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February 7, 2013

ULM biology professor contributes to Colombian turtle conservation book

Dr. John L. Carr, professor of biology at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, wrote a chapter for a Colombian reference book investigating biological conservation of the continental turtles of Colombia.

Carr participated in a workshop in Colombia in July 2011 led by the book’s editor, Vivian Paez. That workshop led to the book, “Biología y conservación de las tortugas continentales de Colombia,” which is published in Spanish.

An official launch party will be held in Colombia for the book’s release in late February.

In addition to writing an entire chapter of the book, he also contributed to five other sections within the publication.

“The purpose of the publication is to compile information about all the different species of turtles that inhabit Colombia,” Carr continued. “The entire process took about a year.”

Vivian Paez, editor and professor of biology at the Universidad de Antioquia in Medellin, Colombia, called Carr’s contributions “valuable.”

“John played an important role in assuring the academic quality of the book in more ways than ‘just’ contributing a chapter on the use of morphological characters in turtle systematics and five chapters reviewing the available literature on five species of Colombian turtles,” she said.

“John also provided advice on the taxonomic key included in the book, offered valuable criticism on a number of the other chapters, and made corrections on the distribution maps based upon his knowledge of turtle taxonomy and his years of research in Colombia.”

Carr’s research within the biology community is viewed as a valuable and substantial resource to the field, said Paez.

“John has a long history of supporting the development of scientific capacity in Colombia,” continued Paez.

“John deserves recognition both for his excellent research trajectory and his commitment to the development of herpetology in Colombia.”

Carr wrote his chapter in English, and the principal editor translated the text into Spanish.

“I sent my chapter to the editor to translate in order to speed up the process,” he said.

Although Carr is proficient in Spanish, he said he chose to write his chapter in English due to the size and technical nature of the project.

He is the holder of the Kitty DeGree Professorship in Biology and serves as professor of biology and as associate curator in the Museum of Natural History.

His classes focus on human and comparative anatomy, as well as organism-centered classes such as herpetology and field biology.

Between 1989 and 1994 he worked as a staff biologist at Conservation International in Washington, D.C, including work with the Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) in the tropical Andean region of South America.

His general research interests include anatomy, systematics and ecology of freshwater and terrestrial turtles in the south-central United States and northwestern South America.

Since 2005, he has been making nearly annual visits to Colombia to work with colleagues on the ecology of Rhinoclemmys nasuta on a Pacific coastal island.

He serves as a research associate with the Animal Ecology Research Group (Grupo de Investigación en Ecología Animal) in the Department of Biology at the Universidad del Valle, in Cali, Colombia.

In April 2007, Carr led a tour of Black Bayou National Wildlife Refuge, when an Icon Films crew documented Carr’s innovative research for “Nick Baker's Weird Creatures 2,” a television series created for the Animal Planet network that features unique and unusual animals.

In 2009, Carr repeated this task for a British Broadcasting Corp., which captured footage of one of Black Bayou’s largest predators, the North American Alligator Snapping Turtle.

That footage appeared on a BBC segment titled “Steve’s Deadly 60.”

Carr has taught in ULM’s biology department for 17 years.

Carr earned a B.S. in Zoology from Texas A&M University, an M.S. in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences from Texas A&M University, and a Ph.D. in Zoology from Southern Illinois University.

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