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Division of Amphibians & Reptiles Research

Early in his career Curator Emeritus Robert F. Inger began to specialize in the ecology, systematics and zoogeography of the herpetofauna and ichthyofauna of Southeast Asia, especially the amphibians. His research has concentrated on the ecology of communities of amphibians and reptiles in Bornean forests, a project that continues to the present. Robert Inger's fieldwork began in 1950 with his first trip to Borneo. Since that trip he has returned to Borneo over sixteen times. He has also conducted fieldwork in peninsular Malaysia, Thailand, India, China, Brunei, and Zaire. A substantial part of the Division's collections consists of specimens Inger has collected. His Bornean fieldwork alone has added over 41,500 specimens. Inger's collections contain extremely large series accompanied by detailed field notes. His extensive field work in Southeast Asia has led to systematic works on the herpetofauna of tropical Asia, with emphasis on the Bornean fauna. These studies, involving both Inger and Harold Voris include analysis of relative abundances over a twenty-two-year period at a single Bornean site, and regional diversity of the herpetofauna of Borneo. Downloadable guides to Malaysian frogs and reptiles are available.

Curator Emeritus Harold K. Voris continues his research on the systematics and ecology of aquatic snakes in collaboration with faculty and students from Asian and American institutions. In fresh water swamps and marine estuaries in Borneo and Thailand, in collaboration with colleagues and students, Voris explores how aquatic snakes budget their activities between the two major life zones, land and water. In these semi-aquatic tropical habitats there are assemblages of snakes belonging to several independent lineages that have evolved aquatic habits. Each lineage represents an independent evolutionary experiment and each species within each lineage, an example of how life activities can be partitioned between these two life zones. Through comparisons between lineages, and among species within lineages, they are gaining insights into the reasons why these fundamentally terrestrial vertebrates have re-invaded the sea so often through evolutionary history. Voris also continues studies with research associates W. B. Jeffries and C. M. Yang on the coevolutionary relationships between barnacles and sea snakes and decapod crustaceans found in the sea adjacent to Singapore. An aquatic snakes website and Pleistocene sea level maps are available.



Collection Manager Alan Resetar focuses his survey work in the Chicago Region and in particular within northwest Indiana. His projects emphasize the ecology and conservation of the Calumet Region herpetofauna. In cooperation with the National Park Service, Indiana Department of Environmental Management and Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Resetar collects data on the distribution and ecology of this herpetofauna. In spite of large scale habitat disruption and destruction, there are still sizable remnants left of the patchwork of habitats that make the region unique, including prairie, marsh, mesophytic and hydromesophytic forest, bog, fen, savanna, foredune, and old fields. Industrial strength herpetology in a post-industrial landscape describes his reseach focus. From 1974 to 1995, Resetar has compiled data on over 2,100 live specimens that are released after extensive data collection on each individual. Resetar’s work has documented range contractions and extensions and provided insight into the habitat use of various species, species richness of key habitats, annual activity cycles, conservation problems, and management of rare species. A downloadable guide to Calumet Region amphibians and reptiles is available. Keys to Calumet Region salamanders, turtles and frogs are available.

Research Associate Maureen Kearney continues her research on the morphology, systematics, and evolution of squamate reptiles through the Tree of Life project, funded by the National Science Foundation. Visit the Deep Scaly website.