UGA science student’s work ‘covered’ by two journals

Aiken, SC – Tracey Tuberville has done twice this fall what most ecologists hope they can accomplish once in a career -she has the cover photograph on scientific journals that feature articles for which she is the senior author. Tracey is a doctoral student in the University of Georgia’s Institute of Ecology. Her research appears in both Southeastern Naturalist and Animal Conservation, a feat rarely matched by established researchers.

One article, in the latest issue of Southeastern Naturalist, is on sampling and inventory of amphibians and reptiles in National Parks of the southeastern Coastal Plain. Tuberville led her colleagues in documenting 123 native species over the course of two years, including the Green Tree Frog, which was chosen to grace the cover of the journal. J. D. Willson, another Institute of Ecology doctoral student and co-author on the article, took the photo. The National Park Service and the University of Georgia funded the study.

The other article, in Animal Conservation, discusses results of a project to explore effective ways to reintroduce gopher tortoises to areas they formerly inhabited. Tuberville and a team of researchers rescued a population of tortoises from an industrial development site in southeastern Georgia and tested different methods to establish the endangered species elsewhere in their native range.

“We provided burrows in new locations in South Carolina, but penned some of the areas so they could not wander far,” said Tracey. “Later, after that group had time to accept the burrows or create their own, we removed the pens.”

The team radio-tracked 38 gopher tortoises for two years and found that the groups which were first confined stood a better chance of staying in the vicinity and establishing permanent populations than those which never experienced confinement.

The cover photograph on the November issue of Animal Conservation of a gopher tortoise outside its burrow was taken by Tracey and Kurt Buhlmann, who received his doctorate through the Institute of Ecology in 1998 and is also a co-author on the article. The study was funded primarily through the Department of Defense, the University of Georgia Research Foundation and the U.S. Forest-Service-Savannah River, with help from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Conservation International and the Gopher Tortoise Council.

Tracey is completing her doctoral degree on the ecology and life history of gopher tortoises, with application toward conservation of the species and its habitat. She conducts her research at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory on the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in Aiken, SC.