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SES Departmental Seminar with Erika M. Nowak, PhD

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November 14, 2018
11:30 - 12:30
Physical Science (Building 19), Room 103, Northern Arizona University

Erika M. Nowak, PhD
Assistant Research Professor
School of Earth and Sustainability and Department of Biological Sciences

Collaborative and Student-led Research Assists Snake Conservation

nowak ses seminar 2018 11 14

Image courtesy of George Andrejko, Arizona Game and Fish Department

Snake conservation is inherently complicated by ophidiophobia; the fear of snakes. Due in part to the fear of defensive bites and/or envenomation, management of these important predators, particularly venomous species, is often based on human values and perceptions of decreasing snakebite risk, rather than firmly rooted in data on species’ behavior, ecology, and responses to translocation. Dr. Nowak is an expert in rattlesnake management and declining gartersnake conservation. In this presentation, she will provide an overview of her long-term collaborative research in improving management practices for rattlesnakes. She will also summarize current projects at Northern Arizona University examining the distribution, ecology, and captive husbandry of federally-threatened gartersnakes, summarizing the importance of student-led research in aiding species recovery. Throughout the talk, she will focus on the importance of addressing ophidiophobia to improve conservation outcomes for snakes.

Contact Ellie Broadman (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for more information regarding this seminar.

2018 Flagstaff City Council Candidate Forum: August 30th

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Habitat Harmony is excited to co-sponsor this year's Flagstaff City Council Candidate Forum. The Forum will be held from 5:30 to 8:00 pm on August 30th at the Coconino Community College Lone Tree Campus (2800 S. Lone Tree Rd.).

The forum will be held in a round-table format where each candidate will visit with a small group of attendees to answer questions as they rotate from table to table. This format provides the opportunity to ask questions of all the candidates that are important to YOU as well as hear the concerns of other citizens in the community.

In addition to the candidates, representatives of the the local ballot initiatives have been invited to meet with people before the Forum starts. If you have questions about the initiatives you will have the opportunity to get answers and learn more, so come early!

Friend's of Flagstaff's Future and all of the many co-sponsors of the event will also be on hand to answer questions and help you get involved in the important work that they are doing in our community. The groups represented this year include: Sierra Club Platinum Group, Citizens' Climate Lobby, Stand Up! for Flagstaff, Habitat Harmony, Keep Flagstaff Together, Flagstaff Freethinkers, Local First Arizona, Repeal Coalition, and NAIC.

The importance of being involved in local issues cannot be understated! Politics in Washington or even the state level can be distant and out of touch while individuals working with their local representatives can create change to make their immediate surroundings more environmentally sustainable, socially just, and economically prosperous.

Come to this forum and get involved in your community. We hope to see you on August 30th!

Venomous Reptile Ecology Awareness & Safe Handling Training

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September 21, 2018
1:00-4:00 pm
Merriam-Powell Research Station, Flagstaff, Arizona
(on the grounds of the Arboretum at Flagstaff)

Join Dr. Erika Nowak, venomous reptile researcher, for an in-depth look at venomous reptile behavior, ecology, and hands-on practice handling live snakes!

Program overview: Dr. Nowak will conduct an ~ 1.5 hour interactive presentation using a Powerpoint presentation, handouts, and visual aids (e.g. transmitters, PIT tags, preserved specimens, live snakes) to explain common Arizona venomous reptile identification, ecology, and behavior. She will also discuss appropriate responses when venomous reptiles are found in places where they are not welcomed by humans, how to prevent bites, and care for envenomation victims. This will be followed by a ~ 1 hour demonstration and class participation in supervised handling of non-venomous and venomous snakes, using snake-safe tongs and snake-proof holding containers. The setting for the training is Northern Arizona University’s Merriam-Powell Research Station (Merriam-Powell Research Station), located next to the Arboretum at Flagstaff.

Class Size and Cost: For snake safety, class size is limited to 20 participants. The cost for this training, put on by Erika M. Nowak Herpetological Consulting, is $75/person. Checks can be made out to Erika M. Nowak. Ten percent of class fees will be donated to Habitat Harmony, Inc. (habitat harmony.org) to support their important conservation work.

Contact Dr. Nowak at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reserve your spot. See more about Dr. Nowak’s background and her research with snakes here: NAU News: In it for the Animals

Intended Audience and Justification: This training is aimed at resource managers, park rangers, wildlife managers, law enforcement personnel, field biologists, and others who may be called on to remove a venomous reptile from a dangerous situation. Perhaps over half of the envenomations in the US occur as a result of improper handling, partly as a result of misunderstanding about normal rattlesnake behavior, and partly as a result of improper handling techniques. By discussing data gleaned from field research on wild venomous reptiles and dispelling popular myths before handling training occurs, Dr. Nowak hopes to help participants increase their appreciation for these enigmatic creatures, and begin to conquer fears they may have about venomous reptiles, which in turn will lead to safer handling practices. Take-home handouts will reinforce training concepts, and to provide additional resources for living safely with venomous reptiles. This presentation is based on Dr. Nowak’s 24 years of radio-telemetric and mark-recapture field research on rattlesnakes and gila monsters, conducted primarily in national parks and monuments, with insights from her colleagues.

* Please note that this is not a Habitat Harmony event.
Photo copyright Janet Lynn

 

Big move for local prairie dogs

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By Alexandra Wittenberg

Originally Published Aug. 12, 2018 by AZ Daily Sun | Link to original

Squeak. Chirp. Scree.

Chances are you’ve probably heard the unique warning bark of the Gunnison prairie dog while passing by a shrubby, grassy area around town. These highly social burrowing ground squirrels have 11 distinct barks for a variety of predators. Unfortunately, the prairie dogs don’t yet have a warning call for "300-acre housing development is about to start construction, destroy our habitat and trap us under swaths of cement for eternity."

In Flagstaff, the habitat loss that the prairie dogs face is exacerbated by the town’s seemingly never-ending construction projects. Oftentimes, new buildings are set to be established right on top of the prairie dog’s intricate tunnel-structured homes.

However, there is a light at the end of their tunnels.

If animals could talk: Former NAU professor works on dog translation device

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By Emery Cowan

Originally Published Jan 24, 2018 by AZ Daily Sun | Link to Original

What if you could easily find out what your dog was barking about? Or what it was thinking when it cocked its head in a certain way? And what if doing so only required pointing a cell phone at your pet and then getting a translation of what it is trying to communicate?

That’s the vision of retired Northern Arizona University biology professor Con Slobodchikoff. After spending decades researching prairie dog communication at NAU, Slobodchikoff has turned his attention in recent years to animal communication and, more specifically, dog communication. His newest project is a dog translation device that could decode a canine's vocalizations, facial expressions and actions and then tell the human user what the dog is trying to say.

Prairie Dog Life

Click on the burrow images to find out more.

Nursing Chamber

A mother keeps her young pups safe while the other Prairie Dogs investigate the snake.

Entering the Burrow

A prairie dog hears an emergency cry of "snake" and goes to investigate.

Listening chamber

A prairie dog sits listening just beneath the surface of the ground.

The Rattlesnake

The rattlesnake found a prairie dog burrow to sleep in but has been discovered by the prairie dogs.

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