Research Interests

Broadly I am interested in the ecology, evolutionary history and conservation of herpetofauna in the Southeastern United States, with emphasis on freshwater turtles.

Below are a couple examples of current projects my students and I are working on, but we have many more in the works!

Above: Alabama map turtle from Calhoun Co., AL

Below: Male and female Ouachita map turtles from Calhoun Co. AL, an invasive species

Map Turtles in the Upper Coosa

The impoundments along the Coosa River in Alabama decimated aquatic biodiversity, and it has infamously been coined the largest mass extinction event in US history. The changing of a flowing system to a non-flowing severely altered habitat for riverine species, like many snails, fishes and mussels. However, its effects on the map turtle species is less understood. The Alabama map turtle is one of the least-understood of the US's 14 map turtle species, and this study project seeks to understand their current distribution and abundance of the species in the Upper Coosa watershed.

Below: Northern map turtle from the Upper Coosa River.

Trophic Ecology of Musk Turtles

Alabama is #blessed to have every species of Sternotherus musk turtles currently in existence! Yet, there are still many aspects of their ecology that are unknown. These small, often "drab" turtles can be found walking the bottoms of most freshwater environments in Alabama, nosing around for invertebrate prey. Some species are specifically "durophagous," meaning the consume "durable" things, and this makes examination of fecal samples easy enough to quantify. Currently, my students and I are examining the interactions of sympatric musk turtles, their resource partitioning and trophic differentiation.

Open to suggestions

Care to collaborate? Reach out and let me know how I can help. Interested in joining the lab? Reach out and let me know your research interests. Disclosure - I can't always take graduate students, but don't hesitate to check for availability in the lab.

Pictured left: Alligator snapping turtle from Calhoun County, AL. First [formal] documentation from the area since 1914!