Maerz Lab Alumni


I have been so fortunate to have had an amazing army of undergraduates, graduate students, and post docs who have done remarkable things during their time at UGA.  All have managed to remain productive members of society, and most are gainfully employed, so there is no evidence that their time in my lab caused them harm.

Scroll down to see our awesome alumni.

Katie Fraser
MNR student Wildlife Ecology and Management

Katie is completing her MNR. Prior to coming to UGA she worked for the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and the Jekyll Island Authority's wildlife research program. Katie started as a masters student in the Odum School of Ecology before finishing her MNR in Warnell. During her time at UGA Katie studied winter surfacing behavior of rattlesnakes and the potential relationship to disease. She also trained in teaching science. She is now a high school biology teacher in south Florida.

James Hunt
M.Sc. 2020, Wildlife Ecology and Management
Currently: ...

James received his masters in the wildlife ecology and management program in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. James received his bachelors from the Odum School of Ecology, and then worked as a research technician studying both birds and amphibians. His masters research focuses on testing active IR camera systems for monitoring reintroduction programs for threatened Gopher frogs, and using telemetry to evaluate the impact of industrial solar development on a declining Gopher frog population. James is also assisting with a wetland restoration project for threatened amphibians. He currently works for Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Erin Cork
M.Sc. 2019, Wildlife Ecology and Management
Currently: Biologist, Quail Forever
Rachel Gardner
MSc. 2020, Wildlife Ecology and Management

Rachel received her masters in wildlife ecology and management program in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. She was jointly advised by Dr. James Martin and Dr. John Maerz.  She graduated from Michigan State University in 2012 with a B.S. in Zoology/Environmental Biology. Rachel's thesis research examined movement and resource use of bobwhite quail, timber rattlesnakes, and black rat snakes in response supplemental feeding practices on managed lands.

Lizzie Ashley
BSc. Biology and Ecology 2019
UGA Honors College

Lizzie received her BS in Biology and Ecology and was a member of the UGA Honors College. Lizzie's Honors Thesis research focused on the effects of salinity on the growth, behavior, and stress physiology of hatchling Diamonback terrapins, which she submitted for publication. Lizzie was the recipient of a 2018 CURO Scholarship in support of her research. She also interned with NOAA. Lizzie is now a DVM/PhD student at UC Davis, and her long-term goals are to work in coastal and marine ecology and conservation. She is particularly interested in relationships between coastal conservation and the health of people and wildlife.

Erin received her M.Sc. in wildlife ecology and management.  A few moons earlier she graduated from UGA with a Bachelors Degree in English, and worked as an Admissions Counselor at UGA before returning to graduate school.  Erin was a research volunteer at SREL, and worked for the National Park Service monitoring program. Her masters research focuses on modeling wetland suitability for Gopher frogs in Georgia, and evaluated habitat suitability to inform manage for Gopher frogs at the Alapaha River WMA. Erin worked as a private lands biologist for Quail Forever and now works for Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Dr. Kira McEntire
Ph.D. 2018, Wildlife Ecology & Management
Current Position: Visiting Assistant Professor, Trinity College

Kira completed her Ph.D. in wildlife ecology and management in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. She was a recipient of Graduate School Fellowship. She completed her bachelor's degree at Southwestern University in Texas where she studied everything!  Literally!   Kira's dissertation research integrated behavioral into ecophysiological models of salamander activity by using an agent-based modeling framework. She used that model to examine how behavior may reduce sensitivity of salamanders to variation in rainfall. She also applied the model in conjunction with a field experiment and comparative surveys to estimate the influence of Rhodondendron and its management on salamander activity, survival and abundance. In addition to being a full-time field biologist, Kira was an accomplished teacher and selected to UGA's future faculty program. She is also an avid dancer, and a ceramic artist.  In Georgia we call ceramic artists potters, and if you know any potters, you understand why she uses the term ceramic artist. Kira was a visiting Assistant Professor at Trinity University for three years and is now an Assistant Professor of Biology at Queens University.

Selected publications for Kira's dissertation research:

McEntire, K. D. 2016. Arboreal ecology of Plethodontidae: a review. Copeia 2016:124–131.

McEntire, K. D. and J. C. Maerz. 2019. Integrating ecophysiological and agent-based models to simulate how behavior moderates salamander sensitivity to climate. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution7(Article 22):1-10.

Dr. Jillian Howard
Ph.D. 2018, ICON

Jillian completed her Ph.D. student in the Integrative Conservation (ICON) PhD Program. She completed her bachelor's degree at UC Davis where she studied the spatial and temporal patterns of the breeding activity of Pseudacris regilla in an urban environment.  Jillian's doctoral was embedded within the Coweeta LTER where she is developed demographic models for terrestrial salamanders and estimating the effects of shifting precipitation on population demography.  She integrated knowledge of regional habitat quality for salamanders with participatory mapping of stakeholder values to identify areas of high value and limited conflict for salamander conservation. Jillian was the recipient of a Graduate School Fellowship.  Jillian is a currently a qualitative fisheries scientist in Washington.

Mackenzie Pryor
BSc. 2018, Fisheries and Wildlife
Currently: Ph.D. Student, Texas A&M

Mackenzie received her bachelors in Fisheries and Wildlife. She is broadly interested in the behavior and conservation of primates. Her senior thesis research focused on the ontogeny of gestural communication in Lowland gorillas. Mackenzie was the recipient of a 2017 CURO Summer Fellowship. She is currently a masters student studying primate behavioral ecology at Texas A&M.

Mel Mosley
BSc. 2018, Fisheries and Wildlife
Currently: Veterinary Student, Colorado State University

Mel graduated with a bachelors in Fisheries and Wildlife in the Pre-Veterinary Sciences program. Mel's senior thesis research examined patterns of neurodegeneration in Mole salamanders and Northern watersnakes exposed to a  novel toxic cyanobacteria  consumed by their prey. Mel is currently a vet student at Colorado State University where he has to constantly resist the urge to go fly fishing.

Heather Abernathy
M.Sc. Wildlife Ecology and Management, 2017
Currently: Ph.D. student at VA Tech

Heather received her masters wildlife ecology and management program in 2017.  She graduated from the Odum School of Ecology in 2013, and worked previously with our lab through the Coweeta LTER REU program.  Heather's masters research examined interactions between regional variation in precipitation and land cover effects on the distributions and abundances of migratory song birds, and developed higher resolution habitat suitability models for song birds to better predict suitable habitat for species at their southern range limits.  Heather helped teach our 2017 study abroad course in New Zealand and Australia. Heather is currently finishing her Ph.D. at Virginia Tech where she studied interactions between deer and Florida panthers.

Selected publications from Heather's work at UGA:

Chandler, R.B., J. Hepinstall-Cymerman, S. Merker, H. Abernathy-Conners, and R.J. Cooper. Characterizing spatio-temporal variation in survival and recruitment with integrated population models. The Auk 135(3):409-426.

Micah Miles
M.Sc. 2019, Wildlife Ecology and Management
Currently: Ph.D. student, UGA ICON

Micah completed her masters by building on her work with the USGS to analyze long-term data on lizard occupancy along a urban to rural gradient within the Santa Monica National Recreation Area (SAMO). Her goals were to determine what attributes of urbanizing landscapes  determine species responses to urbanization.   She was the recipient of a Graduate Fellowship from the University of Georgia, and a recipient of an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.  Micah is now a Ph.D. student in the Integrative Conservation (ICON) program under the direction of Dr. Milton Newberry. For her Ph.D. work, Micah plans to continue working on urban landscaped ecology, and seeks to integrate human dimensions work with conservation planning.

Melissa Martin
M.Sc. 2018, Wildlife Ecology and Management

Melissa received her masters  in rthe Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. She received her B.Sc. in Forestry from Warnell and worked as an environmental educator before returning to pursue her masters. Her thesis research focused on the potential for a novel toxin produced by the newly described cyanobacteria, Aeotokthonus hydrillicola, to be transferred to aquatic predators (salamanders and water snakes) via their prey. Malissa currently works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Dr. Adam G. Clause
Ph.D. 2018, ICON
Currently: Postdoctoral Research, UCLA

Adam was a Presidential Fellow in the ICON PhD Program. Adam's dissertation focused on how better to use expert opinion and using natural history to inform management and recovery of imperiled species, with an emphasis on reptiles and amphibians in California, Mexico, and Fiji. Adam joined our lab after completing his bachelors degree and a stint as a research technician in Dr. H. Bradley Shaffer’s lab at UC Davis (now UCLA). Adam’s dissertation research focuses on the conservation biology and spatial ecology of alligator lizards in the desert Southwest and southern Mexico. Adam in currently a postdoc with USGS Western Ecological Research Center. More details on Adam’s research can be found here.

Selected publications from Adam's work while at UGA:


Clause, A.G., N. Thomas-Moko, S. Rasalato, R.N. Fisher. 2018. All is not lost: herpetofaunal "extinctions" in the Fiji Islands. Pacific Science 72 (3), 321–328.

Clause, A.G., I. Solano-Zavaleta, K. A. Soto-Huerta, R. de la A. Pérez y Soto, C. A. Hernández-Jiménez. 2018. Morphological similarity in a zone of sympatry between two Abronia (Squamata: Anguidae), with comments on ecology and conservation. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 13 (1), 183-193.

Clause, A.G. and B. J. Thesing. 2018. Filling gaps with specimens: new herpetofaunal county records from Georgia, USA. Herpetological Review 49(1):80-84.

Thesing, B. J., P. Heimes, and A. G. Clause. 2017. Miscellaneous notes. Morphological vacation in Abronia read (Squamata: Anguidae) with comments on its distribution. Mesoamerican Herpetology 4(1):211-215.

Solano-Zavaleta, I., N.M. Ceron, and A.G. Clause. 2017. Solving a 50 -year mystery: rediscovery of Mesaspis antauges (Squamta: Anguidae). Zootaxa 4303(4):559-572.


Soto-Huerta, KA and AG Clause. 2018. Distribution and range extension of the elegant coralsnake, Micrurus elegans. The Southwestern Naturalist 62 (4), 303–308.

Clause, A.G., I. Solano-Zavaleta, L.F. Vazquez-Vega. 2017. Captive reproduction and neonate variation in Abronia graminea (Squamata: Anguidae). Herpetological Review 47(4):536-543.

Clause, A.G., C.J. Pavon-Vazquez, P.A. Scott, C.M. Murphy, E.W. Schaad, and L.N. Gray. 2016. Identification uncertainty and proposed best-practices for documental herpetofaunal geographic distributions, with applied examples from southern Mexico. Mesoamerican Herpetology 3(4):977-1000.

Pierson, T. W., T. Stratmann, E.C. White, A.G. Clause, C. Carter, M.W, Herr, A.J. Jenkins, H. Vogel, M. Knoerr, and B. Folt. 2014. New county records of amphibians and reptiles resulting from a bioblitz competition in North-Central Georgia, USA. Herpetological Review 45(2):296-297.

Ben Thesing
BSc. 2018, Fisheries and Wildlife
Currently: Masters student at UGA

Ben received his bachelors in Fisheries and Wildlife. His senior thesis research focused on building habitat suitability models for rare salamanders with limited distribution records by using the distributions and habitat requirements of better documented sister taxa. Ben was the recipient of a 2017 CURO Summer Fellowship, and he has several coauthored manuscripts in press. Ben worked as an amphibian research technician in Yosemite and for a primate ecology lab, and will be returning to graduate school in the Fall 2019 to work on Gopher frog management.

Ben's undergraduate publications:

Clause, A.G. and B. J. Thesing. 2018. Filling gaps with specimens: new herpetofaunal county records from Georgia, USA. Herpetological Review 49(1):80-84.

Thesing, B. J., P. Heimes, and A. G. Clause. 2017. Miscellaneous notes. Morphological vacation in Abronia read (Squamata: Anguidae) with comments on its distribution. Mesoamerican Herpetology 4(1):211-215.

Jana Pearce
B.Sc. Wildlife 2017

Jana received her B.Sc. in wildlife in 2017.  Her senior thesis research focused on using a novel way of measuring insect "heart" rates to measure the effects of road noise on stress in adult monarch butterflies.  Yes, another butterfly researcher!

Audry Vaughn
B.Sc. Wildlife 2017
Currently: Master student, NC State

Audry received her B.Sc. in wildlife in 2017.  Her senior thesis research focused the potential for a novelotoxin associated with the newly described cyanobacteria Aeotokthonus hydrillicola could be transferred to aquatic snakes via their prey.  After crushing her senior thesis presentation, Audry moved on to work as a field technician for Dr. Stanley Fox (OK State) studying collared lizards. In the Fall of 2019, Audrey will return to graduate school at NC State where she will continue to work on wildlife management. 

Fun Fact: Audrey wrote the first 300 page senior thesis.  It only needed to be 30 pages, but she likes to be thorough and had a lot to say.

Sara Diamond
BSFR Wildlife 2016, CURO Fellow
Currently: Research Assistant, EcoPeach

Sara received her BSc. in Wildlife in 2016   Her senior thesis research focused broadly on issues related to amphibian conservation inlcuding the performance of captive reared Gopher Frogs once released into the wild.  Sara received a 2016 University of Georgia Center for Undergraduate Research (CURO) Fellowship.  She was also Birth Right counselor and passionate about her Isreali roots and world travel.  In 2015 she studied abroad in New Zealand and Australia with the coolest instructor anywhere.  Sara is currently living and working in Israel.

Dr. Dara Satterfield
Ph.D. 2016, Ecology
Currently: Postdoc, Smithsonian

Dara was the 9th Ph.D. student from our lab.  She received her Ph.D. from the Odum School of Ecology working with Dr. Maerz and Dr. Sonia Altizer.  Dara's dissertation research focused on whether the introduction of nonnative plants is interfering with migratory behavior of monarch butterflies, resulting in higher disease prevalence and driving parasite evolution.  Dara was an innaugural member of UGA's Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Ph.D. program, and her work is funded through a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant.  She was a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. and now works on policy programs for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Selected publications from Dara's doctoral research:

Satterfield, D. A., J. C. Maerz, M. Hunter, T. Flockhart, K. Hobson, R. Norris, H. Streit, J. de Roode, and S. Altizer.  Migratory monarchs that encounter resident monarchs show life-history changes and higher rates of parasite infection.  Ecology Letters: accepted.


Satterfield, D. A., F. X. Villablanca, J. C. Maerz, and S. Altizer. 2016. Migratory monarchs wintering in California experience low infection risk compared to monarchs breeding year-round on non-native milkweed. Integrative and Comparative Biology 56:343-352.


Satterfield, D., J. C. Maerz, and S. Altizer.  2015.  Loss of migratory behaviour increases infection risk for a butterfly host.  Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 282: 20141734.

Katie Bentley
B.Sc. Biology & Wildlife 2015

Katie "Ruthless" Bentley received dual bachelors degrees in biology and wildlife.  She was on a productive path towards med school when she was led helplessly astray by her obsession with widlife.  It was easy.  She likes snakes.  She calls them her babies.  Katie received a competitive CURO Fellowship to support her senior thesis research using radio telemetry to study complemetary habitat requirements of Eastern Box Turtles.  She currently lives in Washington, and awaits her parents forgiveness for her career choice.

Jenny Asper Spatz
M.Sc.  Wildlife 2015
Currently: Montessori teacher

Jenny was a masters student in the widlife program in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.  She joined the lab in May 2013.  Jenny was a National Park Service employee and participant in a gradaute training cooperative with Warnell.  Her masters research focused on the invasion of green treefrogs into Cade's Cove within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Literally, a plague of frogs. Jenny worked a lab coordinator at the University of Tennessee studying Bd and ranavirus diseases in amphibians.

Will Booker
B.Sc. Fishereis and Wildlife, 2014, CURO Fellow
Currently: Ph.D. Student, Florida State

Will received graduated Suma cum laude with his bachelors in Fisheries & Wildlife in 2014.  Will worked on a number of reserach projects in the lab including our gopher frog reintroduction project, and he was President of the University of Georgia Herpetological addition to being an all around great guy.  Will is also an avid musician.  For his senior thesis research, Will examined how sibship variation in early tadpole growth affected larval responses to competition.  Will found strong evidence that maternal effects, via provisioning resources into eggs, interact with larval density to affect larval growth and survival, and these effects carry over into terrestrial phases via effects on size and timing of metamorphosis.  After spending six months working in Costa Rica, Will will join the Moriarity-Lemmon Lab at Florida State University as a Ph.D. student.

Dr. Kristen Cecala
Ph.D. 2012
Currently: Assistant Professor, Sewanee University of the South
link to Dr. Cecala's website

Kristen Cecala was the fifth Ph.D. from our lab and the recipient of an NSF GRFP.  Kristen was the primary student leading a large portion of our lab's work on the Coweeta LTER.  For her dissertation research she examined patterns of stream salamander patch occupancy in association with a large suite of environmental variables including watershed and local land uses. She demonstrated a strong association between watershed scale loss of riparian forest and declines in the local commonness of larval and adult stream salamanders, even in reaches where local forest conditions remain relatively less disturbed.  Kristen also conducted a series of lab and field studies to demonstrate that salamanders show avoidance of light and substrates often associated with human removal of riparian forest canopy, and she demonstrated that even relatively small gaps created in forests would dramatically reduce animal movements.  Kristen's research suggests that even small forest canopy disturbances such as powerline and road right of ways may be sufficient to fragment salamander populations within stream networks, leading to population declines at the watershed scale.

Kristen is now an Associate Professor of biology at Sewanee University of the South. We miss Kristen around here.  She has mad baking skills.


Selected publications from Kristen's work at UGA:

Cecala, K. K., J. C. Maerz, J. Chamblee, J. F. Frisch, T. L. Gragson, J. A. Hepinstall-Cymerman, D. S. Leigh, C. R. Jackson, J. T. Peterson, and C. M. Pringle.  2018. Assessment of multiple drivers, scales, and interactions influencing southern Appalachian stream salamander occupancy.  Ecosphere 9(3):e02150.

Cecala, K. K. and J. C. Maerz.  2016.  Context-dependent responses to light contribute to salamander responses to landscape disturbances.  Canadian Journal of Zoology 94: 7-13.


Cecala, K. K., W. H. Lowe, and J. C. Maerz. 2014. Riparian disturbance restricts in-stream movement of salamanders.  Freshwater Biology 59:2354-2364.


Webster, J.R., E.F. Benfield, K. Cecala, J.F. Chamblee, C. Dehering, T.Gragson, J. Hepinstall, C.R. Jackson, J. Knoepp, D. Leigh, J. Maerz, C. Pringle, and H.M. Valett.  2012.  Water quality and exurbanization in southern Appalachian streams.  Pages 91-106 in P.J. Boon and P.J. Raven (editors).  River Conservation and Management.  Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, UK. 

Dr. Jayna DeVore
Ph.D. 2011
link to Dr. DeVore's current website

Jayna DeVore was the third Ph.D. from our lab.  Jayna joined our lab after working several years as a reef dive boat guide in Hawaii.  Jayna is broadly interested in invasive species and the effects of structure on community interactions.  Her disseration work focused on the multiple pathways by which Japanese stilt-grass (Microstegium vimineum) invasions could affect amphibians within southeastern forests.  Jayna's work demonstrated that stilt-grass affects many dimensions of forest ecosystems including carbon cycling, arthropod abundance, and amphibian performance.  She also demonstrated that stilt-grass has different effects on different amphibians species, and that those effects are predictable using evolutionary theories about metamorphic trade-offs.  One of the most striking results from Jayna's research was the discovery that a major way stilt-grass effects some metamorphic amphibians is through modification of interactions with amphibian predators, notably ground foraging spiders.  She found that stilt-grass invasion leads to increased spider densities, which in turn leads to increased depredation on recenly metamorphosed anurans. Jayna was a postdoctoral research associate with Dr. Jeb Byers in the Odum School of Ecology where she is studied macroalgae invasions on coastal marine communities, and a four-year postdoctoral research associate with Dr. Richard Shine at the University of Sydney studying evolutionary ecology of cane toad invasions.  FUN FACT: Jayna uses hemispheric sleep to work 24 hours a day.


Selected publications from Jayna's work at UGA:

DeVore, J. L. and J. C. Maerz.  2014.  Grass invasion increases top-down pressure on an amphibian via structurally mediated effects on an intraguild predator.  Ecology 97:1724-1730.


Bradford, M. A., M. J. Strickland, J. L. DeVore, and J. C. Maerz.  2012.  Root carbon flow from an invasive plant to belowground foodwebs.  Plant and Soil 359: 233-244.


Strickland, M.S., J. L. Devore, J. C. Maerz, and M.A. Bradford. 2011.  Loss of faster-cycling soil carbon pools following grass invasion across multiple forest sites. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 43: 452-454.


Strickland, M. S., J. S. DeVore, J. C. Maerz, and M. A. Bradford. 2010.  Grass invasion of a hardwood forest is associated with declines in belowground carbon pools.  Global Change Biology 16:1338-1350.

Andrew Grosse
M.Sc. Wildlife, 2009
Currently: State Herpetologist, SC DNR

Andrew Grosse completed his B.Sc. in Warnell where his senior thesis focused on 20 year trends of sea turtle strandings on the coast of Georgia. For his masters work, Andrew was the lead student on our Terrapin Project assessing the statewide impact of commercial crabbing and roads on the abundance of diamondback terrapins along coastal GA.  Andrew completed one of the largest and most complex field research projects of any masters student I have known, and his work yielded numerous publications that we believe will affect conservation policies.  In particular, Andrew's work showed a clear relationship between commercial crabbing and dramatically reduced abundances of terrapins, reduced terrapin abundance on causeways to barrier islands, and he identifeid a key hotspot of terrapin abundance as a target for conservation.  Andrews paper 2011 paper in the Journal of Wildlfe Management was distinguished with the cover photo for the issue.  After completing his masters, Andrew worked as a research technician at the Savannah Rvier Ecology Lab.  Andrew recently assumed the position of state herpetologist for South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and continues to be an important collaborator with the lab.


Selected publications from Andrew's work at UGA:

Grosse, A. M., B. A. Crawford, J. C. Maerz, K. A. Buhlmann, T. Norton, M. Kaylor, and T. D. Tuberville.  Effects of vegetation structure and artificial nesting habitats on hatchling sex determinatino and nest survival of diamondback terrapins.  Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management: in press.


Grosse, A. M., J. C. Maerz, J. A. Hepinstall-Cymerman, and M. E. Dorcas.  2011.  Effects of Roads and Crabbing Pressures on Diamondback Terrapin Populations in Coastal Georgia.  Journal of Wildlife Management 75:762-770.


Grosse, A. M., S. C. Sterrett, and J. C. Maerz.  2010.  Effects of turbidity on the foraging success of the eastern painted turtle.  Copeia 2010:463-467.

Jessica Lauren Reynolds
B.Sc. Wildlife 2017, CURO Scholar

Jessica received her B.Sc. in wildlife in 2017.  Her senior thesis research focused the effects of anthropogenic beach lighting and vegetation removal on nesting patterns of marine turtles on St. Kitts, West Indies.  Jessica received a 2017 CURO scholarship and  presented her work at the 2017 CURO Symposium and the 2017 International Sea Turtle Symposium.  After graduation, Jessica put us all to shame by through hiking the Appalachian Trail. She worked as a fisheries biologist in Oregon and is now a masters student at the University of Idaho.

Kayla Smith
BSFR Aquatic Sciences 2017, CURO Scholar
Currently: Field Technician, U.S.F.S.

Kayla received her B.Sc. in aquatic sciences in 2017.  Her senior thesis research focused nest habitat management and spatial mortality patterns for Diamondback terrapins.  Her work contributed to our larger Terrapin Conservation Project.  Kayla received a 2016 University of Georgia Center for Undergraduate Research (CURO) Scholarship.  She presented her research at the 2017 CURO Symposium.  She worked as U.S. Forest Service technician conducting alpine surveys of fish and amphibians and is now a masters student at Oregon State University.

Carmen Candal
BSFR Wildlife 2016
Currently: Master student, UGA

Carmen received her bachelor's in wildilfe in 2016.  For her senior thesis research, she analyzed 6 years of spatial capture data on female terrapins along the Jekyll Island Causeway to determine which habitat and intrinsic traits of terrapins predicted female road crossing.  Carmen found that habitat management and female terrapin age were important predictors of terrapin crossing, and her work is directly impacting management decisions to improve conservation of terrapins on Jekyll Island.  Carmen was most recently a wildlife technician with GA DNR, and she is now a masters student working on tortoise conservation with Dr. Tracey Tuberville.

Dr. Brian Crawford
Ph.D. 2016, ICON
Currently: Postdoc, USGS Coop

Brian was the eight Ph.D. student from our lab and a member of the inaugural class ofthe ICON PhD Program.  Brian joined the lab in 2009 as a masters student.  His masters research focused on estimating hotspots and hot moments of diamondback terrapin mortality on the Jekyll Island Causeway.  His Ph.D. research was co-funded by the Jekyll Island Authority's Georgia Sea Turtle Center to use ecological and social sciences and structured decision making to develop a management plan for the conservation of terrapins on barrier islands.  Brian also completed his ICON internship with Rare exploring the use of their pride campaign model for community-based conservation in the U.S.  Brian is now a post doc with the Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit (USGS) here in Athens, GA.  

Selected publications from Brian's masters and doctoral research:


Crawford, B. C., C. T. Moore, T. M. Norton, and J. C. Maerz.  2018. Integrated analysis for population estimation, management impact evaluation, and decision-making for a declining species.  Biological Conservation222:33-43.

Crawford, B. A., C. T. Moore, T. M. Norton, and J. C. Maerz. 2017. Mitigating road mortality of Diamond-backed terrapins(Malaclemys terrapin) with hybrid barriers at crossing hot spots.  Herpetological Conservation Biology12:202-211.


Crawford, B. A., N. C. Poudyal, and J. C. Maerz.  When drivers and terrapins collide: assessing stakeholder attitudes toward wildlife management on the Jekyll Island Causeway.  Human Dimensions of Wildlife 20:1-14.

Grosse, A. M., B. A. Crawford, J. C. Maerz, K. A. Buhlmann, T. Norton, M. Kaylor, and T. D. Tuberville.  2015. Effects of vegetation structure and artificial nesting habitats on hatchling sex determination and nest survival of diamondback terrapins.  Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 6:19-28.

Crawford, B. A., J. C. Maerz, N. P. Nibbelink, K. A. Buhlmann, and T. M. Norton.  2014.  Estimating the impacts of multiple threats and management strategies for diamondback terrapins (Malaclemys terrapin).  Journal of Applied Ecology51:359-366.


Crawford, B. A., J. C. Maerz, N. P. Nibbelink, K. A. Buhlmann, T. M. Norton, and S. E. Albeke.  2014.  Hot spots and hot moments of diamondback terrapin road-crossing activity.  Journal of Applied Ecology 51:367-375.

Dr. R. Kyle Barrett
Postdoc 2009-2012
Currently: Associate Professor, Clemson University
link to Dr. Barrett's website

Dr. Kyle Barrett was a joint postdoc in the Maerz and Nibbelink labs from 2009-2012.  He is now an Associate Professor at Clemson University. Kyle's work focuses on factors affecting the distribution and abundance of animals, specifically how large scale stressors such as urbanization and climate change affect reptiles and amphibians. His dissertation research  explored how stream-dwelling species respond to urbanized watershed development.  As a postdoc at UGA, Kyle led our projects on assessing priority amphibian and reptile vulnerabilities to climate change with the goal of aiding states and other entities in long-range conservation planning in the face of climate change.  He is now a lead PI on projects to identify Priority Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Areas (PARCAs) in the northeast and southeast. In addition to his research, Kyle took on a leadership role within our lab including significant mentoring of graduate students and undergradautes.  FUN FACT:  Kyle is closely related to the majority of people in Tennessee, which is redundant with saying he is from Tennessee.

Selected publications from Kyle's post doctoral research:

Barrett, K., N.P. Nibbelink, and J.C. Maerz. 2014.  Amphibian vulnerability to climate change: identifying priority species and conservation opportunities in a biodiversity hotspot.  Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 5(2):282-296.

Phillip Bumpers
M.Sc. Ecology 2014
Currently: Research Coordinator, University of Georgia

Phillip was a masters student in Amy Rosemond's Lab in the UGA Odum School of Ecology…but we love him like he was one of our own.  

Phillip's masters thesis focused on salamander responses to stream nutrient enrichment as part of our NSF-funded SNAX3 project at the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory. Phillip is currently a research coordinator for the University of Georgia River Basin Center.  FUN FACT: Phillip likes to garden.  The problem, as this photo illustrates, is he chooses poor locations for his gardens.

Selected publications from Phillip's masters research:

Bumpers, P. M., Rosemond, A. D., J. C. Maerz, and J. P. Benstead. 2017. Experimental nutrient enrichment of forest streams increases energy flow to predators along greener food-web pathways. Freshwater Biology 62:1794-1805.

Bumpers, P. M., J. C. Maerz, A. D. Rosemond, and J. P. Benstead.  2015. Growth of vertebrate predators responds to phosphorus enrichment more than nitrogen enrichment in detritus-based headwater streams. Ecology 96:2994-3004.

Dr. Andy Davis
Ph.D. 2010
Currently: Associate Research Scientis, University of Georgia
link to Dr. Davis's website

Andy Davis was the first Ph.D. from our lab, and he is a prolific researcher with a wide range of interests in animal ecology and evolution.  his research focuses on animal ecophysiology, particularly relationships between stress, immune function and animal performance.  For his dissertation, Andy studied relationships between amphibian white blood cells and a range of natural and anthropogenic stressors in both the field and lab.  His work has applications to assessing stress levels in populations, and improving captive husbandry environments for conservation breeding programs.  Andy is now an Associate Research Scientist in the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia. FUN FACT: Andy has the diet of a 9 year old, which consists of candy.


Selected publications by Andy Davis:

Davis, A.K. 2012. Investigating the optimal rearing strategy for Ambystoma salamanders using a hematological stress index. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 7(1): 95-100.


Davis, A.K.* and J.C. Maerz. 2011. Assessing stress levels of captive-reared amphibians with hematological data: implications for conservation initiatives. Journal of Herpetology 45(1): 40-44.


Davis, A.K.* and J.C. Maerz. 2009. Effects of larval density on hematological stress indices in salamanders. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology 311A: 697-704.


Davis, A.K.*, D.L. Maney, and J.C. Maerz. 2008. The use of leukocyte profiles to measure stress in vertebrates: a review for ecologists. Functional Ecology 22: 760-772.


Andrew Durso
B.Sc. Ecology, 2009

Andrew Durso was among the first undergraduates to join our lab, and our first CURO Apprentice.  His CURO research focused on seasonal detection probabilities of different life stages of pond-breeding salamanders, which complimented his research as a summer REU at the Savannah River Ecology Lab where he studied detection probabilities of aquatic snakes.  Andrew also worked as a researcher on our Terrapin Project.  Andrew published several papers from his undergraduate work on topics ranging from the hematology of cricket frogs to patterns for diversity determined through bioblitz’s of poorly documented areas within Georgia and Alabama.  He received the 2007 award for most outstanding research presentation from the Georgia Chapter of Sigma Xi (the National Science Honor Society), and he was a founding member and president of the Herpetological Society at the University of Georgia and the Ecology Club.  Andrew went on to get his masters degree at Eastern Illinois University s and his Ph.D. at Utah State University.  Andrew is now an Assistant Professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. He writes the blog "Life is Short, but Snakes are Long."  FUN FACT: Andrew is the only member of our lab to have posed nude for a calendar…so far.


Selected publications from Andrew's time at UGA:

Durso, A. M., J. D. Wilson, and C. T. Winne.  2011.  Needles in haystacks: estimating detection probability and occupancy of rare and cryptic snakes.  Biological Conservation 144:1506-1513.


Graham, S., D. Steen, A. Durso, K. Nelson and J. C. Maerz. 2010. An overlooked hotspot? Revealing a region of exceptionally high amphibian and reptile richness.  Southeastern Naturalist 9:19-34.


Davis, A.K. and A.M. Durso. 2009. White blood cell differentials of northern cricket frogs (Acris c. crepitans) with a compilation of published values from other amphibians. Herpetologica 65(3): 260-267.

Kevin Fouts
M.Sc. Wildlife, 2014
Currently: Research Coordinator, Sewanee University

Kevin was a masters student in wildlife working jointly with the Maerz Lab, the Wilde Lab, and the USGS Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit.  Kevin's masters research focused on the effects of fire restoration to amphibian and reptile habitats in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  In addition, he worked on AVM impacts on wildlife, and he served as TA for Animal Behavior (BIOL 3700) and Herpetology (WILD 4040/6040).    Kevin went on to work for the U.S. Forest Service on the Savannah River Site and now works as a watershed research coordinator with Dr. Kristen Cecala at Sewanee University.

FUN FACT: Kevin gave up a high paying career in marketing in NYC…with supermodels…to be a grad student in wildlife.

Selected publications from Kevin's time at UGA:

Fouts, K., C., T. Moore, K. D. Johnson, and J. C. Maerz. 2017.  Fire restoration effects on forest climate and lizard activity and abundance in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Forest Ecology and Management 8:181-192.

Albert Mercurio
M.Sc. 2014

Albert worked jointly with Dr. Maerz and Dr. Sonia Hernandez on the effects of hydrilla and toxic algae invasions on freshwater turtles inhabiting Georgia's reservoirs.  Albert joined the lab in 2010 after completing his bachelor's at James Madison University.  While at JMU, Albert worked with Dr. Reid Harris on infectious fungi causing worldwide declines in amphibians.  In addition to his research, Albert completed UGA's Interdisciplinary Certificate in University Teaching.


Selected publications from Albert's work at UGA:

Mercurio, A. D., Hernandez, S. M., J. C. Maerz, M. J. Yabsley, A. E. Ellis, A. L. Coleman, L. M. Shelnutt, J. R. Fischer, and S. B. Wilde.  2014.  Experimental feeding of Hydrilla verticillata colonized by stigonematales cyanobacteria induces vacuolar myelinopathy in Painted turtles (Chrysemys picta). PLoS One 9(4):e93295.  

Alina Ruiz
M.Sc. Wildlife, 2007
Currently: school counselor

Alina completed her BSc. in Wildlife at UGA before completing her masters degree.  Alina's masters research focused on patterns of anuran community diversity, disease, and malformations in constructed wetlands within Clayton County, GA.  Constructed wetlands are increasing on the landscape as an effective, low cost means to secondarily treat municipal wastewater.  These constructed wetlands create attractive habitats for wildlife in urban and suburban landscapes, but may also expose them to novel stressors including higher prevalances of invasive species, disease, and endocrine disrupting compounds.  Alina found that diversity of anurans within wetland complexes could be high, but that anurans occupying wetlands most proximate to discharge points for treated wastewater were immunologically stressed, had higher prevalences of diseases, and where significantly more likely to have abnormalities including a novel disorde of hypercalcinosus of soft-tissues.  The hypercalcinosus was likely from exposure to estrogenic compounds commonly abundant in treated wastewater.  One of Alina's greatest contributions was founding the UGHS outreach program, and following her masters research, Alina worked as a science naturalist at Stone Mountain while pursuing a second masters degree in counseling. She is now a school counselor and tries using nature and outdoor programming to help at risk children in inner city environments. 


Alina's masters publications:

Ruiz, A. M., J. C. Maerz, A. K. Davis, M. K. Keel, A. R. Ferreira, M. J. Conroy, L. Morris, and A. T. Fisk.  2010.  Patterns of development and abnormalities among tadpoles in a constructed wetland receiving treated wastewater.  Environmental Science & Technology 44:4862-4868.


Keel, M. K., A. M. Ruiz, A. T. Fisk, W. Rumbeiha, A. K. Davis, and J. C. Maerz. 2010.  Soft-Tissue Mineralization of bullfrog Larvae (Rana catesbeiana) at a Wastewater Treatment Facility.  Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 22(4):655-689.

Katharine Servidio
B.Sc. Forestry, 2012

Katharine was a masters student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.  Katharine joined the lab in 2012 aftern completing her bachelors in forestry at UGA.  As an undergraduate, Katharine participated in UGA's Climate Change Research course funded by NASA.  As a participant in the course, Katharine completed a study of the relationship between climate, water loss and diet among salamanders along the Plethodon teyahalee X shermani hybrid gradient.  Katharine turned that work into a senior thesis focusing on patterns of salamander foraging on ant species, and now her masters work is examining whether salamander declines affect native ant populations, and how shifts in ant populations affect seed dispersal in Appalachian forests.  Katharine contributed to our long-term mark-recapture study of Plethodon to examine how climate drives salamander activity and hybrid zone dynamics.

Dr. Sean Sterrett
M.Sc. Wildlife 2010, Ph.D. 2014
Currently: Assistant Professor, Monmouth University

Sean joined the lab in 2007 as a masters student.  His masters research focused on the impacts of riparian land use on freshwater turtle communities in the Lower Flint River Basin.  For his PhD research, he used ecological stoichiometry theory, field studies and experimental mesocosm to examine how turtle communities are involved in the uptake, retention, and recycling of nutrients and whether some turtle species control allochthonus litter inputs.  Cool fact - Sean successfully used crowd funding to complete his disseration research.  A first for our lab.  Sean received numerous awards for his leadership in wildlife conservation, teaching, and was selected to the UGA Emerging Leaders Program.  Sean also completed UGA's Interdisciplinary Certificate in University Teaching.

Sean is completed postdoctoral work with the USGS and Massachusettes DNR, and is now an Assistant Professor at Monmouth University.


Selected publications from Sean's work at UGA:

Sterrett, S. C., J. C. Maerz, and R. A. Katz.  2015. On the importance of turtles in freshwater nutrient storage and cycling.  Freshwater Biology 60:443-455.


Sterrett, S. C., A. J. Kaeser, R. A. Katz, L. L. Smith, J. C. Brock, and J. C. Maerz.  2015. Spatial ecology of female Barbours’ map turtles (Graptemys barbouri) in Ichawaynochaway Creek, Georgia.  Journal of Herpetology 103:263-271.  


Sterrett, S. C., L. L. Smith. S. W. Golladay, S. H. Schweitzer, and J. C. Maerz. 2011.  The conservation implications of riparian land use on river turtles. Animal Conservation: 14 (1): 38-46.

Cyndi Carter
B.Sc. Ecology, 2013
Currently: Ph.D. student, UGA

Cyndi received her BS in Ecology in 2013 from the Odum School of Ecology.  She is broadly interested in evolutionary ecology and herpetology.  Cyndi's undergraduate thesis research focused on patterns of southwestern rattlesnake abundance along a historic road transect in relation to changing land cover.  Cyndi also worked on reptile conservation with Zoo Atlanta, was an officer in the Herpetological Society at the University of Georgia, and served as an undergraduate TA for Herpetology (WILD 4040/6040).

Cyndi completed her masters at Eastern Illinois University with Stephen Mullin and has rejoined our lab as a Ph.D. student.


FUN FACT: Cyndi is the loudest vertebrate in the forests of the southeastern United States

Cassandra Skaggs, BSFNR Wildlife 2011
Currently: masters student, LSU

Cassandra Skaggs received her B.Sc. in Wildlife in 2013.  Cassie has an infectious passion for animal ecology and conservation.  Cassie helped with the mass rearing of Gopher frogs for a population restoration project (The Gopher Frog Project), and for her senior thesis she studied the growth and survival rates of newly released metamorphs in habitats with artificially supplemented burrows.  Her worked revealed that burrows do increase metamorph survival, and that fire ants are a major source of gopher frog metamorph mortality.  Cassie was featured in a Georgia Outdoors program on frog declines and conservation (A Fight For Frogs documentary).  After graduation, Cassie served as an intern for the Natural Resources Committee of the Georgia Legislature, and worked on bird conservation management in North Dakota. Cassie completed her masters degree in wildlife from LSU.

Emily Reed
BFNR Widlife Pre-Vet, 2011
Currently: DVM, University of Georgia

Emily received her B.Sc. in Wildlife and was a member of the honors program.  For her honors thesis, she studied a novel calcinosis disorder that occurs in bullfrog tadpoles found in a constructed wastewater treatment wetland complex in Georgia.  Preliminary evidence suggests that an exogenous compound is causing elevated levels of cholecalciferol in tadpoles.  Cholecalciferol is associated with calcium deposition in bones; however, because tadpoles lack a bony skeleton, the cholecalciferol is associated with calcium mineralization of soft tissues such as the tail musculature, throat and heart.  Emily tried to induce the calcinosis in the laboratory by exposing tadpoles to exogenous hormones or cholecalciferol in the presence of ambient concentrations of calcium in water and tadpole diets.


Emily served as officer in the Herpetological Society at the University of Georgia and as a Student Ambassador for the Warnell School.  Emily received numerous University academic scholarships including UGA's Charter Fellowship, the Forestry Alumni Scholarship, and the Martha Love May Memorial Scholarship. Emily went on to get her DVM from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.

Matt Erickson
BFR Wildlife 2008
Currently: Biologist, Phinizy Center for Water Sciences

Matt Erickson received his B.Sc. in Wildlife and did his senior thesis on the trophic ecology of diamondback terrapins.  Specifically, Matt integrated the use of fecal analysis with stable isotopes to determine the composition of terrapin diets.  Matt’s work showed that terrapins derive the vast majority of their energy from Spartina through the consumption of mud and sand fiddler crabs and periwinkle snails.  Matt also found that smaller/younger terrapins do derive some energy from mud snails, which occur on mudflats within the low marsh channel; however, adult female terrapins did not consume mud snails; and h found no evidence in fecal samples or from stable isotopes that terrapins feed on any fully aquatic species including fish, shrimp or blue crabs.  Matt's work indicates that terrapins feed largely in the high marsh, probably during or shortly after high tide as the water enters or recedes from this area, and only smaller terrapins feed aquatically in the low marsh.  This contradicts the proposed feeding ecology of terrapins, however is consistent with other behavioral data showing the species spends a high proportion of its time in the high marsh and out of the water.


Matt conducted his research while working as a technician on the Terrapin Project.  After graduation, he worked as a tehcnician in our lab and at the Savannah River Ecology Lab, before completing his masters degree at Georgia Southern University.  He is currently a biologist for the Phinizy Water Sciences Center.

Robert Horan
BFR Wildlife 2007
Currently: Biologist, GA DNR

Robert received his B.Sc. in Wildlife and his senior thesis research focused on the potential use of artificial nests to study alligator nest ecology.  A common problem in studying natural nests is that human contact with a nest can significantly increase the probability a nest will be depredated.  Robert showed that artificial nests did not provide similar combinations of moisture and temperature to natural nests.  His work also showed a relatively high rate of predation on alligator nests, particularly by fire ants.


Robert completed his M.Sc. at Warnell working on the ecology of the gliding treefrog, Agalychnis spurelli, in Panama.  He is now a biologist with GA DNR.

Daniel Van Dijk
BSFR Wildlife 2007

Daniel Van Dijk received his B.Sc. in Wildlife, but bailed on his senior thesis in our lab.  That was okay because Daniel did a beautiful thesis on eco tourism impacts on the Leaping Tiger Gorge in China.  Daniel was chronic presence around the lab, and served as a technician on the Diamondback Terrapin Project.  Daniel was also an avid photographer for the lab, and left us with many great images of his time here.


After completing his bachelors, Daniel remained at Warnell where here completed his MFR.  He now runs a beer business, making him the "winner" in the game of life among all lab alumnus, and the envy of all those who chose to stay in academia.


Selected publications from Daniel's work at UGA:

Grosse, A. M., J. D. van Dijk, K. L. Holcomb, and J. C. Maerz. 2009. Diamondback terrapin mortality in crab pots in a Georgia tidal marsh. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 8:98-100.

A. Justin Nowakowski
BSFR Wildlife 2006
Currently: Postdoc, U.C. Davis
click here to visit Justin's website

Justin received his B.Sc. in Wildlife, and for his senior thesis, Justin conducted research on the how different sampling techniques affected abundance estimates of larval stream salamanders in the Georgia piedmont.  His work showed that sampling technique affected the size of salamanders captured, and that the incorporation of mark-recapture increased density estimates by 1-2 orders of magnitude from densities previously reported in the literature.


After graduation, Justin worked a research technician on our Diamondback Terrapin Project.  Justin completed his Ph.D. at Florida International University. He was a postdoc at UC Davis and is now a fellow at the Smithsonian.


Selected publications from Justins work at UGA:

Nowakowski, A. J. and J. C. Maerz.  2009.  Estimation of larval stream salamander densities in three proximate streams in the Georgia piedmont.   Journal of Herpetology 43:503-509.

Dr. Anna McKee
Ph.D. 2012
Currently: Ecologists, USGS South Atlantic Water Science Center

Anna McKee was the fourth Ph.D. from our lab.  Anna received her bachelors degree from Colorado State, and was a UGA Presidential Fellow.  Anna is broadly literate in evolutionary ecology and population genetics. Her dissertation research focused on comparing patterns of amphibian community diversity and genetic diversity within amphibian species that differ in their dispersal abilities.  In addition, a portion of Anna's disseration focused on developing an undergraduate unit on biogeography and community and population landscape genetics.  Anna was repeatedly recognized with numerous awards as an outstanding teacher.

Anna is now a researcher at the USGS in Atlanta, GA where she continues to work on population and landscape ecology of amphibians in urban wetlands in addition to expanding the use of eDNA in monitoring.  FUN FACT: Anna has the highest metabolism per unit mass of any vertebrate.


Selected publications from Anna's work at UGA:

McKee, A. M., J. C. Maerz. L. L. Smith, and T. C. Glenn. 2017. Habitat predictors of genetic diversity for two wetland-breeding amphibians with differeing vagilities. Ecology and Evolution 2017:1-13.

McKee, A. M., G. T. Green, and J. C. Maerz.  2015.  Neutral processes that regulate patterns of species and genetic diversity.  Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology:

McKee A, Lance S, Jones K, Hagen C, Glenn T (In press) Development and characterization of 12 microsatellite loci for the Dwarf Salamander, Eurycea quadridigitata. Conservation Genetics Resources.


McKee A, Lance S, Jones K, Hagen C, Glenn T (2011) Development and characterization of 18 microsatellite loci for the Southern Leopard Frog, Rana sphenocephala. Conservation Genetics Resources, 3, 267-269.

Dr. Joseph Milanovich
Ph.D. 2010
Currently:  Associate Professor, Loyola University Chicago

Joe Milanovich was the second Ph.D. from our lab.  Joe is passionate about all things salamander, so he was a natural fit for one of my first gradaute students.  Joe worked on a variety of topics including stable isotope behavior in salamander tissues, and the discovery of a new genus of salamander.  Joe's disseration research focused on stoichiometry and estimating the role of larval stream salamanders in the storage of nitrogen and phosphorus.  His worked was a foundational part of our ongoing research at the Coweeta LTER.  Joe also led our first efforts to model salamander responses to climate change.  Joe completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at the US EPA in Cincinatti, and is now an Associate Professor at Loyola University Chicago.


Selected publications from Joe's work at UGA:

Milanovich, J. R. and J. C. Maerz.  2012.  Assessing the Use of Non-lethal Tail Clips for Measuring Stable Isotopes of Plethodontid Salamanders.  Herpetological Conservation Biology 7(1):67−74.


Milanovich, J. R., W. E. Peterman, W. E., N. P. Nibbelink, and J. C. Maerz. 2010.  Projected loss of a salamander diversity hotspot as a consequence of projected global climate change. PLoS ONE 5(8): e12189.


Camp, C. D., W. E. Peterman, J. R. Milanovich, T. Lamb, J. C. Maerz and D. B. Wake.  2009.  A new genus of lungless salamander (family Plethodontidae) from the Appalachian highlands of the southeastern United States.  Journal of Zoology 279:86-94.

Dr. Leslie Ruyle
Ph.D. 2012
Currently: Academic Coordinator and M&E Specialist, Center on Conflict and Development, Texas A&M University

Leslie Ruyle was the sixth Ph.D. from our lab. Leslie came to UGA after a stint as a nationally competitive volleyball player and peace corp volunteer.  She is deeply passionate about international conservation and the engagement of local communities in conservation.  Leslie's dissertation research focused on a population viability analysis and assessment of human impacts on black-chested spiny-tailed iguanas on a Honduran island archipelago.  Leslie also conducted a broader review of the success of iguana farming as a conservation tool in Latin America.  Leslie's work suggested that human habitation of islands have several affects on Ctenosaur populations.  Ctenosaur populations were subsidized by human trash and waste such that, in the absence of hunting or harassment by domestic animals, populations can exist at high densities; however, the presence of domestic animals was associated with increased rates of injury and smaller population sizes.  Leslie's review of iguana farming revealed that most farms fail to be viable, and have done nothing to provide for supplemental returns of animals to the wild or reduce hunting pressures on wild stock.  Her work suggested that iguana farmings largest effect was to stimulate a pet trade market, and that remains the only economic activity sustaining the few remaining farms.  Farms supplying the pet industry do not generate any captive production of animals to the wild.  Leslie was a postdoctoral coordinator for the Texas A&M IGERT and now is the Academic Coordinator for the Center on Conflict and Development at Texas A&M.


Selected publications from Leslie's work at UGA:

Davis, A. K., L. Ruyle, and J. C. Maerz.  2011.  Effects of trapping method on leukocyte profiles of black-chested spiny-tailed iguanas (Ctenosaura melanosterna): implications for zoologists in the field.  Zoology 2011: Article ID 384825 doi:10.5402/2011/384825.

Zackary Seymour
MNR 2012
Currently: Director of Outreach, Chattanooga Zoo

Zack was an MNR student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.  Zack is interested in the role of zoos in the captive husbandry and propagation of threatened amphibians and reptiles.  Zack helped with our captive rearing and release program for the gopher frog, which is a collaborative effort between UGA, Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Bear Hollow, the Jones Ecological Research Center, the Nature Conservancy, and Georgia Department of Natural Resources.  In addition to his course work Zack was an intern at Bear Hollow Zoo and a tutor for the UGA Athletic Department.  He is currently director of outreach for the Chattanooga Zoo.

Kevin Stohlgren
M.Sc. 2013

Kevin received his masters degree in wildife in 2013 from the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.  Kevin received his B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Missouri and has worked with the Missouri Department of Conservation on a reptile and amphibian monitoring project in the Ozarks and has also worked at the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center in Southwest Georgia. His master's research focused on developing a population model for the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, and using occupancy to model the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on the distribution and abundance of eastern diamondback rattlesnakes on Georgia's barrier islands.  Kevin is also an accomplished wilidlife photographer. Kevin was a research scientist with the Orianne Society where he conducted status assessments for snake species that are candidates for federal protection. Kevin now lives in Maryland, and he still refuses to eat any vegetables unless you first feed them to an animal, slaughter the animal, and grill said animal.

Todd Pierson
B.Sc. Ecology 2013
Currently: Postdoc, University of Georgia

Todd received his BS in Ecology in 2013 from the Odum School of Ecology.  He is from Indianapolis, IN, and came to UGA because of his interests in ecology and herpetology.  Wisely, he is particularly interested in salamanders, and completed several field projects on the newly described patch-nosed salamander (Urspelerpes brucei).  For his honors research he modeled detection rates of syntopic stream salamanders, and explored the development of eDNA techniques for detecting rare stream salamander species.  Todd is a recipient of a 2009 Foundation Fellow scholarship, the 2010 Udall Scholarship, and the 2011 Joshua Laerm Award.  Todd served two terms as co-president of the Herpetological Society at the University of Georgia, and as an undergraduate TA for Herpetology (WILD 4040/6040).  Todd completed his Ph.D. in 2019 through Ben Fitzpatrick's lab at the University of Tennessee. Todd was postdoctoral researcher at UGA/SREL and is now an Assistant Professor at Kennesaw State University.


Selected publications from Todd's work at UGA:

Pierson, T. W., A. M. McKee, S. F. Spear, J. C. Maerz, C. Camp, and T. C. Glenn.  2016.  Deteciton of an enigmatic plethodontid salamander using environmental DNA. Copeia 2016:78-82.

McEntire, K. P, T. W. Pierson, and J. C. Maerz.  Eurycea cirrigera (Southern two-lined salamander) Paedogenesis.  Herpetological Review: in press.

Theresa Stratmann
B.Sc. Ecology 2013
Currently: Ph.D. student, Germany

Theresa received her BS in Ecology in 2013 from the Odum School of Ecology.  She is from Columbia, SC, and came to UGA because of her interests in ecology, conservation biology and herpetology.  She is interested in all things herpetological, but has a particular affection for population biology, turtle ecology and conservation.  She had worked in the herpetology department at the Riverbanks Zoo, for the Caretta Research Project studying loggerhead sea turtles on Wassaw Island, GA, and for Georgia DNR on bog turtle monitoring and restoration.  Theresa's honors thesis research merged species distributon modeling and estimating occupancy and detection rates for bog turtles with the aim of guiding efficient state inventory and monitoring efforts.


Theresa was a remarkable undergraduate.  She served two terms as co-president of the Herpetological Society at the University of Georgia, and as an undergraduate TA for Herpetology (WILD 4040/6040).  Theresa received a 2011 CURO Summer Fellowship, was the 2012 recipient of the Udall and Goldwater Scholarhips and the AT&T Leadership Award, and was selected as a CUR 2013 Posters on the Hill Scholar.  Theresa also received the 2012 Outstanding Student Poster award at the Turtle Survival Alliance annual meeting.  FUN FACT: Theresa is fluent in math and German, both of which were foreign languages to everyone else in the lab.


Theresa recently completed her M.Sc. in Wildlife at Clemson University, and she is currently working on her Ph.D. in Germany.

Amanda Perofsky
B.Sc. Ecology 2009
Currently: Ph.D. student, Univ. Texas, Austin

Amanda received her B.Sc. in Ecology and was a member of UGA’s honors program.  She did her honors thesis research on temporary emigration and the estimation of larval stream salamander abundance in southern Appalachian headwaters.  Her worked was funded by NSF REU through the Coweeta LTER, and was part of a much larger study understanding the role larval salamanders play in nutrient capture, retention and export in headwater streams and how that may change with shifting climates and land use patterns.  Amanda’s work contributed by providing more robust estimates of larval salamander composition and abundance within headwaters.  Specifically, she showed through mark-recapture that, similar to terrestrial salamanders, larval salamanders show high temporary emigration, and therefore, historic estimates of larval salamander abundance were likely gross underestimates.  In 2009, Amanda was awarded first place for her presentation of her research at the annual Ecology Graduate Research Symposium.  Amanda was also an officer in the Herpetological Society at the University of Georgia, a member of the Ecology Club, and the program coordinator for the campus radio station.

Amanda went on to work at NIH and complete her Ph.D. at the University of Texas studying disease ecology and evolution. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at NIH Fogarty International Center.

Click here to visit Amanda's website.

Daniel Sollenberger
BFR Wildlife 2007
Currently: Instructor, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College

Daniel Sollenberger recieved his B.Sc. in Wildlife. He is arguably the best naturalist I have ever met.  For his senior thesis, Daniel inventoried the stream salamander community of Spring Hollow, which is a property endowed to the Odum School of Ecology by the eminent ecologists, Eugene Odum.


Daniel went on to complete his masters at Western Carolina University where he wisely continued to work on salamander. He was an instructor in the wildlife program at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College and is now a state herpetologist for GA Department of Natural Resources.

Jessica Harper
BFR Wildlife 2007

Jessica received her B.Sc. in Wildlife and her senior thesis focused on identifying user conflicts in accessing State Wildlife Action Plans.  Specifically, she focused on incompatibilities in classifications of habitats and issue priorities among sections of the Georgia Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, and she quantified differences among users in how they interpreted habitat classifications.  Her work showed remarkable variability among professionals in how they perceive conservation classification priorities with the document.  She proposed a reclassification system that used consistent categories among the document, and then used those categories to identify combinations of habitats, taxa, and issues of greatest conservation priority for Georgia.  This information would be useful in the development and prioritization of research and conservation action proposals.


After graduating, Jessica worked as a program coordinator for GA EPD before returning to Warnell to complete her Masters in Natural Resources.

Kerry Holcomb
BSFR Wildife 2007

Kerry Holcomb received his B.Sc. in Wildlife, and hconducted his senior “Theses on Feces” under the direction of Dr. Robert Warren [undeniably the greatest thesis title every].  Kerry was a chronic fixture in our lab.  In addition to helping on a variety of projects such as our stilt-grass invasion work, Kerry served as a lead technician on our Diamondback Terrapin project for two years.  He also established a diamondback terrapin road mortality project with the Georgia Sea Turtle Center that continues today.  Kerry left many marks on our program, some of which we cleaned up, and some we still have not found.


Kerry received his M.Sc. in Biology from Western Washington University where he studied Gila monsters.


Selected publications from Kerry's work at UGA:

Grosse, A. M., J. D. van Dijk, K. L. Holcomb, and J. C. Maerz. 2009. Diamondback terrapin mortality in crab pots in a Georgia tidal marsh. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 8:98-100.


Davis, A.K. and K.L. Holcomb. 2008. Intraerythrocytic inclusion bodies in painted turtles (Chrysemys picta picta) with measurements of affected cells. Comparative Clinical Pathology 17(1): 51-54.

Tyler Thigpen
BSFR Widlife 2005

Tyler received her B.Sc. in Wildlife and she did her senior thesis research under the direction of Dr. Stephen Castleberry in collaboration with our lab.  She studied whether burlap could be used as an artificial cover to monitor green salamanders.  While at UGA, Tyler was also instrumental in the establishment of the outreach program for Herpetological Society at the University of Georgia, dedicating a great deal of her time to visiting schools to educate children about reptiles and amphibians.


Selected publications from Tylers time at UGA:

Thigpen, T. F., W. J. Humphries, and J. C. Maerz. 2010.  Effectiveness of using artificial shelters to sample arboreal green salamander populations in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia and North Carolina.  Herpetological Review 41:159-162.

© 2019 by John Maerz.

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