IB 104LF – Natural History of the Vertebrates (every spring): Vertebrate Natural History essentially represents a set of three short courses stitched together – a short course in ornithology (birds), a short course in mammalogy (mammals), and a short course in herpetology (amphibians and reptiles). I teach the herpetology components. The course has two lectures per week (Tues/Thurs) that typically focus on the special features/characteristics defining the group under consideration. There are two lab sections (Wed/Thurs) that each meet for 3 hours once per week (students attend one of the two lab sections), with the major laboratory emphasis on identification of local species through study of museum specimens. There are also two field sections (Fri/Sat) with the students enrolled in one or the other. Students attend 13 field trips (8 AM-12 PM) over the course of the semester to local parks to observe amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals in a natural setting. The final field trip is an overnight trip that begins on the Berkeley campus, with each of several vans following different routes before arriving at the Hastings Natural History Reservation in Carmel Valley. The rationale behind the alternative routes is to maximize the total number of tetrapod (non-fish) vertebrates observed (in hopes of setting a new course record, of course!). IB 104 has been taught on the Berkelely campus for more than 100 years and has a tremendous legacy. Check out the 104th reunion website fore more details about the history of IB 104.
IB 175LF – Herpetology (every other spring, currently in even years): This is a classical systematic herpetology course in which we first discuss the basic biology of a major group of amphibians and reptiles (e.g., frogs, lizards, etc.) followed by coverage for each family within that major group. The course has two lectures per week and two lab sections that each meet for 3 hours once per week. The lab is focused on the morphology of amphibians and reptiles, including identification of all California species as well as worldwide coverage by family (taking advantage of the MVZ’s worldwide herpetological coverage). We also include readings and discussion of primary herpetological literature. The course has three field trips – an overnight trip to Big Basin State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a 3-day trip to the Mendocino Coast, and a 4-day trip to Death Valley.
IB 234 – Herpetology Seminar [a.k.a. ‘Herp Group’] (every semester every other Monday evening at 7 PM): Herp Group is attended by an assortment of faculty, postdocs, grad students, and undergraduates, as well as folks from other university campuses and the public. Anyone with an interest in herpetology may attend. The seminar begins with a brief discussion of new herpetological literature, is typically followed by a brief presentation by Dr. Ted Papenfuss describing a “Great Moment in the History of Herpetology”, and culminates with a longer seminar presentation typically showcasing recent scientific results or describing a recent herpetological field expedition. Herp Group is coordinated via email, with announcements sent out the week prior to the upcoming meeting and on the day of the meeting. If you’d like to be on the Herp Group email recipients list, send a message to Jim McGuire or Carol Spencer (atrox at berkeley dot edu).