Volume XXIV No. 44 • Nov. 3, 2000

Smith awarded grant from John Ball Zoo Society for ongoing endangered Antiguan snake project

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’ survival.

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.