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Herp Research

My current research primarily focuses on wetland restoration and the ecology of two rare amphibians of the Gulf Coastal Plain, reticulated flatwoods salamanders and Florida bog frogs.  We are interested in understanding the role of fire in wetland systems embedded in the longleaf pine ecosystem and methods to restore this habitat for rare amphibians using fire and/or surrogates.


Wetland habitat restoration

In collaboration with Dr. Carola Haas, Dr. John Himes (Florida FWC), Bruce Hagedorn (Jackson Guard, Eglin AFB), and Kathy Gault (Jackson Guard, Eglin AFB) we have started a long-term project to investigate methods to restore fire-suppressed flatwoods wetlands that have potential to be used as breeding wetlands by Reticulated Flatwoods Salamanders and other rare amphibians.  The primary goals of this research are to examine the:

1. Effects of a suite of wetland restoration techniques to improve the management of breeding habitat for Reticulated Flatwoods Salamanders.
2. Role of breeding habitat degradation in the decline of Reticulated Flatwoods Salamanders.


Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander
In addition to our habitat restoration work we are increasing our efforts to understand the breeding ecology and population dynamics of flatwoods salamanders.  We are evaluating the:

1. Population status at breeding wetlands

2. Movements of adult and metamorph salamanders to and from the breeding wetlands

3. Relationship between adult visitation and larval occupancy

4. Long-term monitoring of larval occupancy and hydroperiod.


Florida Bog Frog

Projects still underway:

1. Role of fire on the riparian breeding habitat used by Florida Bog Frogs.

2. Macrohabitat characteristics at breeding sites used by bog frogs.
3. Range-wide and stream-level scale occupancy of Florida Bog Frogs on Eglin Air Force Base.


Completed projects:

1. Microhabitat relationships between Florida bog Frogs and bronze Frogs.
2. Competitive interactions between Florida Bog Frog and Bronze Frog tadpoles.


Gopher Tortoise research

In collaboration with colleagues at Virginia Tech (primarily Steve Goodman, Carola Haas, Lori Blanc and Kelly Jones) and Jackson Guard, in 2010 we initiated a long-term monitoring program for Gopher Tortoises on Eglin Air Force Base.

River Otter Research

The objectives of this research were to document survival and cause-specific mortality of river otters in order to assess the plausibility of a legal trapping season.  Also, we documented the habitat characteristics of river otter natal den sites, and examined the effects of sex and age on size, fidelity, and overlap of river otter home ranges.  Currently, I am collaborating with Danny Martin, Dr. Brock McMillan, and Dr. John Erb on aerial snow-tracking methods and habitat selection of river otters.