PITTSBURG, Ks. — A big part of any habitat are the creatures that make up the ecosystem.
Recently experts made their way to the Four States to discuss new research into the study of amphibians and reptiles, or herpetology.
It’s a time where some of the greatest minds in the field can analyze all the progress that’s been made, and help shape the minds of those on the forefront of some amazing discoveries.
“Pittsburg State University is hosting the conference this year, it’s our 48th annual meeting,” says Andrew George, Kansas Herpetology Society President, “everybody’s glad to be back, we haven’t been able to have an in-person meeting since 2019 because of the pandemic.”
Members of the Kansas Herpetological Society arrived in Pittsburg over the weekend.
Experts discussed the newest findings on amphibians and reptiles from professors, researchers and students across the country.
“A lot of the presentations are a culmination of a lot of hard work,” says George, “This is a fantastic opportunity for an outlet for the research, they’re learning how to do research, they’re learning about these organisms.”
One of the presenters was PSU sophomore Taylor Michael, who’s been researching the way geography affects chorus frog species variation to the North and South of Kansas.
Michael says, “The two species, they’re almost impossible to tell based on morphological features…Kind of like body features, patterns on the back, leg length, head width, measurements of the body…The only way you can tell them apart is their call, so the way they sound…But we’re starting to see in our area, overlap between those two species, where it’s hard to tell them apart morphologically and based off their call.”
This overlap could mean the emergence of an entirely new chorus frog in the Four States.
“If we were able to prove that they are hybridizing, and maybe even a speciation of that is starting to occur, where these two species are hybridizing and forming a new species of their own,” says Michael.
She plans to continue her research in the future, finetuning it with the help of other universities and experts like Dr. Emily Lemmon.
“She was really impressed with my work, very happy that I was interested in it, and she gave me some advice on what I can do, take more measurements, get some call logs, and that was just really great to get to hear from the author that inspired all of this research, that was really, really cool,” says Michael.