June 16 - 27, 2014
$500 per week or $750 for both weeks (food and accommodation included)

The New Jersey School of Conservation will run its two week Herpetology Workshop from June 17 – 28 at the school site in Stokes State Forest. Herpetofauna, or reptiles and amphibians, face a number of threats from human activity. Understanding the basic biology and ecology of herpetofauna can help scientists determine the consequences of those threats and how to best conserve these cold-blooded animals. In addition to learning the basic biology of the local herptefauna, workshop participants will take part in a long term study of herpetefauna diversity in this region. 
The New Jersey School of Conservation (NJSOC) is the environmental field campus of Montclair State University (MSU), located 60 miles from the main campus on a 240-acre tract in the Stokes State Forest of Sussex County NJ.  The NJSOC is at the center of 30,000 acres of state forest and federal lands, surrounded by The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Stokes State Forest, High Point State Park and a mosaic of properties held by the Nature Conservancy and the Conservation Trust.  This unique site is one of the largest undeveloped tracts in New Jersey and home to one of the least-disturbed herpetofaunal assemblages in eastern North America.  

The Herpetology Workshop at the NJ School of Conservation will combine classroom instruction and fieldwork in order to introduce participants to the biology, habitats, natural history, conservation and management of reptiles and amphibians native to northwestern New Jersey. Participants will help collect vital data on local herpetofauna that are the subject of numerous research projects at Montclair State University. Some of these projects include a statewide survey for two amphibian diseases, chytridiomycosis and Ranavirus, a demographic study of the turtles in Lake Wapalanne, and a local survey of snake abundance and diversity.

The field course will provide a broad-based introduction to the ecology of herpetofauna in northern New Jersey. The course focuses on teaching practical skills in the identification and study of different taxa, and also provides an introduction to developing hypotheses, sampling design, and statistics as related to ecological fieldwork. Participants will have the opportunity to experience different ecosystems and explore conservation issues through the workshop. In addition, participants will learn how molecular biology techniques can benefit ecological research by collecting field samples and analyzing them in a lab on site.

The Workshop will include:

  • Learning the taxonomy of the snakes, amphibians and turtles that are found at the NJSOC
  • Understanding use of micro-habitat by local herpetofauna
  • Collecting abundance data and physical data (such as weight, length, etc.) on reptiles
  • Trapping techniques
  • Night surveys for amphibians
  • Identification of calling amphibians by their vocalizations
  • Understanding conservation and management issues
  • Shadowing university researchers to collect tissue samples for disease assessment and population genetic analyses
  • Learning basic molecular biology techniques relevant to the conservation of reptiles and amphibians
  • Presentations by wildlife managers (including state officials) on projects involving the conservation of New Jersey herpetofauna

Applicants should be capable of university-level work and passionate about field biology. Classes will be limited to 10-15 people. Participants will be selected  on a first come first served basis and preference will be given to those with a background in biology.

The workshop will be divided into two (2) different one-week sessions, with each week-long session involving a different schedule of activities. The cost to each student will be $500/person/week; $750/2 weeks. This fee will include five days of meals and accommodation per week as well as all instruction.

Access and Transportation: 

The NJSOC is 60 miles from the metropolitan population center of NJ/NY, and most users drive one to two hours to access the site.  There is no public transportation serving NJSOC.  The NJSOC provides overnight accommodations and cafeteria meals for visitors. Students and scientists can concentrate on research, while logistics of cleaning, cooking, and supply are provided by NJSOC.

For more information on the workshops:

Please contact Paola Dolcemascolo at:

Credit Available:
Academic credit is available through Montclair State University. Students wishing to obtain credit should contact:
Dr. William Thomas at thomasw@mail.montclair.edu

Find out more information about the New Jersey School of Conservation