Science Workshop: Evolution of a research question

Dr. Betsy Sherman will discuss her ongoing research on phenotypic variation among red-spotted newts. Newts are significant predators in freshwater communities and their presence affects the assemblage of organisms that also live in these communities. Newts are not yet regarded as threatened, but Sherman’s work has revealed that temperature, pH, and disease affect newt physiology, behavior, and development and may well have larger implications for amphibian conservation and diversity. Sherman will also discuss how physiological ecologists develop their research questions. Science workshop is on Friday, Nov. 2, from 1:00-2:00 pm in Dickinson 225.  All are welcome.

No newts is bad newts!

In March 2012, Biologist Betsy Sherman and alumna Katie Van Munster (’08) published a paper entitled, Pond pH, acid tolerance and water preference in newts of Vermont, in the journal Northeastern Naturalist. The red-spotted newt is found in both acidic ponds (pH values of ~4) from the Green Mountains and more alkaline ponds of the Taconic Mountains (pH values of ~8). Newts from the high and low pH ponds exhibited different behavioral and physiological reponses to water of different pH. The research revealed that newts have adapted to acidic conditions that are due, in part, to human activity.  Sherman and her students continue to study whether these adaptations are due to divergent evolution among the different populations of newts.  A short description of this work was also published in the popular conservation magazine, Northern Woodlands. Click on the image below to see the article.