Volume 42, Number 2
Becca Cozad, GTC Senior Co-Chair
Dear fellow burrow buddies,
We are still on track to venture out of our burrows to see each other in person at this year’s annual meeting! This year we will be hosting the 44th Annual Gopher Tortoise Council meeting in the Florida panhandle from November 11th-13th at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center at Nokuse Plantation. As we should remain conscious of the potential for Covid-19 infections and transmission, we strongly encourage the use of masks and social distancing during indoor activities. The weather should be very nice during the meeting – and we will hopefully have dodged most of the hurricane season – so we will try to have breaks and some of our events outside.
We will have two full days of talks and panel discussions, along with poster presentations, a silent auction, and plenty of opportunities to strengthen our social network. Friday evening, we will have dinner and social time at North Beach Social, a restaurant located right on the Choctawhatchee Bay (with a lot of outdoor seating available). Our GTC business meeting will be held on Saturday (please attend to hear updates from our state representatives and to help us vote in a new co-chair!). Once the afternoon presentations are completed, we will have our poster session in the Biophilia Center Exhibit Hall and awards banquet on the Terraces under the pine trees! There will be an option to visit some of Nokuse on Sunday as part of the field trip, but spots will be limited – we will have a signup sheet available on site once the meeting starts for folks to register for a guided trip. Also, don’t forget to bring your fun tortoise or conservation-themed items for the silent auction!
As a reminder, we have also moved some deadlines and increased some of our grants and awards – please check out the Announcements section of this newsletter or our Grants page on the website for details.
Looking forward to seeing y’all soon!
McKayla Susen (University of Georgia)
Each year, GTC awards 1-2 grants of up to $3,000 each to undergraduate and/or graduate students researching gopher tortoise biology and ecology, or other relevant aspects of upland habitat conservation and management within the range of the gopher tortoise. McKayla Susen was a Landers Grant recipient in 2021. Keep reading to learn more about her research on gopher tortoise habitat structure in southwest Georgia.
Leyna Stemle (University of Miami) and Betsie Rothermel (Archbold Biological Station)
Learn about ongoing research on gopher tortoise movement happening at Archbold Biological Station in Florida.
Dirk Stevenson (Altamaha Environmental Consulting)
The morning sun warms the bark of a massive longleaf pine, one of many thousands that stand tall in the gorgeous mesic savannah. I find comfort in the strength of the columnar trunk, art in its fire scars, knobs and furrows. I pat the tree, exfoliating scales of bark. The ringing calls of ornate chorus frogs erupt from a nearby cypress dome. The Apalachicola National Forest is a fine place to get some thinking done, and I am pondering an odd and poorly known group of reptiles which thrive here, our glass lizards.
Jennifer Frey (Mississippi Museum of Natural Science)
GTC's Mississippi Co-State Representative Jennifer Frey highlights gopher tortoise outreach at Jackson County's Sand Jam 2022.