HARROGATE, Tenn., November 2, 2018— Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) senior wildlife and fisheries biology student Kiersten Dunaway, of Barbourville, Kentucky, has been getting to know some of nature’s creepiest creatures as she studies snake diversity in local habitats.
“I have always been interested in snakes and I want to inform others that they aren’t just scary, but that they play a key role in the environment and are actually very beneficial in many ways,” Dunaway said. “There has never been a reptile study in my research area before, so I wanted to provide Kentucky Natural Lands Trust (KNLT) with some information on their property. I hope to continue doing various studies in the region and using the findings to teach the public.”
She recently presented her research at the Appalachian College Association (ACA) meeting and plans to present at the Tennessee Academy of Sciences meeting Nov. 17 in Clarksville, Tennessee and at the Tennessee Wildlife Society annual meeting later this semester.
Dunaway received the Colonel B. Ledford Scholarship, which provided funding and support for her research. She studied snake species from April through September 2018, at Kentucky Natural Lands Trust in Pineville, Kentucky. The Ledford Scholarship, named for Colonel Lee B. Ledford, offers financial assistance for summer research projects to undergraduate students enrolled at ACA member institutions. Undergraduate students from any disciplines are eligible, and a variety of fields of study have been supported previously in the natural and health sciences, the social sciences, the humanities and so forth, applying various methodologies.
Dunaway found five different species in the research area, including the Northern Redbelly Snake.
“Most of the snakes found were located at the top of the mountain in the upper section of my area,” Dunaway said. “Through analysis, I concluded that the upper section probably had the most suitable habitat for reptiles and that many more species are probably present, but I just did not see them.”
Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423.869.6280 or e-mail at admissions@LMUnet.edu.