Tuberville Lab
@ the University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

Lab Personnel


 

RESEARCH STAFF

 

GRADUATE STUDENTS

Jacob with desert tortoise Jacob Daly is a Masterís student at the University of Georgiaís Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, where he is co-advised by Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Clint Moore. He is a recent graduate of the University of Louisville, where he studied Biology and Ecology (B.S.). His thesis will focus on improving existing methods for head-starting Mojave Desert Tortoise hatchlings (Gopherus agassizii), in the effort to bolster recruitment in this threatened species. His study site is in the Mojave National Preserve, CA and the project is in collaboration with Drs. Kurt Buhlmann (UGA/SREL) and Brian Todd (University of California, Davis). Jacob first got involved with wildlife when he started volunteering at the Louisville Zoo at age 12. These early interactions with captive animals gave him a lasting passion for wildlife biology and conservation. As a junior in college, he began studying territorial behavior in fish, but his interest soon shifted to applied wildlife management and conservation. He then spent a summer as a technician on a large mammal project in New Mexico, assessing the effects of habitat restoration treatments on animal movements and habitat use. He has since gained additional wildlife experience mitigating bird-aircraft collisions. Jacob is interested in applied conservation, with specific interest in manipulative methods such as reintroduction, head-starting, and habitat restoration.

 

David with brown snake David Lee Haskins is a Ph.D. student in the University of Georgiaís Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program. He was raised in Philadelphia, Tennessee, and received his B.S. in Biology with a minor in Statistics from Maryville College in 2014. As an undergraduate, David performed research on the small mammal prey base of reintroduced American marten (Martes americana) in conjunction with Grand Valley State University and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians in the Manistee National Forest of Michigan. David completed his M.S. in the summer of 2016 under co-advisors Drs. Tracey Tuberville (SREL) and Robert Bringolf (Warnell), which focused on the physiological effects of coal ash contaminants in the yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta). Under the continued direction of Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Robert Bringolf, Davidís doctoral research will focus on the accumulation and effects of a widespread contaminant, mercury, in the brown watersnake (Nerodia taxispilota). His overall research interests include ecotoxicology, life history, evolution, and conservation of herpetofauna.

 

Rebecca holding radiotransmittered desert tortoise Rebecca McKee is pursuing her Masterís degree in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources under Dr. Tracey Tuberville and in collaboration with Dr. Kurt Buhlmann. Originally from North Carolina, Rebecca earned her B.S in environmental science from Davidson College. As an undergraduate, she studied how bycatch reduction device (BRD) presence and orientation affects diamondback terrapin behavior and mortality in crab traps. Most recently, she worked for Pennsylvania State University on a study assessing how translocation affects desert tortoise behavior and disease transmission. Through these experiences, Rebecca has developed a strong interest in applied ecology and wildlife behavior. Her masterís research, based at Aiken Gopher Tortoise Preserve, will focus on evaluating the effectiveness of using waif animals as a strategy to bolster declining gopher tortoise populations.

 

Nicole with hatchling alligatorNicole White is pursuing her Masterís degree at the Daniel B. Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at UGA, where she is co-advised by Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Jeffrey Hepinstall-Cymerman. She grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and she graduated from Birmingham-Southern College with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Spanish. She became interested in herpetology after doing an internship working with loggerhead sea turtles in Tampa, Florida at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Since graduating, Nicole has served as a research coordinator at two sea turtle nesting projects in remote areas of Costa Rica and as an AmeriCorps Research Member at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center in 2012 and 2013. While she has worked primarily towards the conservation of sea turtles, Nicole has an avid interest in studying conservation and herpetology on a broader scale. She started at SREL as a technician working primarily on gopher tortoise monitoring projects. Her graduate research focuses on the characterizing the social behavior and ecology of the gopher tortoise at Archbold Biological Station in Venus, Florida, in collaboration with Tracey Tuberville and Dr. Betsie Rothermel. Nicoleís research interests include animal behavior and ecology, conservation ecology, and human-wildlife interactions.

 

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

Michaela setting trapsMichaela Lambert is a senior majoring in Natural Resources and Environmental Science as well as Equine Science and Management at the University of Kentucky. Michaelaís research experience began in 2015 when she started working in Dr. Steven Priceís Herpetology and Stream Ecology Lab at UK. Research projects that Michaela has participated in include a mark-recapture study of natricine snakes to examine anthropogenic effects on behavior, a study evaluating both trap effectiveness when capturing the Common Mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) and gene flow among populations, the genetic analysis of endangered freshwater mussels, a study examining the impacts of forest management techniques on reptile and amphibian species, and evaluating wetland suitability as amphibian habitat. Her current research in the Price lab focuses on evaluating the relationship between anuran calling patterns and environmental conditions. As part of the Radioecology REU, Michaela is working with Drs. Tuberville and Pilgrim investigating the effects of contaminants on the metabolic rate of water snakes.

 

Kyle with snakeKyle Brown grew up in Simpsonville, South Carolina. He is currently a senior at the University of South Carolina Upstate where he is pursuing a degree in Biology. Kyle became a member of Dr. Melissa Pilgrimís undergraduate research group Upstate Herpetology in January 2015. His research experience includes conducting anuran call surveys for the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program and using automated recording systems to monitor the calling activity of anurans in the Piedmont region of South Carolina. Kyleís love for herpetology began at an early age, when he would spend many hours searching the ponds and creeks near his home for frogs and turtles. As part of the 2016 REU program, Kyle is working with Drs. Pilgrim and Tuberville studying the uptake and effects of radionuclides and mercury in aquatic snakes at the Savannah River site. Kyleís research interests include the effects of climate change and anthropogenic disturbance on herpetofauna, as well as wildlife conservation as a whole. Upon graduation, Kyle plans to attend graduate school with the ultimate goal of obtaining a career as a biologist with the Department of Natural Resources or the United States Fish and Wildlife.

 

Amelia with pine snakeAmelia Russell transferred as a senior from Chaminade University of Honolulu to the University of South Carolina Upstate. Her research experiences include working with Dr. Jonathan Storm on two ongoing projects. One project involves collecting capture-mark-recapture data from white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) within urban greenways and rural areas in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The second project uses motion-triggered cameras and geographic information systems to investigate how the distribution of American coyotes (Canis latrans) impact white-tailed deer (Odoeoileus virginianus) and feral cat (Felis catus) occurrence in both urban greenways and urban areas of Spartanburg County. In addition to her work with mammals, Amelia is an active member of Upstate Herpetology, an undergraduate research group managed by Dr. Melissa Pilgrim. She assists in ongoing anuran bioacoustics studies using automated recording systems (ARS) distributed in Spartanburg wetlands and volunteers for the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program (NAAMP). Amelia is currently a research technician for Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Melissa Pilgrim. She is working alongside students in the SREL REU program to investigate the effects of radionuclides and mercury on water snake physiology. Ameliaís future goals include pursuing a Masterís degree in Conservation Biology and becoming a Wildlife Biologist or Environmental Educator.

 

CO-PIs AFFILIATED WITH SREL

KurtKurt Buhlmann is a conservation ecologist whose research interests include life history and evolutionary ecology with application for conservation and management of amphibians and reptiles. He has worked with non-profit, state, and federal agencies on habitat management projects, including prescribed fire and wetlands restoration. He and Tracey are co-PIs and collaborate on several reintroduction projects for tortoises and freshwater turtles. They also both serve as mentors to students and technicians working on these projects. Kurt Buhlmann is a Research Associate at University of Georgiaís Savannah River Ecology Lab.

 

Kimberly with rattlesnakeKimberly Andrews is the head of the research program on Jekyll Island, Georgia, and graduate faculty at the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia. She and Tracey collaborate on a range of projects investigating management approaches of reptiles and amphibians in anthropogenically-altered landscapes. Currently, they are conducting individual-based modeling with Bess Harris and Nate Nibbelink to assess population thresholds of several herpetofauna species in response to climate change and altered wetland hydroperiods. Kimberly and Tracey are also working with Gary Mills at Savannah River Ecology Laboratory assessing the level of PCB contamination of American alligators on the Georgia coast as part of Greg Skupien's (Andrewsí MS student) thesis work. Kimberly has worked at Savannah River Ecology Laboratory in the Herpetology and Outreach programs for over 10 years, where she conducted her graduate studies and has continued her work as a researcher and educator. For more information on Kimberlyís research program, please visit her lab website or Facebook page.

 

MelissaMelissa Pilgrim is Director of Research and an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of South Carolina Upstate. She obtained a B.S. in Biology from Stetson University, a M.S. in Biology from Southeastern Louisiana University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas. Melissa completed her post-doctoral work at the University of Georgiaís Savannah River Ecology Laboratory prior to accepting her current position with USC Upstate. Her primary research focus involves an integrative approach to investigating how ecosystems respond to environmental change (natural and anthropogenic). She is interested in large scale questions regarding anthropogenic influences on nutrient cycling and understanding how individual animal responses to environmental variation impact population level processes. Thus, her research program integrates field ecology, biogeochemistry (e.g., stable isotopes), and ecophysiology. Her research platform coupled with experience mentoring undergraduates and managing professional development opportunities for undergraduates makes her well-suited to her current work at SREL with the NSF Radioecology Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. As part of the Radioecology REU, Melissa will be onsite at SREL each summer helping to manage program activities and assessment, as well as mentoring participants. She and Tracey Tuberville will co-mentor REU students conducting research on environmental contaminants as stressors and as tracers in reptiles.

 

RECENT ALUMNI

Jared Green was a Masterís student at the University of Georgiaís Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, co-advised by Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Richard Chandler. Jaredís research, in collaboration with PI Dr. Kurt Buhlmann (UGA/SREL), investigated the difference in growth and survival rates between headstarted and non-headstarted Blandingís turtle hatchlings.

 

Matt Hamilton Hamilton was a Masterís student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia under Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Robert Bringolf. Mattís thesis research focused on the effects of long-term stressors, such as contaminants, on the stress response, immune function, and population status of American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) on the Savannah River Site.

 

Dan Quinn was a Masterís student in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. Dan's research focused on the use of head-started gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) for augmenting populations in managed areas. His work was conducted under Drs. Tracey Tuberville and Kurt Buhlmann of SREL, and in collaboration with Dr. Terry Norton of St. Catherines Island Foundation. He was co-advised by Dr. Jeffrey Hepinstall-Cymerman at Warnell.