Southeast Volusia Audubon Society, P.O. Box 46, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32170;

November 2010 speaker: Terence Farrell

Our November speaker will be Dr. Terence Farrell of Stetson University in Deland.

Dr. Farrell was born in Morristown, New Jersey, and grew up there.  Catching ringneck snakes and redback salamanders in his backyard obviously planted the seeds for his subsequent career choice.

Dr. Farrell earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.  He went on to graduate school at Oregon State University and was awarded a Ph.D. in Zoology, then did two years postdoctoral research at Stanford University.  Since 1989 he has been a faculty member at Stetson University where he teaches Ecology, Biostatistics, Invertebrate Zoology and Environmental Biology.  For much of the last two decades, he has studied the field biology of pigmy rattlesnakes and box turtles at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge with Dr. Peter May and a dedicated group of Stetson students.  Impressively, more than of dozen of these students have published their work. More recently, he has begun studying exotic catfish and aquatic turtles found in a local spring. 

The title of his talk will be Herpetology for the Ornithologist.

Dr. Farrell feels that a deep understanding of Florida’s birds must involve considering their interactions with reptiles.  Many interesting aspects of avian behaviors, distribution, and nesting could well be a result of the great abundance and diversity of reptiles in Florida.  He will ask you to consider questions such as these:

Why do burrowing owls occur in Florida?
Why do warblers in Florida create a variety of unusual nest types?
How do rattlesnakes benefit birds?
Why do great crested flycatchers use the shed skins of snakes as a nesting material?
Why do woodpeckers prefer to make their nests in dead pine trees without bark?

The answers to these questions and the explanation of many other features of avian life are explained by reptile-bird interactions.