Archive for category Herpetology

What do Robert C. Stebbins and Stephen King Have in Common?

What does the late herpetologist Robert C. Stebbins and the master of horror Stephen King have in common?

According to AbeBooks.com, not only did both authors write about all things cold-blooded, they also turned up among BookFinder.com’s list of most-searched-for-out-of-print-books-of-2017. According to the report, Stebbins’ Peterson Field Guides to Western Reptiles and Amphibians was keeping good company with such classics as Halloween, the 1979 novelization of the 1978 Michael Meyers horror movie hit; the coming of age classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High; Madonna’s controversial Sex; and the George Micheal biography Bare.

Why Stebbins was keeping such strange bedfellows last year is anyone’s guess. Hopefully, it means the next generation of herpetologists was stocking up on the west coast’s quintessential field guide. But if the world runs out of Stebbins’ 3rd edition any time soon, you can rest assured that a new edition is in the works. This October, the Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles & Amphibians (Fourth Edition) by Robert Stebbins will hit the shelves with updates by co-author Samuel McGinnis.

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Rare Pond Species Survey Techniques Workshop 2018

RarePond2014This spring, the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation and The Wildlife Project are back at it, sponsoring the Rare Pond Species Survey Techniques Workshop, March 24-25, 2018 at the Laguna Environmental Center, Santa Rosa, CA. Workshop instructors Dave Cook and Jeff Alvarez will cover aquatic survey techniques for California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense), California red-legged frog (Rana draytoni), and western pond turtle (Clemmys marmorata). After-hours field trips will provide hands-on experience with all three species, including dip net sampling, spotlight surveys, and visual encounter and trapping.

Dave and Jeff, whom I’ve known for years, are experienced herpetologists who have logged inestimable hours in the field between them studying these species. Their knowledge is priceless, but the workshop worth every penny.

You can learn more about the workshop by visiting the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation website.

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The 2018 Jepson Herbarium Workshops

The Friends of the Jepson Herbarium recently announced the program for The Jepson Herbarium Workshop’s 2018 series on botanical and ecological subjects. These programs are open to the general public and consist of basic, introductory one- to four-day basic botany workshops and more technical one- to five-day weekend workshops.

The basic botany series includes “Introductory Plant Morphology for the Botanically-Curious” and the not-to-miss “Fifty Families in the Field: San Francisco Bay Area,” an excellent workshop I had the pleasure of taking in 2007 with instructor Linda Beidleman (co-author of Plants of the San Francisco Bay Region: Mendocino to Monterey) (and, in the past, the late ever-entertaining Richard Beidleman, the author of California’s Frontier Naturalists which was reviewed with great enthusiasm here). Among this year’s technical weekend workshop series are such select, wonkish offerings as “Introductory Plant Families for Botanical Rookies,” “Amphibians and Reptiles of the San Francisco Bay Area,” “California’s Native Bees: Biology, Ecology, and Identification,” “Northern California Nudibranchs,” and “Introduction to Fire Ecology of the Sierra Nevada.

The workshops run throughout the year, but class sizes are limited and waiting lists back up quickly. Sign up soon.

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Herpetological Review: The Herpetological Art of Robert Cyril Stebbins

It has been some time since my last contribution to the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles‘ journal, Herpetological Review (see also SSAR’s facebook page), so I was honored when I was asked to contribute a retrospective on the late herpetologist and artist Dr. Robert (“Bob”) Cyril Stebbins (March 31, 1915—September 23, 2013) for the column, “Art in Herpetology.”

Hot off the presses in the second issue of the 2017 volume (page 472-473), The Herpetological Art of Robert Cyril Stebbins looks back at the life and career of a man whose contributions to the field of herpetology are still not only celebrated, but put to work on a daily basis as biologists young and old pick up their copy of Stebbins’ field guide, A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians, and thumb through the pages to identify this or that lizard, check a species’ range, or compare a specimen to the carefully illustrated plates within.

In the process of preparing this piece, I had the opportunity to handle Dr. Stebbins field notebooks and original intricate illustrations at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and Bancroft Library, and had the pleasure of speaking with Professor Emeritus David B. Wake, former Director and Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, and Theodore Papenfuss, research specialist at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, about their experience working alongside this venerable herpetologist. But nothing says more about Dr. Stebbins’ passion for herpetology than his artwork.

Full Citation: Bettelheim, Matthew P. 2017. Art in Herpetology: The Herpetological Art of Robert Cyril Stebbins. Herpetological Review 48(2): p 472-473.

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The 2017 Jepson Herbarium Workshops

The Friends of the Jepson Herbarium recently announced the program for The Jepson Herbarium Workshop’s 2017 series on botanical and ecological subjects. These programs are open to the general public and consist of basic, introductory one- to four-day basic botany workshops and more technical one- to five-day weekend workshops.

The basic botany series includes “Introductory Plant Morphology for the Botanically-Curious” and the not-to-miss “Fifty Families in the Field: San Francisco Bay Area,” an excellent workshop I had the pleasure of taking in 2007 with instructor Linda Beidleman (co-author of Plants of the San Francisco Bay Region: Mendocino to Monterey) (and, in the past, the late ever-entertaining Richard Beidleman, the author of California’s Frontier Naturalists which was reviewed with great enthusiasm here). Among this year’s technical weekend workshop series are such select, wonkish offerings as “Northern California Seaweeds,” “Butterflies: Biology, Behavior, and Identification,” “Exploring the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness,” “Climate Change in California: Past, Present, and Future,” and “Insect-Induced Plant Galls of California.

The workshops run throughout the year, but class sizes are limited and waiting lists back up quickly. Sign up soon.

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