Article published on Herps of HSC!

Dr. Rachel Goodman and E. Davis Carter ’15 recently published an article, “Survey of Herpetofauna on the Campus of Hampden-Sydney College in Prince Edward County, Virginia” in Catesbeiana (available here). They summarize findings from various surveys (including student research projects and Ecology and Herpetology class trips) for reptiles and amphibians that were conducted during 2010 – 2014 on our beautiful 1,300 acre campus. We can now boast of having 4 salamanders, 6 frogs, 5 turtles, 8 snakes, and 3 lizards at HSC. The authors report on demographic data when available for a species, and compare detection rate for herps using artificial cover objects (tin roofing and plywood sheets) laid out in the woods.

CLICK HERE to get a PDF download with images for the Herps of HSC! Herps HSC example

Davis is currently pursuing his Master’s in Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and is hoping to continue his PhD this year in the lab of Dr. Matthew Gray.

Davis Carter '15 and Dr. Goodman working with a specimen

Davis Carter ’15 and Dr. Goodman working with a specimen

Wildlife Biology class takes weekend trip to Eastern Shore


Dr. Goodman’s BIOL 385 Wildlife Biology class took a weekend field trip in October to the Eastern Shore Birding & Wildlife Festival.  We camped for 2 nights in Kiptopeke State Park and went to workshops in bird identification and bird watching for  the ornithology portion of the course.


The Delmarva peninsula is an amazing location for watching birds in the migration season, because birds flying south and funneled to the tip as they attempt to stay over land for as long as possible before crossing water.  The park we stayed in has a “Hawk Watch” there people sight and count birds of prey as they fly unidirectionally overhead- typically they see over 1,000 hawks daily!


In total, we saw and heard 40 species of birds (and some bottle-nosed dolphins). We also hear a fascinating keynote lecture by a scientist with the American Bird Conservancy about the status of birds and their habitats, and the history and progress of bird conservation since the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Field work in the Bahamas

In May, Dr. Goodman assisted a group of ecologists working on a unique island system in Great Abaco, Bahamas.  For 10 days, she and Amber Wright of University of Hawaii caught, marked, and measured Anolis sagrei lizards derived from populations introduced to 16 tiny islands two years ago.  These islands will be compared to 16 additional islands that did not receive lizard introductions to determine the impact of “top down” predator effects on these ecosystems.  Plant growth and invertebrate populations are being monitored by ecologists Jonah Piovia-ScottLouie Yang, and David Spiller.  This island system is also being used to determine the impact of “bottom up” effects of resource subsidies, in the form of hundreds of pounds of seaweed delivered to 16 of the 32 islands.

Bahamas 101 P1030354 P1030196 Bahamas 5 sm

Dr. Rachel Goodman receives grant renewal

Dr. Rachel Goodman recently received a grant renewal from the Thomas F. and Kate Miller Jeffress Memorial Trust.  Her research explores interactions between ranavirus, an emerging wildlife disease, and chemical pollutants using a model system in reptiles.  An experiment in summer 2014 will examine how juvenile red-eared slider turtles respond to ranavirus in the presence of commonly used herbicides.

Davis Carter presents at VA Herpetological Society

E. Davis Carter ’15 presented a poster, “Survey of Herpetofauna and Ranavirus at Hampden-Sydney College,” at the annual meeting of the Virginia Herpetological Society in Richmond.  The October 5 meeting was attended by academics, fish and wildlife managers, and hobbyists from around the state.  His poster resulted from work conducted during this semester as an Independent Study course and research in the previous summer funded by Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges and the HSC Student-Faculty Summer Research Program.

Sandy River Reservoir Cleanup

Fourteen students from Dr. Goodman’s Environmental Biology course, Circle K International club, and the International Club at HSC volunteered for a cleanup at Sandy River Reservoir despite the drizzly grey day on October 14.  This event was organized through Clean Virginia Waterways and the Ocean Conservancy.

We had 14 people work to collect 8 bags full of about 70 pounds of trash, including 400 cigarette butts!



To find out more about Clean Virginia Waterways and the cleanup events they have all over VA:

To can find out more about the Ocean Conservancy and the great, international work they do:

Herpetology class gets good finds on campus

On April 16, Dr. Goodman’s Herpetology class spent the afternoon herping on campus and had some good finds!  We found 6 species in Chalgrove Lake and 3 species on the Wilson Trail in just a couple hours.

juvenile Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon)

Mat with the snake

Chris and Dr. Goodman take a “selfy” with frogs

Will holds a Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris)

Chris gives this Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta) the thumbs up

The class poses with a Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber) caught on the Wilson Trail


Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber)


Hakeem with a Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)


Making Rain Barrels for the Big Event

On Saturday April 20, students from Dr. Goodman’s BIOL 185 “Water Resources and Environmental Issues” and the club Circle K International volunteered for the HSC annual Big Event.  They created 50 rain barrels that will be used in an educational workshop by Clean Virginia Waterways, a local non-profit group.  A rain barrel is installed to catch water from a rooftop, which can then be used for watering lawns and other non-drinking purposes.  This saves precious drinking water from being depleted, and also prevents excessive runoff during storms (which can overload water treatment plants in cities).

Meeting of Southeastern Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation

Dr. Goodman’s Herpetology class (BIOL 385) took a 4-day trip to the annual meeting of Southeastern Partners in Amphibian & Reptile Conservation in February 2013.  We stayed in the lodge at Hickory Knob State Park in South Carolina and enjoyed a limited amount of “herping” due to cold weather during the stay (students below show our limited findings).  The meeting was full of informative talks, workshops, and posters presenting research and applications of concepts covered in class.  The HSC students, in their sophomore and junior years, engaged in lively conversation throughout the weekend with graduate students, post-docs and faculty, and also working professionals in a variety of government and non-profit roles.

Students with cold, sleepy Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis)

Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)









Road trip!

Ecology field trip to the Eastern Virginia Birding & Wildlife Festival

Dr. Goodman and students in her Ecology class (BIOL 203) took a 3-day field trip to the Eastern Virginia Birding & Wildlife Festival in October of 2012.  They stayed in a rustic bunkhouse in Kipotpeke State Park and enjoyed campfire dinner, including first ever smores for a couple students!

Highlights of the trip included a keynote lecture by David Allen Sibley, famous for his illustrated bird guides, a visit to the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, and a workshop / field trip to learn about and identify various species of dragonflies.


 We also took a field trip to the Savage Neck Dunes Natural Area Preserve (image below at trailhead), which is one of the few intact Chesapeake Bay coastal dune ecosystems that remain in Virginia.  Rare plants and animals there include the federally listed Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetle (sign below).