Huntsville, AL, US of A
The Center for North American Herpetology
13 March 2004
Collins receives grant to study amphibians, turtles, & reptiles in
South Dakota Black Hills
Joseph T. Collins, adjunct curator of herpetology at the Sternberg
Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University, and adjunct
herpetologist with the Kansas Biological Survey at the University of
Kansas, has been awarded a $10,500 grant from the South Dakota
Department of Game, Fish, & Parks to conduct a diversity survey of
amphibians, reptiles, and turtles found in Custer State Park in the
Black Hills of southwestern South Dakota.
"Amphibians, turtles, and reptiles are an significant part of the
Black Hills ecosystem, and their distribution, habitat, and abundance
are not fully understood in this region," said Collins, who has
written or co-written 23 books on amphibians, turtles, reptiles,
fishes, and other wildlife, including the "Peterson Field Guide to
Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America."
"Our goal is to investigate the diversity of these animals so that we
can better protect them and their environment in the future," Collins
said. Amphibians, turtles, and reptiles can be sensitive indicators of
environmental health. By learning about the habitat needs of the Black
Hills herpetofauna, any future environmental damage in that region can
be monitored and minimized.
Collins and his wife, Suzanne L. Collins, a noted professional
wildlife photographer, will be joined by Joe's brother, Jerry D.
Collins (an experienced field herpetologist from Ohio) as well as some
colleagues and former students on the project in South Dakota. They
are Travis W. Taggart and Curtis J. Schmidt, (curators of herpetology
at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State
University), Jay Kirk (Friends University, Wichita), Michael Rochford
(senior at Kansas State University), John Stoklosa (senior at the
University of Kansas), and Andrew Sindorf (senior at Eudora High School).
The project is funded in part by a State Wildlife Grant from the Fish
and Wildlife Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior and the
South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, & Parks.
"Suzanne and I are ready to get out in the field and see what is
there," said Collins. "Custer State Park contains many interesting
species, particularly the Redbelly Snake and Smooth Green Snake. I
think we can begin to fill some gaps in our knowledge about those
snakes in the Black Hills," he said.
Collins, who is also director of The Center for North American
Herpetology in Lawrence, pointed out that "this grant represents a
significant effort by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, &
Parks to focus on the biodiversity of these creatures in their state."
He went on to say that "selected specimens taken during the field work
will be deposited in the research collection at the Sternberg Museum
and will become a very important component of future studies on these
creatures, not only in South Dakota, but throughout the Great Plains.
The DNA material will provide researchers across the nation with much
needed information for their studies, and will enhance our
understanding of these animals not only in South Dakota, but across
For more information, contact:
Joseph T. Collins (785) 749-3467 or jcollins_at_ku.edu
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