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Ray Semlitsch receives 2011 Fitch Award for Excellence in Herpetology

August 3rd, 2011
Ray Semlitsch, Curators' Professor of Biology in the College of Arts and Science at the University of Missouri, is the recipient of the 2011 Fitch Award for Excellence in Herpetology from the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. This honor recognizes individuals who have demonstrated long-term excellence in the study of amphibian and/or reptile biology.

A leader of amphibian ecology and wetland conservation, Semlitsch is well-known for his research on the mechanisms of persistence of amphibian populations in altered habitats. His studies on the chemical contamination of farmlands have documented that tolerance to direct contaminants, such as insecticides, varies among species of amphibians, and that sub-lethal concentrations for amphibians have an indirect effect on food resources that cause mortality. He also established the ecological connection between aquatic and terrestrial environments for semi-aquatic amphibian species and defined the land around wetlands as an essential part of a species' "core habitat" and critical for management and protection.

"Dr. Semlitsch's research has spanned from basic ecology and life history evolution of amphibians to applied work on conservation of amphibians — work that will have a lasting impact on the way we will conduct science for years to come," said Michelle D. Boone, associate professor of zoology at Miami University, who nominated Semlitsch for the award.

Recently, he drew popular attention with research that showed that amphibian populations could thrive in properly buffered golf course ponds as well as in sustainably timbered forests.

Semlitsch's research has garnered him many awards and honors, including the Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity. He received the National Wetlands Award for Science Research from The Environmental Law Institute in 2008, and was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2009.

Semlitsch has been the assigning or associate editors of Conservation Biology, Ecological Applications, Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, and Herpetologica. He was editor of the influential book Amphibian Conservation, has authored over 200 scientific journal articles, and secured over $2 million in competitive research funding.

Provided by University of Missouri-Columbia

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