoise populations within each country, and establish conservation programs where they occur. Stay tuned for additional details…
for photos http://chelonologist.wordpress.com/
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6) Rock Python Kills Full-Grown Husky in Florida
(From “That Retile Blog by Frank Indiviglio,9/12/13)
Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. At least 45 species of non-native reptiles and amphibians have established breeding populations in Florida. The most notorious of these, the Burmese Python, Python bivittatus, has been much in the news in recent years. Recently, however, another of the state’s introduced giant constrictors grabbed the headlines.
On Sept. 10, 2013, a Northern African Rock Python, P. sebae, killed a 60 pound husky in a suburban yard near the Everglades. While much has been made of the threats posed by large constrictors, what interested me most about this incident was the fact that the snake involved was quite small by Rock Python standards. Despite being only 10 foot long and 38 pounds in weight, the snake was able to overcome and kill a 60 pound dog.
Based on my experiences with large constrictors in the Bronx Zoo and the wild, I would guess that the attack was defensive in nature. The only 60 pound snake meal I’ve witnessed (a White-tailed Deer) involved a 17 foot long, 215 pound Green Anaconda…and its huge body appeared stretched to its limit.
Rock Pythons in Africa and Florida
The husky incident occurred in an area of Miami-Dade County known to harbor a population of African Rock Pythons (please see this article for further information). First observed there in 2002, 25-40 individuals, including juveniles, have been captured since. The dog that was killed weighed 60 pounds – well within the weight range that could be handled by a large African Rock Python. While working at the Bronx Zoo, I often perused back issues of Herpetologica, Copeia and Herpetological Review. Published accounts of African Rock Pythons taking Impala, Baboons and other large animals were common, and I recall several instances of predation upon humans. Tragically, an African Rock Python that escaped its cage killed 2 boys in Canada last month.
The python involved in the instant case was wrapped around the dog’s neck, head and body. It is very likely that the neck hold was critical in allowing the snake to overcome such a large, formidable animal. Pressure in this area can render a person or animal unconscious in seconds. A 5 foot-long Black Ratsnake nearly did so to a co-worker of mine, and healthy young men have been killed by relatively small Burmese Pythons that were allowed to coil about their necks.
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7) Report - Loose Laws Threaten Australia’s Wildlife
Mongaby.com, 9/9/13 by Liz Kimbrough


Kookaburras, koalas and kangaroos—Australia is well known for its charismatic animals and vast, seemingly untamable, wild spaces. But throughout the country, the national parks and reserves that protect these unique animals and ecosystems have come under increasing threat. New rules and relaxed regulations, which bolster immediate economic growth, are putting pressure on Australia's already-threatened biodiversity.

Legislation allowing recreational shooting has been introduced in New South Wales. In Victoria, developers will be allowed to build hotels in national parks. New laws have been passed by the Queensland government to allow the feeding of livestock in national parks during droughts, and a scientific trial of grazing in several national parks and reserves has been re-instated after previous unsuccessful attempts. According to some, these examples point to a disturbing trend towards ecological irresponsibility within state legislature.

A group of 21 concerned scientists from across Australia collaborated to address the threats to their natural heritage. The resulting paper, "Relaxed laws imperil Australian wildlife," was published June, 2013 in Nature.

Australia has one of the world's worst conservation records over the past few centuries, having lost a large number of endemic mammals. Being unconnected to other landmasses, Australia suffers from extinction rates similar to islands. In addition, as in much of the world, Australian biodiversity has suffered from impacts of habitat loss and modification, climate change, inappropriate fire regimes and invasive species (most notably cats and red foxes).

"It is difficult to find any ecosystem that is not at serious risk because many threats such as climate change and invasive species span large areas and both public and private land," lead author, Euan Ritchie, told mongabay.com. "In terms of priorities, what is urgently needed is better resourcing of the nature reserves that already exist, not further weakening of them by adding new pressures such as logging and livestock grazing."

"Further compromising our best protection against extinctions (nature reserves) by allowing inappropriate uses of these areas seems very reckless and unjustifiable."

The Tasmanian devil, leadbeater's possum, spot-tailed quoll, and northern hairy-nosed wombat are just a few of the mammals listed as Endangered on the IUNC Red List. Hundreds of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, marine animals and fish are listed as threatened in Australia; and without adequate habitat protection, many of Australia's surviving species remain at high risk of extinction.

In response to the concerns raised by scientists, environmental advocacy groups and citizens, acting Minister of National Parks, Tim Mander, publicly stated, "the Newman Government is embracing low-impact eco-tourism initiatives, to help boost revenue that can be put back into park management and conservation."

Mr. Mander says these initiatives are welcomed by tourism associations for "funding and employment opportunities as well as the chance to offer a good outcome for conservation and the community...But let me make this clear, there will be no recreational hunting, no logging, no mining in Queensland's National Parks."

Australia established its first National Park, the Royal National Park south of Sydney, in 1879, making it the second National Park in the world. State legislation has been in place to protect Australia's Parks and reserves from for the past 135 years, and with good reason. Aside from ensuring that the biotic riches of the continent are passed onto future generations, biodiversity underpins major industries such as tourism and agriculture. By some estimates, Tourism in Australia generates around $100 million per day in revenues.

Protecting Australia's biodiversity will require more than a fortification of existing laws, Euan Ritchie says, "we need far more economic and logistical support for people to actively manage nature reserves (e.g. fire regimes and pest control), and this includes experimenting with different forms of management to see what approaches work best for biodiversity conservation. This is often referred to as adaptive management. We also need to start being more bold in approaching conservation issues, such as considering reintroducing native predators (e.g. Tasmanian devils and dingoes) to restore key ecological functions."

"Perhaps above all though," Ritchie adds, "we need to remind the public of why biodiversity is so important to our long-term survival and well-being and hence why prioritizing its conservation is of utmost importance."

CITATION: Ritchie, Euan G., et al. Conservation: Relaxed laws imperil Australian wildlife. Nature. 498.7455. (2013): 434.

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8) Green Sea turtle nesting numbers soar in Florida
By CURTIS MORGAN, Miami Herald, 9/15/13
When the late Archie Carr, a pioneering University of Florida ecologist, first began documenting the decline of sea turtles in the 1960s, the future looked grim — particularly for the green turtle.
The green turtle had long been a Florida seafood menu staple, usually served up in the famous soup. But with the population largely eaten out of existence in state waters, most meat had to be imported. To make matters worse, eggs were routinely poached from beach nests. And hatchlings, attracted the lights of growing coastal communities, crawled inland rather than out to sea, dying in the hot sun or under car tires.
At the low point, Carr estimated there were no more than 30 to 40 green turtle nests along the entire Florida coast, its primary nursery ground.
Now, greens are in the midst of an unprecedented nesting boom from South Florida to South Carolina.
With a month left in nesting season, Florida wildlife managers say preliminary numbers show green turtle nesting has more than doubled statewide. Biologists have already tallied a record 11,500 nests in one 20-mile stretch alone — in the national refuge south of Melbourne Beach that bears Carr’s name — doubling a high set only two years ago.
Green turtles, which average 350 pounds when full-grown, have even crawled ashore in not-so-inviting areas like rocky oceanside Elliott Key, giving Biscayne National Park its first documented green turtle nest.
“It’s just a miracle,” said Llewellyn Ehrhart, a University of Central Florida zoologist who has monitored nesting in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge for decades. “This is one of the greatest positive stories in the history of wildlife conservation in America, mostly because they were decimated so badly.”
Ehrhart and state and federal wildlife managers credit a host of save-the-sea-turtle measures enacted over the past few decades for the resurgence of nesting in the southeastern United States. Two other species that most commonly nest in Florida, the loggerhead and leatherback, also have been on a general upward trend, but not one nearly as dramatic as the green turtle.
“It’s very positive, and 20-plus years of conservation efforts are really starting to pay off,” said Ann Marie Lauritsen, acting national sea turtle coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Those efforts include seasonal lighting ordinances adopted by an increasing number of coastal communities to reduce street and building lights that confuse nesting turtles and development restrictions that have preserved crucial nesting sites like the Carr refuge, which Congress created in 1991. Its beach, which straddles Brevard and Indian River counties, typically produces about half the state’s turtle nests.
A ban on gillnets that Florida enacted in 1994 to protect dwindling stocks of redfish, mullet and other shallow-water species probably had a healthy ripple effect on green turtles, which are vegetarians often found foraging in the same sea-grass meadows. Turtle extruder devices fitted to shrimp trawlers that allow turtles to escape nets and death as “by-catch” may have helped as well — but more for deep-water species such as the loggerhead and leatherback.
Ehrhart and Blair Witherington, a scientist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, believe the rebound really began in 1978, when the green turtle was added to the federal list of endangered species. The declaration banned the harvest of eggs, turtle fishing and any sale of sea turtle meat, domestic or imported. All five of the species that nest in Florida remain on the list today, with the green, leatherback, hawksbill and — rarest of all — Kemp’s Ridley all considered at the highest risk. The loggerhead, the most common turtle, is listed as threatened.
“When we stopped eating them, that was a pretty big effect,” said Witherington. “Lo and behold, you stop hitting them on the head and killing them, and they come back.”
Still, it took quite a while for sea turtles, which can live 60 or more years and do not typically reach breeding maturity for 20 to 30 years, to respond.
When Ehrhart started his beach surveys in 1982, he found fewer than 50 nests in the Archie Carr. By the early 1990s, the numbers began to bump into the hundreds. Over the past decade, it bounced in and out of the thousands, hitting 5,500 in 2011. This year, he was shocked and thrilled to see nesting numbers leap above 10,000. Overall, he said, it represents a growth rate that, he believes, may be unprecedented in wildlife-conservation efforts.
Nesting is up across the green turtle’s range, said Lauritsen, with increases in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia as well. South Florida, which doesn’t get nearly as many nests as Central Florida, has still seen its numbers jump.
“Overall in the last 33 years, I think 11 is the most we’ve had,” said Bill Ahern, Miami-Dade County’s longtime sea turtle conservationist. “We’re looking at 32 green nests so far [this year]. It’s been amazing.”
In Broward, green turtle numbers rose from 209 last year to 458 so far this year, said Courtney Kiel, a natural resources specialist with Broward County.
One determined turtle even managed to nest on Elliott Key in Biscayne Bay, lumbering over jagged rock, then digging out plants and sand on a narrow dune strip — the first green nest ever documented in Biscayne National Park. Only about a third of the hatchlings were able to escape the thick brush on their own, so park biologists plucked out 66 others and released them in the ocean last month.
Add the 18 nests that loggerheads dug in the park, and you have an explosion of activity, said park biologist Vanessa McDonough. “Nineteen nests may not sound like a big number to a lot, but in the last eight to nine years we’ve averaged four,” she said.
Despite the encouraging increases, wildlife manages are not ready to pronounce sea turtles out of danger. Populations of some species remain precariously low. Kemp’s Ridley turtles, which mainly nest on the Mexican Gulf Coast but sporadically are found in Florida, are thought to number fewer than a thousand nesting females. The hawksbill is also rare. Nests of the massive leatherback can sometimes number in the dozens in Florida.
Nesting also runs in cycles, with turtles traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to return to build nests in the same areas where they were hatched. The output can yo-yo from year to year for reasons that are not always clear. Loggerheads, the most common turtle, began to decline starting in the late 1990s, but nesting has more recently gone up and down.
“At this point, it’s tough to tell for loggerheads what the long-term trend will be,” said Lauritsen.
Green turtles still face a host of threats, many shared by other species. Because they frequent coastal waters, boat strikes kill or injure many turtles. They are also exposed to toxic algae blooms like red tide, as well as potentially fatal freezes. Pollution and development can degrade and damage their habitats.
And while many countries have also begun to ban the harvest of eggs and meat, turtles still wind up legally and illegally in plates and bowls in some countries. There is also the question of climate change and whether rising sea levels will swamp beaches and nesting areas.
Two years ago, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service conducted a global reassessment of loggerheads, dividing them into nine separate populations and leaving the American populations listed as threatened. The agencies are now conducting a similar analysis for green turtles, but Lauritsen said it was too soon to speculate whether the nesting boom would be enough to removed its endangered tag.
Still, there is a lot more hope than there was a few decades ago.
Miami-Dade’s Ahern, who grew up in South Florida, recalls being appalled as a teenager in Miami Beach when he crossed Collins Avenue and found the road “carpeted with dead sea turtle hatchlings.”
There has been a sea change in public support for recovery efforts and turtle-friendly ordinances. In many coastal counties, crews survey beaches every morning to mark nests, but poaching reports remains rare.
Under state rules, biologists also now save nests that once might have been destroyed — in construction sites, for example, or below the high-tide line, where waves might wash away sand and expose the eggs.
“After all these years, it really feels like we’re making headway,” Ahern said.

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Books on Sale

Frogs of the United States and Canada, 2-vol. set by C.Kenneth Dodd

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With many frog populations declining or disappearing and developmental malformations and disease afflicting others, scientists, conservationists, and concerned citizens need up-to-date, accurate information. Frogs of the United States and Canada is a comprehensive resource for those trying to protect amphibians as well as for researchers and wildlife managers who study biodiversity. From acrobatic tree frogs to terrestrial toads, C. Kenneth Dodd Jr. offers an unparalleled synthesis of the biology, behavior, and conservation of frogs in North America.

This two-volume, fully referenced resource provides color photographs and range maps for 106 native and nonindigenous species and includes detailed information on- past and present distribution- life history and demography - reproduction and diet- landscape ecology and evolution- - diseases, parasites, and threats from toxic substances- conservation and management

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Biology of Amphibians

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This is the widely acclaimed, preeminent reference and text on all aspects of amphibian biology, including their life history, ecology, morphology, and evolution. Copiously illustrated with original drawings and photographs and meticulously referenced with more than 2,500 bibliographic entries, it has proved indispensable to professional biologists and students alike. Now reissued in paperback with an updated preface by the authors, Biology of Amphibians remains the standard work in its field.

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The Authors

William E. Duellman and Linda Trueb are curators in the division of herpetology at the Museum of Natural History, University of Kansas, Lawrence.

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Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico: Two Volume Hardcover set- by Carl H. & Evelyn M. Ernst

Volume I - Heloderma, Micruroides, Micrurus, Pelamis, Agkistrodon, Sistrurus-

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Volume One of this definitive work presents dramatically improved species accounts of the venomous lizards and elapid and viperid snakes found north of Mexico’s twenty-fifth parallel.

Volume Two covers the twenty-one rattlesnakes found in the United States, Canada, and, for the first time, species found only in northern Mexico.

Ernst and Ernst have painstakingly researched and verified the highly valuable and detailed information in this volume, including every detail of the lives of these fascinating and sometimes deadly animals. Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico provides facts on each animal’s diet, reproductive behavior, physiology, ecology, and conservation status. The book also covers details on snakebite, how venom is delivered, venom composition, antivenom production, and medical treatments of envenomation. Each species account includes vivid photographs that aid with identification and detailed maps that show the species range.

Mixing their own research with careful data description and intriguing stories, Ernst and Ernst present the most accurate and interesting view of North America’s rattlesnakes available. They provide general background information on Crotalus, including venom delivery systems, how rattles function, what rattlesnakes eat, and what eats rattlesnakes. Additionally, they offer specific and fascinating details, such as observations of rattlesnakes swimming to offshore islands, accounts of male combat bouts, possible "anting" behavior in Crotalus viridis, and the features of the Santa Catalina Island rattleless rattlesnake. Each species account includes vivid photographs, range maps, and explanations of the limits to their respective distribution.

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico represents the latest research on these animals and includes the most extensive bibliography of literature on the subject. Anyone with an interest in venom, snakes, or herpetology in general will find a wealth of information within the pages of these impressive volumes.


About the Authors

Carl H. Ernst, professor emeritus at George Mason University and a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution, is coauthor of Turtles of the United States and Canada, also published by Johns Hopkins . Until her recent retirement, Evelyn M. Ernst taught high school chemistry and biology and was an administrator with the National Science Resources Center. Together they wrote Snakes of the United States and Canada.

Editorial Reviews

Likely to remain the standard reference for the next 20 years.

SciTech Book News

Ernst has provided a beautiful summary of the literature in this area. Anyone interested in the biology of these reptiles will find in this book a spectacular time-saver... He has done the field of herpetology a great service.

The Quarterly Review of Biology

This is an authoritative summary of the authors' personal research and more than 3,000 literature sources. An excellent resource for professionals in many fields for years to come and a detailed reference book for anyone wishing to know about venomous snakes.

This two-volume set is by far the most complete, thoroughly researched, and accurate work on North American venomous reptiles yet published... Essential.

Choice

Venomous Reptiles of the United States, Canada, and Northern Mexico will be the standard reference for herpetologists, and a source of fascination for enthusiasts.

Steven Winchell Reptilia

Carl and Evelyn Ernst have completely revised their landmark reference Venomous Reptiles of North America to present the most comprehensive review of these animals in years.

Midwest Book Review

A well written and detailed set of reference books... covering topics of great interest to both reptile enthusiast and the professional herpetologist alike.

Daniel P. Madigan, Indianapolis Zoo

These books have more information on these reptiles than I have ever seen in a book. Carl Ernst and Evelyn Ernst were great in compiling the information to make this book into an amazing and informational read. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Cybertron Reviews

These fascinating books cover all the venomous lizards and snakes... An essential purchase for academic and large public libraries, and a very worthwhile acquisition for herpetological library public or private.

Frederic F. Burchsted American Reference Books Annual

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Turtles of the United States and Canada (Hardcover)
by Carl H. Ernst and Jeffrey E. Lovich, Hardcover,

840 pages, The John Hopkins University Press, Second Edition, 7.3 lbs.

LIST PRICE $100.00 - OUR PRICE $79.95 Plus $13.00 for S&H

Ernst and Lovich’s thoroughly revised edition of this classic reference provides the most updated information ever assembled on the natural histories of North American turtles.

From diminutive mud turtles to giant alligator snappers, two of North America’s most prominent experts describe the turtles that live in the fresh, brackish, and marine waters north of Mexico. Incorporating the explosion of new scientific information published on turtles over the past fifteen years—including the identification of four new species—Ernst and Lovich supply comprehensive coverage of all fifty-eight species, with discussions of conservation status and recovery efforts.

Each species account contains information on identification, genetics, fossil record, distribution, geographic variation, habitat, behavior, reproduction, biology, growth and longevity, food habits, populations, predators, and conservation status. The book includes range maps for freshwater and terrestrial species, a glossary of scientific names, an extensive bibliography for further research, and an index to scientific and common names.

Logically organized and richly illustrated—with more than two hundred color photographs and fifty-two maps— Turtles of the United States and Canada remains the standard for libraries, museums, nature centers, field biologists, and professional and amateur herpetologists alike.


Editorial Reviews


A] monumental work... the standard reference to North American turtles for the next generation of biologists. Every serious vertebrate biologist on the continent will want a copy.

Herpetological Review

The most comprehensive compilation on North American turtles ever attempted and achieved.

Herpetofauna

In 1972, C. H. Ernst completed the daunting task of compiling a sequel to A. F. Carr's (1952) landmark Handbook of Turtles. Two decades later, Ernst, this time with assistance from former student and fellow cheloniophile J. E. Lovich, has done it again.

Copeia

For all turtle aficionados, this comprehensive review is the first of its kind published in the last twenty-five years.

Science News

If I did for some reason need to limit my turtle library to a single volume this book would be the one.

David S. Lee Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society

Ernst and Lovich have outdone themselves this time. The terms 'monumental' and of 'epic proportions' certainly come to mind... Truly amazing... This book is a real gem.

Chuck Schaffer Turtle and Tortoise Newsletter

The 645 pages of text, plus over 150 pages of references make it an almost limitless source of information on the chelonia of this part of the world. For such a well-presented and beautifully illustrated book, it represents excellent value for money for professional and amateur herpetologists alike.

Christine Tilley British Chelonia Group Newsletter

A comprehensive reference that summarizes the current knowledge about the 56 turtle species of the U.S. and Canada, of which 13 are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Book News

Anyone interested in turtles will want this book!

Birdbooker Report

Any college-level natural sciences library serious about turtles must have this substantially revised, updated second edition of the classic reference: Turtles of the United States and Canada. New species names supplements color photos charts, maps, and more in an extensive, detailed reference that is a 'must' for any definitive library.

Midwest Book Review

This work will be a standard reference on the shelves of libraries and other institutions with an interest in turtles.

Helen Ashton Reference Reviews

This second edition is an impressive accomplishment. Summarizing so much provides information is a daunting task and this book provides an amazing gateway into the vast body of scientific literature on North American turtles.

David Seburn Canadian Field-Naturalist

Turtles of the United States and Canada continues to be among the best taxa-specific ecological references ever compiled. It should be on the shelf of every library, serious turtle expert, herpetologist, vertebrate ecologist, or natural history buff.

Joshua M. Kapfer Natural Areas Journal 2010-01-00

A work of art.

(bio)accumulation

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Re: Herp- Digest Newsletter

Postby Philsuma » Mon Sep 23, 2013 5:42 pm

HerpDigest.org: The Only Free Weekly Electronic Newsletter That Reports on the Latest News on Herpetological Conservation, Husbandry and Science
Volume # 13 Issue # 43 9/22/13
Publisher/Editor- Allen Salzberg
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HerpDigest is a non-profit organization that is totally dependent on your generosity for its continued existence. Please feel free to make a donation on top of your order.
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The 2014 calendars are here, Turtles, Frogs, Snakes, Sea Turtles-same price as last year, $14.99 each, plus $6.00 S&H $2.00 for every additional calendar. To order, and see photos of the front and back covers as well as a sample photo of an inside page from all four calendars go to
http://www.herpdigest.org/calendars.html
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PLACE YOUR ORDERS NOW
The Map Turtle and Sawback Atlas
Ecology, Evolution, Distribution, and Conservation
By Peter V. Lindeman
Hardcover, Illustrations: 70 color photos, 164 b&w illus., 14 maps, 33 tables
Published: Early 12/13-Which means your copies will arrive late 12/13 to 1/14
$45.00 PLUS $7.00 S&H
288 pages, 6.125" x 9.25"
Covering all facets of the biology of a little-known genus, Peter V. Lindeman’s lavishly illustrated Map Turtle and Sawback Atlas is both a scientific treatise and an engaging introduction to a striking group of turtles. Everything we know about these beautiful animals so far.
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”The Tortoise- Volume 1 Number 2 - It's 160 glossy pages long. Over 160 color photos. And I have still managed to keep the price down to $20.00 each $6.00 S&H in the U.S.

“The Tortoise Magazine, [is] ostensibly Us Weekly for people who follow reptiles instead of Brad Pitt and ‘The Bachelor’”
-The Wall Street Journal

And for a very limited time Issue # 1-already a collectable- is available for $25.00. But only if you also buy (or have already bought from HerpDigest) issue #2. (If ordering only Issue # 1 S&H is $6.00) For both, shipping costs just add $2.00 for a total of $48.00

Overseas please email us at asalzberg@herpdigest.org for exact shipping costs.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS:

1) An Evaluation of the Robustness of Global Amphibian Range Maps
2) Human-facilitated jump dispersal of a non-native frog species on Hawai'i Island
3) Mechanisms of competition between tadpoles of Australian frogs (Litoria spp.) and invasive cane toads (Rhinella marina)
4) 850 Snakes Found In Animal Control Officer's Garage In Long Island
5) Turtle Eye Muscle Adapts to Deal With Obstructed Vision
6) Three New Species of Tiny Frogs from the Remarkable Region of Papua New Guinea
7) Snakes on a Plain (A Journalist's Tour of Rattlesnake Roundups)

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Some Other Books on Sale-See below for more info and how to order.

Turtles, Frogs, Geckos: 3 Separate Books From The Animal Answer Guide Series: Q&A for the Curious Naturalist

Lizard Social Behavior
Patterns of Distribution of Amphibians: A Global Perspective
The Rise of Amphibians: 365 Million Years of Evolution
Turtles of the World
Biology and Conservation of Ridley Sea Turtles

Biology of the Snapping Turtle ( Chelydra serpentina)
The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles
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1) An Evaluation of the Robustness of Global Amphibian Range Maps
Journal of Biogeography
Early View (Online Version of Record published before inclusion in an issue)
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... 6/abstract
1. Gentile Francesco Ficetola1,*,
2. Carlo Rondinini2,
3. Anna Bonardi1,
4. Vineet Katariya3,
5. Emilio Padoa-Schioppa1,
6. Ariadne Angulo3
1Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milano, Italy
2Global Mammal Assessment program, Department of Biology and Biotechnologies, Sapienza University of Rome, Roma, Italy
3IUCN Global Species Programme, Gland, Switzerland
* Correspondence: Gentile Francesco Ficetola, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Milano-Bicocca, Piazza della Scienza 1, 20126 Milano, Italy.
E-mail: francesco.ficetola@unimib.it
Article first published online: 9/16/13
Abstract
Aim
Maps of species ranges are among the most frequently used distribution data in biodiversity studies. As with any biological data, range maps have some level of measurement error, but this error is rarely quantified. We assessed the error associated with amphibian range maps by comparing them with point locality data.
Location
Global.
Methods
The maps published by the Global Amphibian Assessment were assessed against two data sets of species point localities: the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), and a refined data set including recently published, high-quality presence data from both GBIF and other sources. Range fit was measured as the proportion of presence records falling within the range polygon(s) for each species.
Results
Using the high-quality point data provided better fit measures than using the raw GBIF data. Range fit was highly variable among continents, being highest for North American and European species (a fit of 84–94%), and lowest for Asian and South American species (a fit of 57–64%). At the global scale, 95% of amphibian point records were inside the ranges published in maps, or within 31 km of the range edge. However, differences among continents were striking, and more points were found far from range edges for South American and Asian species.
Main conclusions
The Global Amphibian Assessment range maps represent the known distribution of most amphibians well; this study provides measures of accuracy that can be useful for future research using amphibian maps as baseline data. Nevertheless, there is a need for greater investment in the continuous updating and improvement of maps, particularly in the megadiverse areas of tropical Asia and South America.
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2) Human-facilitated jump dispersal of a non-native frog species on Hawai'i Island
Journal of Biogeography
Volume 40, Issue 10, pages 1961–1970, October 2013
1. Elizabeth Everman*,
2. Paul Klawinski

Department of Biology, William Jewell College, Liberty, MO, USA
* Correspondence and present address: Elizabeth Everman, 116 Ackert Hall, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66502, USA.
Article first published online: 11 JUN 2013
Abstract
Aim
The coqui frog (Eleutherodactylus coqui) was introduced to the Hawai'ian archipelago in the late 1980s and became established as a widespread species on Hawai'i Island over a short timespan, suggesting that humans are facilitating their movement. To determine the importance of human facilitation, we assessed dispersal patterns and genetic structure of coqui populations using microsatellite data.
Location
Hawai'i Island.
Methods
We obtained genotype data using seven microsatellites from coqui specimens collected from 25 populations on Hawai'i Island. The dispersal mechanism was examined using a Mantel test in GenAlEx and a genetic distance tree analysis in Phylip. Allelic diversity, measures of equilibrium, and genetic structure were analysed in GenAlEx and Arlequin. The correlation between genetic distance and geographical distance was used to distinguish between diffusion dispersal (positive correlation) and jump dispersal (zero or negative correlation).
Results
The Mantel test for isolation by distance found no significant correlation between genetic and geographical distance (r2 = 0.002, P = 0.4401). The genetic distance tree topology is consistent with this result and exhibited a pattern expected if population establishment occurred through jump dispersal. Migration rates were high (NM = 4.228), inbreeding was high, genetic differentiation between populations was low, and significant genetic structure was detected among populations (4% of total variation, P < 0.002).
Main conclusions
Genetic distance is not correlated with geographical distance, suggesting that humans are important facilitators of coqui dispersal. Migration rate was high, indicating that the rapid expansion of coquies on Hawai'i Island was human-facilitated, while high levels of inbreeding and significant genetic structure suggest low post-establishment dispersal. If this is the case, early detection of coqui populations will be crucial for management due to their propensity to be spread through human-facilitated jump dispersal, followed by slow rates of diffusion dispersal from these newly established populations.
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3) Mechanisms of competition between tadpoles of Australian frogs (Litoria spp.) and invasive cane toads (Rhinella marina)
Freshwater Biology
Online Version published 9/13/13 at
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 ... 5/abstract
1. Elisa Cabrera-Guzmán*,
2. Michael R. Crossland,
3. Richard Shine

School of Biological Sciences A08, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
*Correspondence: Elisa Cabrera-Guzmán, School of Biological Sciences A08, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. E-mail: elicabguz@hotmail.com

Summary
1. Cane toads (Rhinella marina) have wrought considerable ecological damage during their invasion of tropical Australia, spurring the search for novel ways to reduce toad numbers.
2. Previous laboratory and field studies have shown that the tadpoles of native frogs, which often co-occur with toad tadpoles in temporary waterbodies, compete with the invaders and can suppress their survival, growth and development.
3. Understanding the mechanisms responsible for that competitive suppression might suggest new ways to control toads: for example, a chemical produced by native tadpoles that disrupts toad development.
4. Our laboratory experiments confirm that toad tadpoles are negatively affected by the presence of tadpoles of three native hylid frogs (Litoria caerulea, Litoria longipes and Litoria splendida) and identify direct exploitative competition for food as the primary mechanism. Manipulations of chemical cues and visual cues in the water had no significant effects on the viability of toads, whereas manipulations of direct physical contact and food supply relative to tadpole density had strong effects.
5. The lack of chemically mediated interference competition may reflect the very short timescale of sympatry between the invader and native taxa, restricting opportunities for the evolution of such mechanisms.
6. Re-introducing native anurans to anthropogenically degraded sites (especially those where local frogs previously occurred, but have been lost) may provide a simple and effective way to reduce the recruitment rate of invasive cane toads.

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4) 850 Snakes Found In Animal Control Officer's Garage In Long Island
Ben Yaksa, 9/19/13- Gothamist-What would you do if you walked into a garage and found 850 snakes? Thankfully, it's a scenario none of us will have to face now that authorities have wrangled 850 snakes from the garages of an Animal Control Officer on Long Island.
Richard Parinello, 44, is facing multiple charges of owning the pythons and violating town codes by running a business at his home and without a permit after investigators found the treasure trove of reptiles earlier today. Parinello had claimed earlier this year that he could not work because of carpal tunnel syndrome in his hands and wrists.
He was under investigation for workers' compensation fraud when officials discovered he was allegedly selling the snakes, including two 6-foot Burmese pythons, which are illegal in New York. Appropriately, Newsday reports there were two trucks parked in Parinello's driveway with vanity license plates with the words "SNAKEVAN" and "SSSSNAKE."
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5) Turtle Eye Muscle Adapts to Deal With Obstructed Vision
Sep. 19, 2013- Science News— In a recent study published in The Journal of Comparative Neurology, Saint Louis University professor of pharmacological and physiological science Michael Ariel, Ph.D., reported surprising findings about the eye movements of pond turtles who can retract their head deep into their shell. While researchers expected that the pond turtle's eyes would operate like other animals with eyes on the side of their heads, this particular species of turtle appears to have characteristics of both front and side-eyed animals, affecting a specific eye muscle's direction of pull and the turtle's eye position when its peripheral vision is blocked by its shell.
Humans, and many mammals like cats and monkeys, have their eyes viewing forward. In contrast, most lower vertebrates, including turtles, have eyes that are lateral -- on the side of their heads. Of the six muscles that move each eye, the muscles that move lateral eyes differ from the muscles of animals that move eyes viewing forward. In an earlier study, Ariel and his research team made an unexpected observation that a nerve that moves one of the pond turtle's eye muscles, the superior oblique muscle, was active when that turtle moved its head from side to side, much like that of animals whose eyes view forward .
In the current study, Ariel and the research team tested his theory that the pond turtle had characteristics of a front-eyed animal in three ways: physiologically, looking at the eye movement response to nerve stimulation; anatomically, examining how muscles were attached to the eyes and head; and behaviorally, examining eye positions.
And, indeed, the researchers found that a turtle pulls its eyes in different directions when its head is out of its shell compared to when its head is retracted deep within its shell. Because the pond turtle can pull its head entirely into its shell, resulting in an obstructed field of vision, it appears that this turtle has developed a way to compensate and direct its eyes forward to best examine its environment. Moreover, the superior oblique muscle may play a role in this behavior as its direction of pull is more like that of a front-eyed animal than that of animals with eyes on the side of their heads.
Eye movements are related to the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR), a reflex whose brain pathways are also studied by Ariel. The VOR allows your eyes to adjust their position when you move your head. For example, when you turn your head to the right, your eyes move to the left to keep the image you're looking at within your field of view. The VOR also is a clinical test used to check eye reflexes in people. When this process is not working, people can experience vertigo, for example.
Ariel, who has studied pond turtles for 25 years, says they are unique among all animals because they block their peripheral vision by pulling their heads into their shell. "Not all turtles can do this. A sea turtle, for example, cannot pull its head into its shell. We expected that pond turtles would be like other turtles and other lateral eye animals" said Ariel. "That wasn't the case. Surprising, their eye movements can also be like that of humans."
Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by Saint Louis University Medical Center.
Journal Reference:
1. J.R. Dearworth, A.L. Ashworth, J.M. Kaye, D.T. Bednarz, J.F. Blaum, J.M. Vacca, J.E. McNeish, K.A. Higgins, C.L. Michael, M.G. Skrobola, M.S. Jones, M. Ariel. Role of the trochlear nerve in eye abduction and frontal vision of the red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans). Journal of Comparative Neurology, 2013; 521 (15): 3464 DOI: 10.1002/cne.23361
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6) Three New Species of Tiny Frogs from the Remarkable Region of Papua New Guinea

Sep. 20, 2013 — Three new species of tiny frogs from Papua New Guinea are described in the latest issue of Zookeys. Dr Fred Kraus, University of Michigan, who in 2011 in Zookeys described the world's smallest frogs Paedophryne dekot and Paedophryne verrucosa, now adds another 3 species from the genus Oreophryne to the remarkable diversity of this region.

The three new species Oreophryne cameroni, Oreophryne parkopanorum and Oreophryne gagneorum are all rather minute, with total body lengths of around 20 mm. These tiny frogs, however are still substantially larger than the species that claimed the smallest frog prize in 2011. Paedophryne dekot and Paedophryne verrucosa are only half of the length of the three new additions to the frog diversity of Papua New Guinea, with an astonishingly small body size ranging between 8-9 mm.

The subfamily to which the new species belong is largely restricted to New Guinea and its satellite islands. Of the constituent genera, Oreophryne is presently one of the largest within the Papuan Region.

"Although the description of the new species treated herein now brings to seven the number of Oreophryne species reported from the north-coast region of New Guinea, the presence from these areas of additional specimens of uncertain identity suggests that additional species likely await description," explains Dr Kraus about the diversity of the genus within the region. "I have at least a dozen more new Oreophryne species remaining to be described from this region, and large portions of this terrane system remain unsurveyed."

The above story is based on materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

Fred Kraus. Three new species of Oreophryne (Anura, Microhylidae) from Papua New Guinea. ZooKeys, 2013; 333: 93 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.333.5795

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7) Snakes on a Plain (A Journalist's Tour of Rattlesnake Roundups)
By Holly Wall, 09.18.13 posted on ThisLandpress.com
Originally published in This Land, Volume 4, Issue 17, 9/1/13
(Go to http://thislandpress.com/09/18/2013/sna ... ce=message and see the close-up photo of a rattlesnake with its mouth sewn shut. Yep roundups provide a great educational service.)

I stood shaking in the center of a wooden 9-by-12-foot pit, surrounded on all sides by about 250 western diamondback rattlesnakes.
“Just be still, and stay calm,” a man in a black cowboy hat reassured me.
Teddy Richey and his son T.J., from Thackerville, Oklahoma, are members of the Outlaw Handlers. They travel to small-town rattlesnake roundups in Oklahoma and Texas with their stunt show, at once educating and astounding festival-goers with feats of bravery that involve live, sometimes agitated (sometimes nearly dead), rattlesnakes. Their ringleader is Mike Darrow. He wears a black cowboy hat, too, but he’s shorter and trimmer than Teddy, his tan face accessorized by wide, wire-framed glasses and a neat gray mustache.
Mike’s the one who got me into this mess, and he’s the one who was sliding coiled rattlesnakes toward me and arranging them at my feet. He carefully rested their rattles against the toes of my too-thin leather boots.
I glanced down at the snakes coiled around my feet. Their rattles hummed against my shoes. Then something, ever so lightly, brushed against the back of my knee.
“I won’t let them strike,” Mike promised me, reading the fear on my face. Another handler, the only woman on the team, took photos with my phone.
I stood as still as I could, doing my best to breathe and act relaxed. At the same time I was scared that my breath would cause a shift in my hips or ankles, a welcoming gesture for a snake just waiting to sink its fangs.
Once the snakes settled around my feet—six of them circled me—T.J. wrapped what he promised was a non-poisonous snake around my shoulders. Either end rested in the crooks between my thumbs and forefingers, and I held it gently as it stared into my eyes, flicking its forked tongue.
I glanced down at the snakes coiled around my feet. Their rattles hummed against my shoes. Then something, ever so lightly, brushed against the back of my knee. I didn’t move—stopped breathing, even. My heart pounded.
“I’m done,” I said. “Get me out of here.”
* * *
Small towns in Oklahoma build their yearly festivals upon whatever gimmick happens to be native, in one way or another, to the area. In Porter, it’s peaches; in Stilwell, it’s strawberries; in Prague, it’s the Bohemian treat kolaches; and in southwestern Oklahoma, where the dry, desert ecosystem seems worlds away, despite being a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Green Country, it’s rattlesnakes.
Oklahoma is home to seven species of venomous snakes, five of which are rattlesnakes. The western diamondback and prairie rattlesnakes are most common, and they’re the ones, especially the former, that hunters are after. Western massasauga, pigmy, and timber (known locally as velvet-tail) rattlesnakes are also native to Oklahoma,though they’re becoming increasingly rare. Cottonmouth and copperhead snakes are the other venomous species native to the state, more common in the east.
The western diamondback and prairie rattlesnakes prefer the dry, rocky grasslands of western Oklahoma. They make their homes in the gypsum bluffs, slithering behind and underneath rock that juts from the hills to make their dens, which they share with up to 100 other snakes. Around October, when nighttime temperatures begin to drop below 50 degrees, they retreat to their dens, where they stay until they can feel the rocks above them begin to warm under the sun’s rays, usually in March. But they’re known to take advantage of a warm winter day, to slither out onto a rock to sun themselves. That’s when they fall prey to birds, coyotes, and mountain lions—and to hunters.
Farmers and ranchers in Okeene—in Blaine County, about 90 minutes west and north of Oklahoma City—hunted snakes decades before someone got the bright idea to build a festival around the practice. Men used shotguns and women garden hoes, and together, they’d scour their land for snakes, ridding it, their cattle, and their children of the threat of the creatures’ deadly venom. If they killed a really big one, they might hang it up on the side of their wagon or truck and drive into town to show it off.
In the 1930s, Orville van Goelker, publicity manager for the Okeene Milling Company, saw a group gathered around a pickup truck in town one day. In the bed was a large, dead rattlesnake. Van Goelker thought he could draw an even bigger crowd with a live snake or two. So he, along with the rest of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, of which he just happened to be the president, organized the town’s first rattlesnake roundup in 1939.
They kept it small, Anthony Felder told me, because they weren’t sure what kind of trouble they might be getting into. Anthony is 84 and the unofficial Okeene Rattlesnake Roundup historian. He zipped over to me on a borrowed motorized scooter on the first Sunday in May, the last day of this year’s festival. He saw me browsing old photographs of roundups past and offered to tell me the stories that went along with the pictures. He remembers the first rattlesnake festival—his dad was one of the snake-hunting locals. A few years later, when Anthony turned 14, he was, too.
The Jaycees shot for an attendance of 250 for their second festival. When they topped that number—and no one was fanged—they added attractions to draw larger crowds. Within five years, they were making a profit and pumping money back into the town via community service projects. Throughout the 1950s and‘60s, they attracted crowds upwards of 25,000.
Okeene claims—and so far, no one’s refuted it— to be the oldest rattlesnake roundup in the country. Today, there are six festivals in Oklahoma, and several more in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico. Okeene’s Jaycees helped several other Oklahoma towns get their festivals up and running.
In Okeene I perused the vendors’ booths, the carnival games, and the rides. I bought a raffle ticket from the Blue Star Mothers and scarfed a loaded cheeseburger before I made my way toward a blue metal barn, where I was told I’d find the snakes. I gave a guy about my age five dollars and let him clumsily wrap a hot-pink paper bracelet around my right wrist. Hand-painted signs warned me of the danger ahead, inside the Den of Death.
The moment my foot hit the barn’s dusty threshold and my nostrils filled with snake stench, the symphony of a hundred buzzing rattles was interrupted by a long, shrill scream.
A gaggle of teenage girls crowded around a bloodied butcher station, where teenage and 20-something locals were processing snake meat. It would be bagged and sold, raw or battered and deep-fried, to hungry and adventurous festivalgoers in five-dollar baskets.
The station began at a blood-splattered tree stump. The young guys doing the bulk of the dirty work were letting some giggling girls, with their heavy eye shadow and short shorts, chop off the heads. A kid in a blue T-shirt and ball cap pinned the snake to the stump and waited for one of the girls, still standing a safe three feet away from the thing, to swing an axe at a spot just behind its head. Every girl, every time, would swing, scream, drop the axe, and run.
Hand-painted signs warned me of the danger ahead, inside the Den of Death.
Each swing lacked the conviction required to take a life, so the snake’s head dangled, hanging on by a thread of skin and meat. Its body writhed while the boy tried to talk the girl into finishing the job. She couldn’t, or wouldn’t, so he’d strike the final blow, letting the head hit the floor while he passed the body, still squirming, to another boy standing over a metal trashcan, which was bloodstained enough to be used as a horror movie prop. Painted on the side were a couple of snakes and the words “BUTCHER SHOP.”
The boy slid a pair of utility scissors into the cavity where the head once was, slicing the skin along the snake’s belly in a straight line as blood fell into the trashcan. Reaching inside the snake, he pulled out a long sac containing the snake’s entrails and tossed it on a table nearby, where a handful of eggs, a gall bladder, and a still-beating heart attracted plenty of attention from other attendees. Another kid affixed one of the severed heads onto the side of a Styrofoam cup, holding it high for folks taking photos
Once the guts were out, the guy pulled the snake’s skin away from the white, almost translucent, meat beneath. Working slowly at first, then building speed and momentum, he tore off the entire skin at once, leaving it intact and still attached to the rattle. He cut the snake from the last bit of skin and hung the skin to dry, next to about a dozen others, on a string of clothesline. Later it would be rolled up and sold.
The meat passed to a more pristine area of the butcher shop, where it smelled of bleach and there wasn’t a drop of blood in sight. There, a plastic-gloved girl was portioning the snake, chopping it with a cleaver into several three- or four-inch pieces.
I first tasted snake meat a couple of weeks earlier, at the Waynoka Rattlesnake Hunt. My boyfriend, my kids, and I were first in line when the call rang out that meat was ready. We paid $10 for two portions of rattlesnake—one battered and chicken fried, the other smoked.
The first big bite of fried rattlesnake was a mouthful of bones. I searched with my tongue for any smidgen of meat. When I found it, after spitting several tiny bones back into the Styrofoam bowl, it was tough and nearly impossible to chew. The meat itself didn’t have much flavor—it certainly didn’t taste like chicken, which was what we’d been promised. The closest thing I could compare it to was alligator meat (no offense to alligators).
A kid in a blue t-shirt and ball cap pinned the snake to the stump and waited for one of the girls, still standing a safe three feet away from the thing, to swing an axe at a spot just behind its head.
The smoked snake was tender and easier to eat, but it had the imitation flavor of Liquid Smoke. The third bite tasted rancid, like the stuff my mom put on my fingernails when I was a kid to get me to stop sucking my thumb. After that, I didn’t eat any more, but the fellas with me polished off what was left. My sons liked it enough that they probably would have eaten more, and they were certainly hungry enough, but I suggested we get a corndog at the carnival instead.
* * *
The butcher shop in Okeene is the kind of thing that has folks like Ned Bruha and members of Rise Against Rattlesnake Roundups pressing local law enforcement to put an end to what they call felony animal abuse. Their objections are many: Rattlesnake season is March 1 through June 30, but many hunters admit to venturing out on a warm winter day, catching more snakes than they would in the spring. A snake caught in mid-December will likely spend the months leading up to April and May’s festivals in a bucket, box, or burlap bag—without food or water.
Once the snakes make it to the festival, they’re hungry, fatigued, and dehydrated. If they’re taken to the festivals in Apache or Mangum—or, until this year, Waurika— they might be one of the few chosen to entertain guests of the festival’s photo booth. With that honor comes the painful process of fang removal and mouth sewing, a guarantee of safety to the folks willing to fork over five dollars for a souvenir photo.
Bruha and others have beseeched local law enforcement, county and state officials, representatives of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife, the state attorney general, and the governor in hopes that someone will intervene and end the practice. So far, they’ve been unsuccessful. Bruha even sent a letter to President Obama, only to receive a generic form reply.
The festivals generate $5,000 to $35,000 annually for the organizations that host them—either the Jaycees, who use part of the profits to purchase schools supplies and Christmas gifts for needy children, or the local volunteer fire department, which wouldn’t have equipment or supplies without its local festival. Ten times as much money gets pumped into the local economy by visitors who also eat, sleep, and pump gas within city limits. Because of that, and because, in Bible-reading, cattle- ranching Oklahoma, snakes are considered the devil incarnate, no one minds too much when a few of them get their mouths sewn shut—or a few hundred find their way to slaughterhouses.
“Although a rattlesnake is not as cute and cuddly as a dog, Oklahoma animal cruelty statutes do not differentiate,” Bruha wrote in a letter to Attorney General Scott Pruitt when he filed a citizen’s complaint with the multicounty grand jury division. “Using pliers to remove the fangs, sewing a rattlesnake’s mouth shut, and depriving them of food and water is a felony in Oklahoma. You and the rest of Oklahoma lawmakers and law enforcement have ignored thousands of requests from around the world asking you to enforce existing Oklahoma laws.”
Oklahoma categorizes rattlesnakes as animals— not pests or rodents, like Texas does—so the state’s animal cruelty laws apply. Those laws say: “Any person who shall willfully or maliciously overdrive, overload, torture, destroy or kill, or cruelly beat or injure, maim or mutilate, any animal in subjugation or captivity… shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary not exceeding five (5) years, or by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one (1) year, or by a fine not exceeding Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00).”
Bruha hasn’t had any luck getting anyone to enforce the law when it comes to rattlesnakes. Patrick Abitbol said no one cares about rattlesnakes enough to care whether they’re protected from cruelty. Abitbol is a retired assistant district attorney whose relentless pursuit of justice for abused women, children, and animals earned him the nickname “Pit Bull.” He has volunteered to advise Bruha and others in their pursuit of justice.
“My feeling is that it will end; we’re just not at the public opinion stage of accomplishing anything,” Abitbol said. “I don’t believe anything will resolve itself until the public itself has an outcry that this is not acceptable behavior. There’s no reason for it. You would no more allow a dog to have its mouth sewn shut, even if you were going to euthanize it tomorrow. There’s no purpose.”
They don’t put an end to it because it’s too profitable for the small towns they represent, and they say that if they interfere, they’ll be out of a job.
Joe Dorman, a state representative and the recipient of many of Bruha’s pleas, has, off and on for years, worked in the snake pit at the Apache Rattlesnake Roundup. He lauds the event as an educational and economic opportunity. Only a couple of the snakes’ mouths are sewn shut, and in the end, they’re slaughtered, and their meat, skin, and entrails are sold. “Every part of the snake used,” he said. “The organs are ground and used for spices in Asian culture. It’s no different than any other animal production.
“I think there’s some misunderstanding with what happens at hunts,” he continued. “It’s about getting out and understanding the culture. But there have been some concerns, and we’re taking steps to address those issues. Hopefully, there can be an agreement reached so there is no animal cruelty issue at these festivals.”
In 1988, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, which has since refused or ignored Bruha’s requests to take action against the festivals, issued a report on the rattlesnake roundups, calling “crowding and water deprivation of snakes captured several weeks prior to the events”—which results in suffocation for many—and the defanging and mouth-sewing, plus the treatment of the snakes at the butcher shops, cruel. “Sewing is no doubt done with the animal fully conscious and undoubtedly is a painful, traumatic process for the snake,” the report stated. Bruha claims some festival officials have admitted to placing the snakes in a freezer for 15 or so minutes before sewing their mouths shut, to slow them down a bit.
Bruha said many of the law enforcement and elected officials he petitioned admitted to him that some of what is happening at the roundups is cruel and, yes, illegal. But they don’t put an end to it because it’s too profitable for the small towns they represent, and they say that if they interfere, they’ll be out of a job.
* * *
In Claxton, Georgia, organizers of the Claxton Rattlesnake Roundup have stopped catching and killing wild snakes. They’ve reinvented their event as a wildlife festival and use captive snakes from local zoos to provide an educational event. John Jensen, senior wildlife biologist for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, told the Savannah Morning News that the decision came after “years and years of pressure” from several local groups. “For eastern diamondbacks, the biggest threat is habitat loss,” he told the paper. “But then you tack on that they’re killed by anybody who sees them and harvested for roundups and harvested for skins. Another main thing is these events contribute to passing along to younger people the idea that wildlife should be treated this way. People should recognize they’re potentially dangerous, but they’re part of the ecosystem.”
Bruha and others would like to see the roundups in Oklahoma make a similar change, and they say the events would still be as profitable for the local economies—if not the snake sellers—if they made the roundups no-kill.
“I do not consider myself an animal rights activist whatsoever, but the animals still deserve better,” Bruha said.
In Waurika, where I was charmed into the snake pit, the roundup is organized by and benefits the volunteer fire department. This year was the first in 52 that they didn’t sew snakes’ mouths shut. The activists got to them, Stephen Dyer told me. They were tired of being bothered, said the town’s only paid firefighter, and they decided it wasn’t worth it.
In Waurika, rattlesnake roundups have paid for two new pumper trucks for the fire department, as well as a new tanker and a new grass rig.“We’re as big as Duncan,” Rickey Porterfield boasted from the driver’s seat of his white pickup. Earlier, the volunteer firefighter and snake hunter took me to a spot of private land, 700 acres’ worth, about four miles outside of town, where a group of festivalgoers hunted for rattlers. We stopped by the town’s fire department to see its shiny new trucks. Rickey, a big guy with a wild mane of curly white-gray hair, is one of 17 volunteer firefighters in Waurika. He’s been on the job for 21 years; he’ll retire in two. When he does, he’ll likely retire from rattlesnake hunting as well.
Rickey had his first experience with fire in the 1970s, before he joined the department. There was a three-building fire on Main Street, and one of the firefighters grabbed him and told him to hold the water cannon. He figures he sat on it for eight or nine hours. He wasn’t scared then, he said, and fire doesn’t scare him now. “Fire’s a lot like rattlesnakes,” he told me on the way back to the festival’s main drag. “You’ve gotta respect ‘em.”
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