Ecology trip to York River State Park

Dr. Rachel Goodman and several students in her Ecology class (BIOL 203) spent an afternoon at York River State Park in the fall of 2012.  We took a guided canoe tour of Taskinas Creek and learned about tidal wetlands and the important roles they play in dampening storm surges and serving as nurseries for many species in the Chesapeake Bay.  We spotted some of the unique animals that inhabit this community, including a few species of crabs (Daniel Adams holding one below) and several bird species.  We also took out seines and dip nets to catch a few fish (Hakeem Mohammed and Jason Haas seining below).

Summer research on possible virus/herbicide interactions in turtles

Francis Polakiewicz  (’14) and Dr. Rachel Goodman recently wrapped up an experiment investigating interactions between chemical exposure and a wildlife disease on the health and survival of turtles.  The two were awarded a Hampden-Sydney Student Faculty Summer Research grant for the project, and Polakiewicz  was also awarded a Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges Summer Undergraduate Science Research Fellowship Award.  In their experiment, juvenile red-eared slider turtles were exposed to combinations of the emerging infectious disease ranavirus and four commonly used herbicides: Roundup, ShoreKlear, 2,4-D, and Atrazine.  Polakiewicz  and Dr. Goodman studied the growth and survival of turtles in these treatments for 5 weeks.  Collaborator Dr. Debra Miller at the University of Tennessee Knoxville is currently examining tissues for evidence of infection and organ deterioration.  Results of this study will help determine why some wild turtle populations carry the virus symptomatically, while others experience virus-associated dieoffs.  If certain herbicides cause increased morbidity and mortality, this information could inform application practices of land managers.

Turtle showing swollen neck, a symptom of ranavirus infection

Dr. Goodman and Yonathan Ararso ’13 publish note on pathogen in local frogs

Th recent volume of Herpetological Review featured results of surveillance for two wildlife diseases, ranavirus and the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, conducted by Dr. Rachel Goodman and HSC student Yonathan Tarekegne Ararso ’13.  This study found the fungus, which has been implicated in global amphibian declines, in low prevalence among frogs from campus ponds and a nearby Wildlife Management Area.  However, no frogs showed any symptoms of disease.  The survey failed to detect ranavirus in area frogs, despite the presence of this pathogen in a co-occurring turtles species.

More Service from BIOL 108…

Several students from Dr. Goodman's Environmental Biology class cleaned up 
cigarette butts around fraternity circle on Thurs, Dec 1. Patrick Adams, 
George Parrish, John Parrish, Matthew Gates, Matt Vail, Ibn Salaam, and 
Jack Gibson (pictures below) each filled a sandwich bag full of butts- 
yummy! For more about the problem that cigarette butts pose as pollution, 
On Saturday, Dec 3, Colin Nickerson, Derrick Maxwell, and Patrick Lynch
(pictured below) did a litter cleanup on the access road behind V-DOT.
Among the regular trash items, they found over a hundred glass bottles,
a tire, and an old street sign.
Later on that day, Colin Nickerson, Nay Oo, Cody Murphey, and Jackson
Parker (pictured below) headed over to Briery Creek Wildlife Management
Area, just south of the H-SC campus. They cleaned up trash around the
dock, main parking lot area, and nearby walking trail.

Cleanups for BIOL 108 Environmental Biology

Two groups of students recently conducted litter cleanups at/near H-SC as part of Dr. Goodman’s BIOL 108 Environmental Biology class.

On November 15, Matthew Gates, George Parrish, Mack Garret, John Parrish, and Matt Vail (pictured above) picked up hundreds of cigarette butts around the major dorm building and classrooms on campus.  Most people don’t realize that these are plastic, NOT biodegradable, and toxic hazards to wildlife for years or decades after disposal (click here for more info).  So remember to always mind your butts and tell your friends and family to safely dispose of them in proper receptacles!

On November 7, the following students (some shown above) collected several bags of litter from a local highway near the H-SC campus:  Matthew Gates, George Parrish, Matt Vail, Patrick Adams, John Parrish, Alexander Tharp, Ryan Davis, Nick Caporale, Mac Garret.

Nice job, guys!!

Sandy River Reservoir Cleanup on Oct 30


Dr. Goodman leading the charge

Dr. Goodman leading the charge

H-SC students representing Circle K International

On Sunday October 30,         11 volunteers including Drs. Rachel Goodman and Mike Wolyniak and H-SC students conducted a waterway cleanup as part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. This event involves people from over 75 countries removing millions of pounds of trash from beaches and waterways, and is headed locally by Clean Virginia Waterways.

In two hours, the crew picked up over 100 pounds of litter, including plastic bags, food wrappers, and fishing lines which are dangerous for animals that can be entangled and choked by them.

Over 200 cigarette butts were collected. Most people don’t realize that these are plastic, NOT biodegradable, and toxic hazards to wildlife for years or decades after disposal (click here for more info). So remember to always mind your butts and tell your friends and family to safely dispose of them in proper receptacles!

Ryan Davis picking litter out of the brush

Ryan Davis picking litter out of the brush

Students from BIOL 108 Environmental Biology proudly display a retrieved tire

Students from BIOL 108 Environmental Biology proudly display a retrieved tire

Tyler Moore Independent Study with Waterfowl

For the spring 2011 semester, Tyler Moore conducted an Independent Study on Waterfowl Ecology & Management with waterfowl biologists in North Carolina and Virginia, under the supervision of Dr. Rachel Goodman.

Tyler assisted with waterfowl banding at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on the Outer Banks of NC with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC), and at a salt marsh on the Eastern Shore of VA with the VA Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF).

Waterfowl banding operations are important because they help monitor the distribution, harvest rates and survival rates for many waterfowl species. This data is important because it helps the agencies determine appropriate hunting regulations for each hunting season.

Building Rain Barrels for Clean Virginia Waterways

On Thursday April 21, a group of H-SC students from Dr. Goodman’s BIOL 185 Water Resources & Environmental Issues course (plus 1 volunteer from CKI) teamed up to build rain barrels.  These 41 barrels will be distributed at upcoming educational workshops run by Clean Virginia Waterways.

Rain barrels help the environment by conserving water, which does not have to be treated and pumped to the home if it is coming out of a barrel.

Also, rain barrels reduce runoff, which can cause erosion, plus carry fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals into streams where they are very damaging.

If your roof’s area is 1,200 square feet (30 x 40 feet), then 1 inch of rain equals more than 700 gallons! You can harvest this rainwater which otherwise would be lost to runoff.

For more information on upcoming workshops with rain barrels, visit Clean Virginia Waterways.

Talk by Visiting Bat Biologist

Dr.  Amy Turmelle visited our campus and spoke to our students about her recent research and experiences working with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) out of Atlanta.  In the past couple years, she has traveled with a team of scientists to 5 countries to study and test both people and wildlife for transmissible diseases.  This collaborative approach between ecologists, public health officials, veterinarians, epidemiologists, and more, is what she describes as the emerging “One Health” approach to studying emerging infectious diseases.

Summer research on wildlife diseases


Yonathan Tarekegne Ararso.– Over the summer, I spent 8 weeks working on a Herpetology research project with Dr. Rachel Goodman. The project was a survey on the presence of infectious diseases Ranavirus and the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis—which have contributed to the significant loss of the world’s amphibian & reptilian population. Our survey took place on three different sites in the Prince Edward County area: Briery Creek Wild Life Management, Chalgrove Lake (HSC), and Tadpole Hole Pond (HSC). We captured and collected data on over 170 turtles and 140 frogs. From the sites, we collected tissue samples and swabs to be tested via polymerase chain reaction (PCR) at a laboratory in University of Georgia, College of Veterinary Medicine

A significant part of the project was field work, so I learned a lot about trapping, hand capturing, collecting data, and handling amphibians and reptiles. The research and writing aspect of the project was also a great experience.