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Herpetology

Research Internships

There are usually 1-2 openings for post-baccalaureate research interns in Herpetology each year. The duration of the internships is typically 6-7 months, beginning in April or May. Research interns can expect to be full participants in Dr. Rothermel’s research group, taking part in lab meetings and supporting both herpetology- and restoration ecology-related projects as part of their regular duties. For their independent research, interns are encouraged to complete a thorough literature review on their topic, develop testable hypotheses, and incorporate a feasible experimental component into their project.

Internship openings and application requirements are posted here and on the following websites:

Recent intern projects

Effect of time since fire on larval performance and recruitment in Oak Toads (May-Dec 2012) – Clay Noss (University of Florida) examined growth and survival of larval Oak Toads in experimental enclosures in 12 seasonal ponds varying from recently burned (within the last 4 months) to long-unburned (11 years). He measured water chemistry and other environmental variables that might account for differences in larval survival among ponds.

Social aggregation and boldness in the Gopher Tortoise (May-Dec 2012) – Kevin Moses (Howard University) measured behavioral responses of adult Gopher Tortoises to a novel object (i.e., a burrow scope) to test whether “boldness” of individuals varied as a function of their spatial location within a colony.

Initial survey of Gopher Tortoise burrows and commensals in isolated scrub habitat in cattle pasture (Sept-Nov 2011) – Susan Caster (University of Georgia) described the density and size structure of a Gopher Tortoise population in a cattle pasture on the Archbold Reserve. She also used wildlife cameras to record tortoise behavior and frequency of burrow use by other vertebrates.

Microhabitat preference and burrowing ability of juvenile Oak Toads (Sept 2009-March 2010) – Zach Forsburg (Shippensburg University) used field enclosures to investigate whether juvenile Oak Toads show a preference for scrub microhabitats representing fire frequencies of 2-3 years, 6-9 years, and 10-19 years. He also examined the burrowing ability of juvenile Oak Toads in relation to soil moisture and other environmental cues, including the sound of fire.

Using wildlife video cameras to monitor Gopher Tortoises and vertebrate commensals (Sept 2009-March 2010) – José Lopez (SUNY-ESF) examined the utility of an inexpensive remote sensing video camera for monitoring activity of adult Gopher Tortoises and burrow commensals. He documented wintertime reproductive activity of tortoises and observed 25 species of vertebrates visiting or using Gopher Tortoise burrows at Avon Park Air Force Range.

Distribution of invasive Cuban Treefrogs at Archbold Biological Station (Sept 2009-March 2010) – Naima Phillips (Lewis & Clark College) used an array of PVC pipe refugia to study the spatial distribution of the invasive Cuban Treefrog relative to native treefrog species during the nonbreeding season.

Post-baccalaureate intern, Clay Noss, checking experimental enclosures
Graduate intern, Zach Forsburg, sampling a pond on the Reserve
Post-baccalaureate intern, José Lopez, scoping a tortoise burrow