Visit from Dr. Mike Angilletta, backpacking among BIG Trees, and cool herps!

Recently, Dr. Mike Angilletta visited CSU Fresno from Arizona State. During the day on Friday, he met with the lab and others on campus and then gave an excellent seminar on how behavior might (and might not) buffer ectotherms from environmental temperature changes associated with climate change.

After the seminar, Mike, Rory, Dalton, and Dr. Alija Mujic (brand new mycologists in our Biology department at CSU Fresno) hopped in Rory’s Subaru and headed to Sequoia National Park. We backpacked Redwood Canyon which has the largest remaining grove of Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) left on the planet! Despite it being autumn and us being at ~6000 ft elevation, we saw a few very impressive herps. On the first night we found a beautiful Sierra Nevada Ensatina Salamander (Ensatina escholtzii platensis) on the trail. This was a special treat because it inspired a fun conversation about ring species, of which Ensatina salamanders are an excellent example. It also was the first time any of us had come across the Sierra Nevada component of this classic ring species. It is always fun to see something you mostly know from textbooks! The next morning, we found a large adult Rubber boa on the trail (Charina bottae). We didn’t talk as much about this one, but everyone had to pose for pictures with this lovely snake!

All in all, it was a great break from the grind and reminder of why we do what we do as biologists!