Rob Denton

Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology

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 3)

I had a fantastic time teaching at the Southwestern Research Station’s Field Herpetology course this year. We returned to Ohio on Wednesday and definitely needed a couple of days to recover from eight straight days of hiking, teaching, and chasing after reptiles/amphibians. I had a few more pictures of animals and class activities, so we needed a part three to finish things up. Last beautiful day at the research station: The students had an awesome time catching Sonora Mud Turtles (Kinosternon sonoriense) with Dr. Justin Congdon, Professor Emeritus at the University of Georgia. He’s about the coolest guy you could […]

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 […]

Herpin’ the Florida Panhandle

A few weeks ago I was in beautiful St. George Island, Florida on vacation with my family. A big part of vacations for me is running around searching for creatures. I was able to spend a good amount of time exploring Apalachicola National Forest and Tate’s Hell State Forest. It was fantastic, and I wanted to share some of the species that I turned up. First off, here is a Scarlet Snake (Cemophora coccinea) that was found while night driving. These beautiful snakes spend most of their time under the leaf litter hunting for eggs of other reptiles.  A lovely […]

Hardy Kern: Parthenogenesis 101

An important component of our lab here at Ohio State is our group of undergraduate students/volunteers/researchers. Even though these students have schedules full of challenging classes, work, and other responsibilities, they still find time to help us take care of captive animals, meet once a week to talk about science, and even conduct their own research. For this blog post, one of our students, Hardy Kern, submitted an article that he wrote up about a topic that has recently captured his imagination. Here’s Hardy: Putting it plainly, I’m an animal nerd. For as long as I can remember I have been […]

Catching diamondback terrapins on Kiawah Island

Turtles. I love them. You love them. From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the University of Maryland Terps, the members of order Testudines are iconic, remarkable animals. Unfortunately, wild turtles have had a hard time in recent historical time, with almost 50% of turtle species endangered or threatened worldwide. In fact, last year (2011) was designated the year of the turtle in order to raise awareness about turtles’ plight.  This past week I was in Kiawah Island, South Carolina participating in the diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) survey ran by Davidson College and The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL). This long-term survey […]