Blogs

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Herpetology Lunch Begins for Fall Term

herpetology lunch group

We are having a great start with our Friday Herpetology Lunch meetings for the Fall term. Our lunch on Friday, August 29th included 18 individuals representing seven countries (USA, Brazil, India, Malaysia, China/Tibet, Ecuador, Taiwan). Curator Rich Glor discussed how to assist with development of the division's new website and curatorial assistant Matt Buehler shared some examples of problematic specimens recovered during an assessment of the snake collection.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Snake Skin Identification Challenge

Shed

Shed

A friend of KU Herpetology in the Endowment office would like to know if we have any thoughts on the identify of the snake whose shed skin was found by some kids heading into a hole near her garage. The sender notes that while the images are reasonably well-lit and in-focus compared to the photos we usually receive that the basket weave chair may have been included to challenge us. Best guess wins a point in the KU Center for Herpetological Accuracy's Annual herp identification contest.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Herpetology Hosts K State REU Students

K State Tour

On Thursday, July 10th, KU Herpetology curator Rich Glor hosted a field trip by undergraduate students in the Kansas State Summer REU program under the direction of Drs. Bruce Snyder and Ted Morgan. The long-running K State REU program is analagous to KU's own REU program in ecology and evolutionary biology and has seen completion of a range of interesting undergraduate projects and publications, many relating to biodiversity science.  The members of the K State proved an impressive and engaged group with plenty of good questions. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Using Art to Understand Forests

Ever since Steve Goddard, KU’s Spencer Art Museum, introduced me to Sunprints during our 2011 field class at the CICRA Biological Station, I have incorporated this art/science activity with subsequent classes. Sun-printing, developed by 19th century artists, uses the sun’s UV rays to make prints of objects on photographic paper. [UC Berkeley sells convenient kits].

After a morning of tough high-elevation hiking and a rich lunch of quinoa soup, we needed a quieter diversion. My kit had 15 sheets, enough for my KU students as well as others conducting research here. Each person collected some leaves and flowers and spent a few minutes designing their layout. Then we got to “printing”, essentially exposing the plate to sun for ~4-6 mins.

The end-product is beautiful and frame-able. Indeed, some appeared in our 2012 Spencer exhibition, http://www.spencerart.ku.edu/exhibitions/39-trails.shtml. This fun art/science exercise opens various discussions, e.g., about sunlight traveling down through forest layers* and leaf morphology**. No winner of our competition was selected since we could not agree on a single most beautiful plate from so many.

– Caroline Chaboo

* John A. Endler. 1993. The Color of Light in Forests and Its Implications. Ecological Monographs Vol. 63, No. 1, pp. 1-27.

** AP Coble, MA Cavleri. 2014. Light drives vertical gradients of leaf morphology in a sugar maple (Acer saccharum) forest. Tree Physiology 02/2014; DOI:10.1093/treephys/tpt126