UNO grad receives Master’s Thesis Award


By Josie Loza

UNO graduate Daniel Fogell received the Param Gun Sood Master’s Thesis Award for his efforts in herpetology research at the annual Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools conference, which was held April 3.

His thesis was titled “Seasonal Activity, Habitat Preferences and Natural History of the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) in Southeastern Nebraska.” He also received an honorarium of $500 at the conference.

In October, Fogell received UNO’s Elton S. Carter Award for excellence in a thesis, which was later submitted to the MAGS distinguished scholarship for consideration.

For his research, Fogell spent two seasons observing timber rattlesnakes in Gage County, Neb. He conducted field observations and radio telemetry, which helps track rattlesnakes’ temperatures, latitudinal and longitudinal locations and habitats conditions.

He collected demographic data the first year, followed by the radio-tracking of eight adult timber rattlesnakes the next year.

“In general, what I discovered was that this particular population behaved a little more erratically than expected,” Fogell said. “My suggestion for why they behave this way is that they are on the extreme periphery of their range.”

Fogell said researchers could use his data to learn more about maintaining timber rattler populations.

He thinks the most interesting part of his study was how the landowners in Gage County changed their attitudes about timber rattlesnakes after he spent two field seasons with them.

“I invited landowners to accompany me on radio-tracking trips and even let them do the tracking themselves,” he said. “It changed their minds about whether timber rattlesnakes are mean, aggressive snakes. It also gave them a sense of ownership — like we were out there looking at their snakes.”

The MAGS Distinguished Master’s Thesis Awards are intended to recognize the distinguished scholarship of two students in its region — one in the arts and one in the sciences — who are pursing their first graduate-level research degree.

Fogell received a master of arts in biology in December 2000. He is the second UNO graduate student to win the award.

Fogell’s future plans include conducting reptile and amphibian surveys for a number of agencies, including The National Park Service, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

He is currently a part-time zoology instructor at UNO, but will be actively seeking full-time employment after this coming winter.


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