Dr. Brian Smith, Black Hills State University assistant
professor of biology, recently received a $1,000 grant from the
John Ball Zoo Society’s Wildlife Conservation Fund.
Smith has done extensive research on the endangered Antiguan
Racer (Alsophis antiguae) by monitoring the snake’s primary
food source—lizards. This grant will pay a stipend to an
Antiguan student in an ongoing project to reintroduce the snake
to suitable islands in the Caribbean. It is estimated that fewer
than 100 snakes remain.
This snake, found only in Antigua, is probably the rarest
snake in the world," said Smith.
"The BHSU herpetologist said, "Antiguan students
cannot join the project without a paid stipend, since economic
conditions within Antigua and the necessity of raising money for
education prohibit volunteer work by these students on this or
other similar projects."
Smith and two BHSU students conducted prey-based studies in
1999. The Antiguan Racer Conservation Project (ARCP),
established in the summer of 1995 to conserve the snake, plans
to train and employ local (Antiguan) students to continue the
research. The study on prey is necessary for determining which
islands will provide enough lizards to ensure the snakes’
Smith has been a member of the BHSU science faculty since
1997. He holds a Ph.D. in quantitative biology from the
University of Texas.