Friday, December 11, 2009

Outdoor Alabama Species Profiles - We Need Your Help!!!!

As many of you may have noticed, ALAPARC has partnered with Outdoor Alabama by linking their fact sheets for Alabama amphibian and reptile species to our website ( Fact sheets like these seem simple, but they're one of the first lines of defense we have in combating a lack of basic herp awareness in our state, and this can have effects that cascade down to combating species declines, habitat mismanagement, and a whole host of other conservation issues.

But, as many of you may have also noticed, more than a few of those fact sheets are lacking information (like this one: Partnerships obviously run both ways, so ALAPARC would like to give back to Outdoor Alabama by completing these fact sheets - and this is where you come in.

Are you the world's leading expert on Coal Skinks? Has your spouse or significant other ever commented on your unhealthy fascination with Fowler's Toads? Does the mere mention of a chorus of Scaphiopus elevate you to a perverse level of excitement? If your answer to any or all of these questions is yes, then we need your help. Many of the fact sheets we have online have been written by experts, and we're hoping to continue that trend. "Expert" is always a relative term, of course, so don't be shy about contributing even if you're not the world's best researcher on any given species. As long as you're committed to summarizing reliable info on a species in a digestible format for the public and dig herps, we need you. Go to the Outdoor Alabama website, browse the species, and see which ones are lacking info. If you see that "your" species is missing info, then you're the person we're looking for. The fact sheets we're looking to put together will follow the format at this link.

So, if you're interested, shoot Wally Smith an email at and he can give you info on how to help out. Putting a fact sheet together doesn't take much time at all, can be fun (believe it or not), and is an amazingly simple way to give back to Alabama's herps by providing the public with easy-to-digest, helpful information.

Monday, November 30, 2009

ALAPARC Flickr page now online

Can't get your fix of herps during dead-time this winter? Check out ALAPARC's new Flickr page, where you can have access to a full selection of visual treats involving Alabama herps.

Spread the word, and consider contributing photos yourself! We currently have photos contributed from the likes of Dave Steen, Heather Cunningham, Matt Greene, and Ken Dodd...but we'd love more! You can email photos (with a short caption for each) to or

Monday, November 16, 2009

ALAPARC now on Facebook

ALAPARC now has a Facebook page! If you have a Facebook profile, go check it out, become a fan, and even feel free to add some photos or start a discussion!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Send us your pics!!!

Do you have outstanding, high quality photos of herps, their habitat (pristine or mangled), management activities, or herp-related events in Alabama? We need them! ALAPARC is building a Flickr page to archive our visual goings-on in the state and to keep the public and unknowing passers-by informed of what our group is doing. This will be an easy way to increase public interest in the group and "spread the word" of herp conservation in the state. But we need your help...., if you have Flickr-worthy photos that you'd like to contribute, send them to or (limit two per person, please. Once the site is established, we'll call for more). Please include your name, where the photo was taken, the date, and any other relevant information (species in the photo, descriptions of interesting natural history observations, etc.). All photographers will be given credit for their respective photos, and we'll be using them with your permission, of course. Send us your best!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

ALAPARC Hellbender Initiative

In addition to the official initiative site here, Readers will now be able to hear of ALAPARC's Hellbender Initiative via this blog.

In many states where hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) were once common, drastic declines have occurred, and this salamander is now one of the most imperiled amphibians in North America. Museum collections indicate hellbenders once occurred in many drainages in northern Alabama, however, the last verified record of a living hellbender in this state was in 1990 (see below).

The purpose of this initiative is to generate voluntary interest from experienced herpetologists in Alabama to determine the current range and status of Alabama hellbenders. Early thoughts on how this could easily and cheaply be accomplished are:

1. A request for possible unverified or unpublished reports of hellbenders to develop a database of all known collection records; this request will be channeled through an existing hellbender information-sharing website.

2. An adopt-a-stream program to pool effort among interested volunteers; each individual will devote at least four sampling occasions per year for at least one historic hellbender collection site.

3. A bioblitz competition in which individuals with experience trapping or collecting hellbenders—as well as other interested participants—will be encouraged to document living hellbenders on a competitive basis.

4. Acquisition of funds (grants or donations) to purchase materials for the construction of traps, which can be utilized for determining presence/absence of hellbenders with minimal effort, and could be incorporated into the adopt-a-stream program.

5. Acquisition of funds (grants or donations) to distribute educational materials near bridge crossings and other fishing spots in northern Alabama within the potential range of hellbenders to solicit information and cooperation among locals.

Is this the last Alabama hellbender?

To the left is a photo of the last hellbender found in Alabama in March of 1990.

Have you seen a hellbender recently?

If you've seen a hellbender or caught one while fishing, please report it!

Go to to report hellbender occurrence.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2009 Meeting Summary

You had to be there to experience all the ALAPARC inaugural meeting had to offer, but the co-chairs have attempted a summary:

We held our inaugural meeting on November 6-8 at the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center in Andalusia, Alabama, and we are so pleased with the outcome. Our weekend and our meeting kicked off Friday night at our welcome social, the centerpiece of which was a canoe full of beer, which we contained in biodegradable cups provided by Off The Vine Produce. Participants streamed in as the Red Hills Salamander Discussion Group ended and feasted on delicious quesadillas provided by Karan Bailey. Wild sausage balls a la Stiles were a huge hit. Each of the appetizers were dipped at one point or another in Sean Graham’s tailgater’s delight Hormel Chili cheese dip. Attendees ignored warning signs regarding the relative heat of this dip at their own peril.

Energized by coffee provided by Higher Ground Roasters, Saturday morning’s talks began with a welcome by Co-Chair David Steen, with photos of beautiful environments and imperiled amphibians and reptiles from throughout the state. Our invited speakers gave us inspiration for the conservation road ahead. Among several esteemed individuals, this session included Matt Aresco, who gave an inspiring account of his odyssey to protect turtles in Florida and Alabama. Ken Dodd, who has strived for conservation causes throughout his long tenure in the southeast, provided sobering news regarding the Flattened Musk Turtle and Red Hills Salamander.

Three ALAPARC initiatives were officially announced and a lively discussion of the current status of Alabama hellbenders ensued. It is clear that the gopher frog, hellbender, and education/outreach initiatives will each get underway very soon, and many interested parties have exchanged information and emails to get the ball rolling on the three initiatives. Linda Weir provided a background of the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program and highlighted how Alabama represented a gap in coverage.

Saturday neared conclusion with a simultaneously entertaining and shocking presentation by Michael Bloxom, an Alabama wildlife law enforcement official, who chronicled his years busting bad guys selling illegally collected reptiles. Shawn Jacobsen finished the day with a tribute to George Folkerts, infusing many with a renewed respect for this Alabama conservation champion.

We enjoyed a delicious southern fried seafood feast on Saturday night which was made by the skilled chefs at the Dixon Center and provided by a generous donation by Project Orianne. Many felt the meal alone was worth the price of registration! They were then floored when the beer continued to flow during the official ALAPARC 2009 meeting social and poster session. Thinking caps were donned as those daring enough took part in the first annual ALAPARC lab practical trivia quiz. This crossword-style quiz featured many native Alabama herps and specimens from the Auburn University collection. Knowledge of herp nomenclature wasn’t sufficient to complete this challenge; participants also had to be schooled in the lore of Alabama herpetology, from both sides of the Black Warrior.

The “facultyesque” category was won by Mark Bailey; however, the “student” category was a tie between Bill Sutton and Helen Czech, necessitating a frog call-off tie-breaker with Helen emerging as the winner with an impressive Hyla versicolor trill. Despite George Cline’s protestations that the noise was more accurately described as Hyla chrysoscelis, Helen took home the prize, an ALAPARC t-shirt (available at Later, Bailey’s win was challenged and an impromptu call-off took place between John Jensen, Bailey, and Eric Soehren. Jim Godwin won despite his lack of membership in the contest. Since Jim cheated, Mark retained the crown.

Day three of the meeting was composed of submitted research talks and the audience was thrilled by the diversity of research and conservation efforts in the state. Some of the talks included Thane Wibbels’ report of the past, present, and future of Alabama terrapins, Chris Thawley’s interesting report on niche modeling in non-native frogs, Samantha Collin’s report on canebrake reproduction, and Bill Sutton’s reports on post-fire effects in the Bankhead National Forest, among many other excellent talks. Check out the meeting program for abstracts of all the presentations.

After closing words from Sean, we enjoyed another terrific lunch from the Dixon Center and a group photo. Sadness over leaving was tempered by the hope of good things to come, a renewed sense of purpose, and the prospect of returning next year to be together again and see what we found in our dipnets since we last met.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Now What?

It was greatly encouraging this weekend to see nearly 80 individuals interested in the conservation of Alabama's amphibians and reptiles converge on Andalusia for the inaugural meeting of ALAPARC. Over thirty presentations were delivered on everything from diamondback terrapin biology and conservation along the Alabama coast to the effects of forestry on wildlife assemblages in Bankhead National Forest to the quest to document the status of any remaining hellbenders in the streams along the northern border of the state. It was great to learn about all the different efforts that have are currently underway and inspiring to see so many people working to conserve Alabama's herps.

The challenge is now to harness and sustain the enthusiasm on display this weekend to further advance Alabama amphibian and reptile conservation. Check out our website to learn about our initiatives and consider forming one yourself. Let us know how you would like to get involved.

We hope to see you next year.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Cole

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Inaugural Meeting Starts Tomorrow

Hi all,

Response to our meeting has been great; we now have over 70 people planning to attend. Individuals from Auburn University, Alabama A&M, the University of South Alabama, Jacksonville State University, the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama-Birmingham, the University of Georgia, the University of Florida, the University of Southern Mississippi, the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Alabama Natural Heritage Program, Alabama Reptile Rescue Sanctuary, and the United States Geological Survey-among other organizations and institutions-will deliver some of over thirty scheduled presentations about research, conservation, and education/outreach efforts concerning Alabama’s amphibians and reptiles.

Missed out on our registration deadline? You can still register at the door (although it's too late for private lodging and meals). Send us an e-mail at to let us know your plan.

Hope to see you all this weekend.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Check Out Our Gear

Want to look stylish for our upcoming meeting or just want to show support for our organization? Check out the ALAPARC products offered here, including shirts, coffee mugs, and tote bags. Want us to offer more products? Let us know.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

LAST DAY TO REGISTER-Updated Registrant list provided

As of Friday morning (10/16), there are over 60 registrants. What a great turnout for our inaugural meeting! We look forward to meeting with you all in person this November. Missed the deadline? You can still register without lodging and meals, check out our registration website here.

Missed the deadline but still want lodging and registration? Send us an e-mail at this point we can make no guarantees but we will do what we can to make sure everyone that wants to be here, is here.

Alvin Atlas
Amanda Steen
Andrew Coleman
Ashley Peters
Becky Pearce
Beth Stevenson
Brett Macek
Chris Edmondson
Chris Jenkins
Christina Romagosa
Christoph Thawley
Clay Hilton
Craig Guyer
Dan Self
David Nelson
David Steen
Debbie Folkerts
Dirk Stevenson
Eric Soehren
George Cline
Heidi Cantrell
James Godwin
James McHugh
Jennifer Deitloff
Jennifer Linehan
Jimmy Stiles
Jo Lewis
Jodie Smithem
Joel Borden
John Jensen
Joshua Ennen
Karan Bailey
Kathy Shelton
Kayla Bieser
Keith Tassin
Ken Marion
Kenneth Dodd
Kristin Bakkegard
Kyle Barrett
Laura Underhill
Leslie Rissler
Linda Weir
Margaret Gunzburger
Mark Bailey
Mark Sasser
Matthew Aresco
Megan Gibbons
Michelle Baragona
Molly Folkerts
Nicholas Sharp
Nick Bieser
Roger Clay
Samantha Collins
Sean Graham
Sharon Hermann
Sierra Stiles
Stephen Glasgow
Sydney Chapin
Thane Wibbels
Toni Bruner
Walter Smith

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Amphibian and reptile fact sheets now online

Through a partnership with Alabama DCNR's "Outdoor Alabama," ALAPARC now has amphibian and reptile fact sheets online for each Alabama species (some species info is in progress and will be posted as it is developed). Huge props to Dave and Laura Laurencio for getting things linked up and for being awesome web gurus, in general.

Let us know what you think. Are the fact sheets too technical? Just right? Terrible? Feel free to give us your input on what works, what errors we've overlooked, and what needs improvement.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Want to Come to our Meeting?

Then you need to register by Friday. Our agenda is complete and available here and follow the instructions here to register. Don't miss out on this opportunity to attend our inaugural meeting.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Registration Going Fast

We have almost two weeks before our registration deadline and we're already at about 25% capacity for our meeting facility. This is great news as it indicates considerable interest in our new chapter; however, it also suggests that if you want to ensure a space, you should register soon (especially for any presenters that haven't yet registered!) by following the instructions on this page. Do it today.

Monday, September 21, 2009

UAB Researcher's Turtle Work Featured in The Birmingham News

As co-chair of ALAPARC, it's been gratifying to see plans develop for our November meeting and I'm looking forward to hearing about all the amphibian and reptile conservation and research that's going on in our state.

Today I came across an article (also here) describing Dr. Thane Wibbels' (along with Andy Coleman and Dr. Ken Marion) efforts to conserve the diamondback terrapin at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

I'm excited to note that this team will be at our meeting to discuss their research. Register now to ensure a space.

Dave Steen

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Meeting Presentations

Friday, September 18th was the abstract submission deadline for our November inaugural meeting and we've been overwhelmed by the positive response. Over the coming days and weeks we'll be working on our preliminary agenda and hope to have it complete by the registration deadline of October 15th (Register Here). Want to present something but missed the deadline? Send us an e-mail at; we can't guarantee that we'll be able to fit you in this year but it's worth a shot.

Also, we can accommodate more posters. If you'd like to present a poster this November, send us an abstract and we'll see what we can do.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

One Day Left

Hi all,

If you haven't already submitted your abstract, you've got one day remaining to send it in to Remember, we encourage abstracts from all Alabamians involved in amphibian and reptile research, conservation, education, etc. We are also accepting abstracts for posters. We cannot guarantee you a space if we don't hear from you soon.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Abstract Submission Deadline-One Week Left

Our November meeting is steadily approaching and there's only one week left for abstract submissions. We've been pleased by the number of abstracts we've received so far but we want more! Let us know what you've been up to in Alabama amphibian and reptile research and conservation. We welcome abstracts from state agencies, graduate students, professionals, amateurs, academics, you name it. Submit your abstracts by 9/18 so we can create our preliminary agenda soon.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Website Relaunched

We invite everyone to check out our website now that it has been relaunched with additional information and features. Thanks to David and Laura Laurencio for their work.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Calling All 'Bama Environmental Educators

As part of a collaborative partnership with Legacy Partners in Environmental Education and the University of Alabama, ALAPARC is actively looking for partners for the Alabama Amphibian Network, a statewide citizen science/outreach project. In a nutshell, we're looking for environmental education centers willing to participate in the network by having coverboard arrays and treefrog shelters installed at each center. These are tools used by practicing herpetologists to sample amphibians and will be free for use in amphibian education programs (for a detailed description of the equipment and a similar project, go here). In addition to the coverboards and shelters, we'll provide each center with valuable curriculum materials discussing basic amphibian biology, ecology, and evolution. All we ask in turn is that each EE partner keep a record of animals found during educational programs and report them to the network quarterly. All of these materials and their installation, of course, will be provided completely free of charge.

This project is aimed at two goals: 1.) increasing amphibian outreach and education for all demographic groups across the state, and 2.) gaining a better understanding of amphibian distributions and population trends in Alabama. As an EE center, you get a valuable education tool, and we, as researchers, get valuable data on Alabama's amphibians. Our partners to date include: Camp McDowell Environmental Center, Little River Canyon/JSU Field Schools, and Turtle Point Science Center. We'd love to get as many centers as we can signed on!

If you're interested or have any questions whatsoever, feel free to email Wally Smith at

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Website Manager and Newsletter Editor Positions Filled

Everyone should welcome David and Laura Laurencio of Auburn University to the Alabama Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation team. Both have extensive experience finding and researching herps from the southeastern U.S. through Central America. David and Laura have taken the reins of our website and our newsletter. We look forward to upcoming updates to our website which promise a wealth of new material and information. The newsletter will also be a useful means of disseminating information to our membership, which is growing daily.

Thanks are due to Mark and Karan Bailey for getting the ball rolling on the website and configuring it to accept our meeting registration.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Abstracts Rolling In

Hi all,

As we noted in a previous post, we've already issued a call for abstracts for our inaugural meeting and they are rolling in. We only have a limited amount of space for submitted talks and we are confirming them more or less as they arrive, so submit yours soon. We may encourage you to present a poster depending on how our agenda develops. Send your abstracts to Looking forward to hearing from you and seeing your presentation this fall.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bill Sutton Joins ALAPARC as Secretary

The Alabama Chapter of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation is pleased to announce that Bill Sutton has signed on to serve as our Secretary. Bill is a Ph.D. student at Alabama A&M and is researching how amphibians and reptiles respond to pine-hardwood forest management. Bill brings extensive experience to his new post, as he also serves as Secretary for Southeast PARC. We are looking forward to working with Bill as he helps keep track of all our ongoing efforts, meetings, and initiatives.
Welcome Bill.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

ALAPARC Call for Abstracts for Inaugural Meeting

We are planning our inaugural meeting on November 6-8, 2009 at the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center near Andalusia, Alabama. We will feature a lineup of distinguished speakers to discuss how individuals may facilitate effective conservation in different capacities. To date, confirmed speakers for this event include Whit Gibbons, John Jensen, Craig Guyer, and Matt Aresco. Additional speakers, including Jim Godwin, Jim McHugh, Chris Jenkins and Mark Bailey, will introduce current conservation efforts in Alabama.

Our inaugural meeting will feature presentations (oral and poster) describing research, education, and conservation efforts in the state. We welcome abstracts for consideration; send them to Presentations will be confirmed for the meeting as space allows.

We want to know what you've been up to in Alabama! Submit your abstracts soon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Press Release...Released!

Today is a big day, we disseminated the press release announcing the formation of our chapter as well as inaugural meeting and registration information. We are excited to see how the coming weeks develop.

We will busy in the weeks and months leading up to our meeting. Hopefully more individuals will contact us about getting involved in Alabama Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

About Our Logo

ALAPARC's new logo was created by Nathan Burkett-Cadena. Nathan is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Auburn University studying mosquito ecology and a freelance artist in his spare time. Nathan graciously and enthusiastically agreed to design a logo for our organization and we are proud to display the outcome.

The silhouette is that of an Alabama map turtle, Graptemys pulchra. A rare species known primarily from Alabama rivers, this animal is an especially relevant representation for our organization and our goals.

Thanks to Nathan for his exceptional artwork and the time spent to give ALAPARC a professional and aesthetically pleasing logo.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Member Profile: Mark Bailey

Mark Bailey has been integral to ALAPARC since its inception and has been involved in all aspects of our progress from meeting coordination to website creation and launch. We have been unable to come up with a title that accurately encompasses his contributions so for now he is "only" a member of our steering committee.

Senior Biologist at Conservation Southeast, for nearly ten years Mark was Terrestrial Zoologist for The Nature Conservancy’s Alabama Natural Heritage Program and was lead author on the recently published PARC Habitat Management Guidelines for Amphibians and Reptiles of the Southeast. Mark was subcontracted to assist in development of Alabama’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, chaired the Herpetology subcommittee of Alabama’s Second Nongame Wildlife Conference, and co-authored two of the resulting publications. Mark has written multiple Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) and frequently works with the Alabama Forest Resources Center on large conservation easement projects. Mark is the immediate past president of the Alabama Chapter of The Wildlife Society and serves on the board of directors of the Alabama Wildlife Federation.

Clearly ALAPARC is fortunate to have an Alabama wildlife veteran like Mark Bailey working to further our amphibian and reptile conservation goals.

Monday, July 13, 2009

State and Federal Agency Liaison Position Filled

ALAPARC is proud to announce that Jim Godwin has recently accepted a position with our organization as State and Federal Agency Liaison. Jim is a zoologist with the Alabama Natural Heritage Program and has vast experience conducting amphibian and reptile research in the state. With unmatched wit and charisma, Jim has fostered relationships with numerous state and federal agencies relevant to wildlife conservation in Alabama. These relationships will be put to use by ALAPARC in furthering our goals.

Welcome Jim.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

ALAPARC Website: Webmaster Needed

As of this morning, the brand new ALAPARC website is up ( It's pretty much bare bones without graphics and not much to look at just yet, but it's a start. We hope to have PayPal set up soon so that meeting registration can be handled through the site.

Is anybody out there proficient in web design and willing to take the reins with this site? Now's your opportunity to step up. Contact me at

Friday, July 10, 2009

Education and Outreach Committee Needed

Hey everybody,

As Steen said, I'll be heading up the first education/outreach efforts for the group. I'm hoping that the chapter can serve as both a catalyst for new ideas and approaches and be a forum for enhancing collaboration between groups with existing education programs in Alabama.

Those are all good buzz words that sound great on paper, but turning them into something tangible is going to take a dedicated group of folks coming together to foster new ideas. As the chapter begins to form, I'm looking for a group of 5 to 6 folks to potentially serve on an education and outreach committee. Specifically, I'm looking for people with an interest in translating hard science into something easily digestible for the public, as well as anyone who may already have connections or be willing to connect with groups outside of science. If you're interested at all, feel free to shoot me an email at


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Education/Outreach Position Created

We are excited to announce that Wally Smith has agreed to help our chapter find effective methods of using outreach/education to further our amphibian and reptile conservation goals.

Wally is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alabama, researching interactions between ecological variables, forest management and diversity of amphibians and reptiles within Talladega National Forest.

Welcome aboard Wally.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Treasurer Position Filled

We are proud to announce that Karan Bailey has agreed to serve as ALAPARC's Treasurer. Karan brings with her years of experience serving as Southeast PARC's Treasurer and has worked on amphibian and reptile conservation in Alabama for years as project manager and biologist with Conservation Southeast, Inc.

We are still eager to recruit more individuals to our team, please let us know how you would like to become involved.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A New Chapter

Hi all,

Our chapter is developing quickly and we will soon make the formal announcement regarding our formation and our inaugural meeting this fall at the Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center. Stay tuned for details.

We currently have initiatives planned to address the status and distribution of the hellbender in Alabama as well as efforts to determine how chytrid fungus may be influencing amphibian populations in the state. We hope to update you on the progress of these initiatives and hear your ideas for more this fall.

As our chapter solidifies, we have identified the need for additional officers. We seek enthusiastic and self-motivated individuals to become either Secretary, Treasurer, or Newsletter Editor. Contact us at if you are interested.

David Steen
ALAPARC Co-chair