A new national organization formed by scientists -- including local ecologist Whit Gibbons -- attracted more than 200 people to its inaugural gathering held this week in Atlanta.
The group, Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, was formed to address declining populations among those animals, said Dr. Gibbons, a herpetologist and University of Georgia professor assigned to the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory at Savannah River Site.
"For every person who doesn't care about turtles or frogs or salamanders, there are 10 who do," he told the crowd. "Now that number goes down slightly when it comes to snakes, but for every person who doesn't care about snakes, there are five or six who do."
The new partnership includes 30 universities, 12 state departments of natural resources, 17 museums and nature centers, 30 scientific and conservation organizations, 13 private industries and other groups.
Dr. Gibbons is a well-known expert in the field of reptiles and amphibians, having recently co-authored a new booklet about snakes in our region.
"Snakes are a major component of our regional biodiversity," he said. The desire to help people learn more about snakes was the impetus behind the new booklet, entitled Snakes of Georgia and South Carolina.
The conference, which began Wednesday, concludes today.