Rob Denton

Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology

Old Man of the Forest

Our department’s graduate students took our fall camping trip over the weekend to southern Ohio, and we were treated to a really special animal: That’s a big timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) hiding out under some fall leaves. This endangered species is both secretive and well camouflaged, so you could easily walk right past one of these bad boys even if you were lucky enough to be near one. This particular snake is part of a long-term study to understand the movements and behavior of these snakes in Ohio. A radio transmitter guided the volunteers who track these snakes directly to this individual, and we […]

Small rattles, big personalities

In the dark recesses of Aronoff laboratory, many are surprised to know that our lab has an entire room filled with rattlesnakes. In fact, most visitors don’t believe us until we show them. Behind a plain, gray door lives a group of dusky pigmy rattlesnakes (Sistrurus miliarius barbouri). This group of animals has been one of the main sources of data for our lab’s efforts in studying pit viper venom and how it relates to these animals diets and behavior. This work is currently being done by our principal investigator, Dr. Lisle Gibbs, and current PhD student Sarah Smiley. Right now, […]

A research lab that herps together, works together

Back in August before the semester began, a good portion of the Gibbs lab headed down to Florida for a week of science and reptiles/amphibians. We were visiting some colleagues/collaborators at Florida State University as well as helping Sarah Smiley catch pigmy rattlesnakes for her thesis research.Believe it or not, I’ve just recently downloaded the photos from my camera. Here are some of the interesting things we did and interesting creatures we found: I almost ordered two slices because I didn’t believe that they were “as big as your head”. David and Lisle appreciating the alligators Sarah took us swimming […]

Field Herpetology at the Southwest Research Station (Part 2)

More photos from the 2013 Field Herpetology course! The first female Leopard Lizard (Gambelia wislizenii) I have ever seen hold still: Herpetologist photobomb: Round-tailed Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma modestum): Twin-spotted Rattlesnake (Crotalus priceii): Huge male! Think rattlensakes are mean? Look at this individual hiding his head. Bad lighting, but a beautiful snake. My very first Bunchgrass Lizard (Sceloporus slevini). A tough find all the way up the mountains: Here is some of the variation in Long-nosed Snakes (Rhinocheilus lecontei):

Field Herpetology at the Southwest Research Station (Part 1)

We are three days through the 2013 Field Herpetology course at the Southwest Research Station. Whew, what a whirlwind this course is for the second year in a row. We have students from all over the country: college students, retired doctors, government contractors, and environmental consultants. I’ve been busy tweeting some of our activities, but need a place to show you some of the photos of the class at work and the animals we are finding. So here ya go.A handsome Greater Earless Lizard (Cophosaurus texanus): Dr. Carol Simon gives a seminar on the natural history of the Chiricahua Mountains: My […]

Arizona Black Rattlesnakes at Muleshoe Ranch

On our way to the 2013 Field Herpetology course at the Southwest Research Station, Dr. Emily Taylor, Matt Holding, and myself took a side adventure to look for rattlesnakes. Our destination: Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area in southeastern Arizona.Muleshoe is operated by Melissa Amarello and Jeff Smith, who both do some fascinating work tracking rattlesnakes and documenting the secret habits of these cool creatures. Muleshoe is absolutely crawling with rattlesnakes, as evidenced by our first hour of looking around: Two professionals doing there thing: Matt Holding (left) and Jeff Smith (right) Within the first ten minutes, we had already found […]

Get to Know a Grad Student: Juli Goldenberg

Next up for Get to Know a Grad Student: Juli Goldenberg, Masters student at San Diego State University Juli in her native environment. She is demonstrating the extremely difficult “No-look pipette transfer”. What kind of research do you do? Please give the scientific version and the non-scientist version. (science-y version) The broad goal of my research is to improve coalescent-based methods of multilocus species tree inference and species delimitation. Specifically, my project focuses on elucidating the species limits and phylogenetic relationships within the Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) species complex – a wide-ranging group of rattlesnakes that currently contains three recognized […]