Volume XXIV No. 39 • Sept. 29, 2000

Submit items to Campus Currents - Top

The Campus Currents is distributed every Friday. If you would like to include an item in the newsletter send it to Campus Currents, Unit 9512 or by e-mail to Campus Currents. Deadline is Thursday at 8 a.m.

BHSU professor and students spend second summer in the Caribbean studying endangered snakes

Summer school in the Caribbean may be a great recruiting promotion, but for Dr. Brian Smith, biologist, and two Black Hills State students it was a tedious research project involving long hours, extremely hot temperatures, and days away from the comforts of home.

Smith and his student assistants spent two months this summer surveying the lizard populations on remote Caribbean islands near Antigua. Their research involved counting and surveying lizards, the primary food source of an endangered snake known as the Antiguan Racer (Alsophis antiguae). There are approximately 80 of the harmless snakes in existence at this time, 70 on Great Bird Island and 10 others reintroduced last fall to a smaller nearby island.

The recovery project is supported by the six-member Antiguan Racer Conservation Project (ARCP), a consortium which includes BHSU, and organizations from Britain, Antigua, and Washington, D.C.

The BHSU research group began its work last summer and will continue the research for at least three more years. They will be estimating the carrying capacity of the islands for the reintroduction of the Antiguan Racer to its former range. Smith will be conducting an annual census of the lizard and snake populations.

Before the snake can be reintroduced to an island, the island must have its rat and mongoose populations eradicated. These non-native mammals have decimated the snake population.

Smith said their lizard surveys produced no startling results this summer. They conducted 936 surveys. Most were done on four islands, but some initial survey work was done on two others.

"On Great Bird Island, there was a significant drop in lizard numbers at one habitat and on the other islands there were no changes except at one control site," said Smith. "Where the snakes were introduced, there were no changes in the lizard populations. The snakes showed no problems adjusting to the new habitat."

Smith speculated that a drop in the lizard population at a couple of the sites might have been the result of very dry weather this summer.

"One significant aspect we added to the project was a Global Positioning System (GPS) mapping unit into the field," said the BH herpetologist. "We can map the size of the island and the size of habitat. This helps to calculate the numbers of lizards on the island."

With snakes preying on lizards as their primary food, Smith was surprised to see a racer eating a baby bird (a nestling). He spotted the snake drop from about a meter above the ground with the bird. The island is forested with lots of vines so the snakes are able to work their way up the tree for a short distance.

"This activity had never been reported before," he said. "I immediately called the main island using my cell phone to report the sighting."

Smith said there was a large population of pigeons and doves nesting close to the ground on that particular island and the opportunity for a different food source was readily available. A colleague of his who has spent the past five years observing the snake had never witnessed them feeding on nestlings. The BH herpetologist spotted the unusual eating phenomenon on two separate occasions.

With the potential for an increased workload involving 1,400 to 1,500 surveys a summer during the next few years, Smith was pleased to be able to involve two BH students and one Caribbean student in this summer’s survey work. The Caribbean student is working on a master’s degree supported by a scholarship from the United Kingdom. Smith plans to involve one or two additional BH students and a second Caribbean student in the project next summer. The Caribbeans will eventually oversee the reintroduction project.

A stable population of snakes is estimated to be 500. It will be some time before that number is reached. The first hatch from the ten recently reintroduced snakes is expected in late August or early September. Some of the small islands can only handle about 80 snakes, therefore more islands must be surveyed and prepared for reintroduction.

In the future, Smith hopes to find additional dollars to support more students in the research. He said they are considering snake reintroduction on a large privately owned island that could potentially handle a snake population of 300 to 400. That would be a big step toward reaching the minimum goal of 500 snakes necessary to stabilize the Antiguan Racer population and save it from extinction.

In the near future Smith and his student assistants will be analyzing the survey data and preparing for a return trip to the islands. Grants from the Columbus and Cleveland zoos have helped fund his research.

Celebrate homecoming hippie style  - Top

The annual Black Hills State University homecoming Oct. 10-14 will be celebrated "hippie style" with "Swarmin’ in the 70s" as the theme for the week’s festivities.

Activities begin Tuesday, Oct. 10 and continue through the week culminating in a full day of activities Swarm Day Saturday, Oct. 14 including the parade, tailgate socials and the football game vs Mayville. So find your tie die t-shirts, peace signs and smiley faces and help celebrate Swarm Day 2000.


Cast announced for BHSU theatre opener  - Top

The cast has been announced for the "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds" the first production of the season for the BHSU theatre department.

"The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds" by Paul Zindel will be presented Oct. 19, 20 and 21 at the 8 p.m. in Woodburn Auditorium.

The play is a story of a frowzy, acid-tongued mother supporting herself and her two daughters by taking in a decrepit old boarder. One daughter, Ruth, is a pretty but 

high-strung girl subject to convulsions, while the younger daughter, Matilda, plain and almost pathologically shy, has an intuitive gift for science. Encouraged by her teacher, Tillie undertakes a gamma-ray experiment with marigolds which wins a prize at her high school – and also brings on the shattering climax of the play. And yet, as Tillie’s experience proves something beautiful and full of promise can emerge from even the most barren afflicted soil.

Members of the cast and crew

Student teacher meetings set at Black Hills State - Top

Black Hills State University students who are planning to student teach during the spring semester 2001 must attend one of the following registration/orientation meetings:
  • Monday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. in Jonas 301
  • Tuesday, Oct. 3 at 3:30 p.m. in Jonas 301
  • Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 7 a.m. in Jonas 301
Potential student teachers should check their BHSU catalog to make sure they meet all requirements. For additional information call 642-6642.

Printing center offers training - Top

Training session will be offered for faculty and staff  interested in learning how to submit printing jobs on-line to the university printing center.

 There will be training sessions on the following days:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 10th at 3 p.m. in the library room 009
  • Wednesday, Oct. 11th at 2 p.m. in the library room 009
  • Thursday, Oct. 12th at 10 a.m. in the library room 009

For additional information or to sign up contact Stacie Roddis at 6285.

Spearfish HarvestFest is this weekend - Top

The Spearfish Area Chamber of Commerce will host HarvestFest this weekend in Spearfish. Featured events include the craft fair on Main Street, sidewalk merchandise from local merchants, the harvest wagon filled with pumpkins, gourds, fall fruits and vegetables and lots of entertainment.

Headlining this year’s festival entertainment lineup will be the well-known Black Hills hoop dancer, Dallas Chief Eagle of Allen, S.D. The entire entertainment program will offer a variety of music, dancers and singers. Another popular HarvestFest event is the 

quilt show. The show features a large collection of privately owned quilts from the area.

Other activities taking place include the apple pie contest and Tour de Fish Bicycle Race. This three-stage bicycle competition is a U.S. Cycling Federation sanctioned race. Top racers from a five to seven state area will view for prize money.

For a complete schedule of the HarvestFest events, contact the chamber of commerce at 642-2626.

Faculty research funds available - Top

The faculty-research committee has funds available for the current fiscal year. Write a short (about three-page) proposal. Proposal forms are available at the grants office or can be printed out from their web page.

It is anticipated that successful applicants will request support for faculty release time, research equipment, travel to research sites or research support for the production of creative work. Preference is given to new applicants particularly in the areas of education, business, social sciences and humanities. A three-hour release time is available for fall of 2001. You can apply now.

The applicants are encouraged to contact the committee members for advice prior to completing their proposals. The members are John Alsup, Steve Anderson, Lyle Cook, Tom Cox, Daniel Farrington, Abdollah Farrokhi, chair; Jim Hess, Kathleen Parrow, Shane Sarver and Rob Schurrer.

The research committee will not provide salary. The committee may approve payment to student or non-student research assistants. Deliver the original plus ten copies of your proposal to the grants office in Woodburn 218 or Dr. Farrokhi’s office in Woodburn 314 by Oct. 20.

This week at BHSU

Submit items to Media Relations or send to Unit 9512, BHSU.

October calendar

Astronomy Club Star Party, 7:30 p.m., Cox’s lake, 7:30 p.m.



Tailgate socials

Green and Gold, Salem Park, noon-1:15 p.m. 

Burger King, north end of Lyle Hare Field,  noon-1:15 p.m.

Football game vs. Dakota State, 1:30 p.m., Lyle Hare Stadium




Oct. 2

Prospective student teachers meeting, Student Union, 7 p.m

Alumni art show begins, Ruddell Gallery, (ends Oct. 18)



Oct.  3

Prospective student teachers meeting, Student Union, 3 p.m

Fall Film Festival "Big Night," Jonas 305, 7 p.m.

Volleyball vs. National American University, 7 p.m.

Presentation "Coping with a Loss," Student Union, 7 p.m.



Oct.  4

Prospective student teachers meeting, Student Union, 7 p.m.


Oct.  5


Oct. 6


Oct. 7

5th Annual Octoberfling, disc golf course, 9 a.m.