After two years of virtual meetings, we were thrilled to see so many GTC members in person at the 2022 Annual Meeting at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center at Nokuse in Freeport, FL. Keep reading for some of our favorite moments and highlights from the 2022 GTC Annual Meeting.
The GTC 2022 Annual Meeting was held from November 11th-13th, 2022, at the E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center at Nokuse in Freeport, FL. Participants from across the region came together for our first in-person meeting since 2019 to learn more about research and management impacting tortoises and their commensals across the southeast.
Following a keynote presentation by Dr. Tracey Tuberville, presenters gave updates on topics ranging from social interactions and vocalizations in gopher tortoises to tortoise recovery on military installations, as well as research on other imperiled species in the region like Federally-Threatened skinks. The meeting also featured a poster session including research highlights on topics including eastern indigo snake reintroduction efforts in Florida, gopher tortoise and burrowing owl interactions, and using machine learning to re-identify individual gopher tortoises.
The Annual Meeting featured two special sessions on hot-topic issues: Solar siting best practices to avoid wildlife impacts, and implications of the recent USFWS listing decision for gopher tortoises in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and parts of Alabama. We’re grateful to all of the panelists from both sessions who contributed to these important discussions.
On Saturday night, meeting participants gathered for a banquet dinner and awards session to recognize the recipients of GTC’s student research and travel grants, student presentation awards, and service awards. Congratulations to our award recipients, including:
Joan Berish Student Presentation Awards:
1st – Sean McKnight “Interspecific Interaction Between an Invasive and Imperiled Reptile”
2nd – Leyna Stemle “Explaining Seasonal and Habitat-specific Growth of Immature Gopher Tortoises: Is This a Job for Drones?”
3rd – David Tevs “DNA Methylation Patterns Differ in Lizards Occupying Unpaved Road Compared to Forest Interior Habitat”
These award recipients received $400, $200, and $100, respectively. There were many strong presentations and everyone enjoyed hearing about all the wide-ranging, relevant topics being investigated by student researchers.
Gopher Tortoise Council Service Awards:
Rachael Sulkers - 2022 Gopher Tortoise Council Distinguished Service Award
Joe and Holly Butler - 2022 Gopher Tortoise Council Conservation Education Award
Bob Herrington Student Travel Grant:
This year three students were chosen at random to receive $150 each to offset the expense of traveling to and presenting at the meeting.
The 2022 Annual Meeting concluded on Sunday, November 13th, with a field trip around Nokuse. It was wonderful to see so many participants at this year’s meeting! We look forward to providing you with information on the 2023 Annual Meeting over the course of this year.