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Brown Bag 4/17/2013

The brown bag seminar on 4/17/2013 was titled “Evaluating Natural History Collection Use” and was presented by Bethany Abrahamson. It was much shorter than the usual brown bag presentations because the original presenter canceled and Ms. Abrahamson had to come up with a presentation with one nights notice. Her research is looking at natural history collections in which the specimens are collected then stored and determining how these collections are being used. She claims that natural history collections are important as sources of preservation and verification and as databases of evolution medical art and forensics.

Her presentation began with the history of natural history collections. In the pre nineteenth century they were used to enhance knowledge and classify living things and to collect the wonders in nature. In the nineteenth century they were used to investigate evolutionary relationships and collect populations. In the twentieth century they were used to study ecological patterns and physiological principles and collect series across populations. She hopes to see new roles for natural history collections for conservation and biodiversity in the twenty first century so as to educate a broader audience about their usefulness. One of her goals for the future is to create a display for New Mexico in Spring 2014 titled “Biological Collection Roles in Conservation”.

She then went on to explain her actual research in which she studied topics in publications that referenced natural history collections. She determined how the topics that these publications talked about changed over time with trends in scientific investigations. She looked at three hundred and thirty two publication in which three hundred and eleven referenced the Museum of Southwestern Biology’s Division of Herpetology. She searched phrases and keyword groups to determine the topics each publication referenced.

She found that there was a significant increase in genetics, modeling, and phylogenetics and a nonsignificant increase in conservation,and distribution. She found a non significant decrease in ecology and evolution.

This was a fascinating study and one that I had never thought about. I would love to continue following her research because studying other publications is a way to understand how science is changing and can give an numerical value to the importance of conserving natural history collections.


PeopleWater NMSU Q&A

This is a question and answer session with the Campus Ambassador for PeopleWater at NMSU, Jordan Lohkamp.

Brown Bag 4/10/13

The brown bag lecture on 4/10/2013 by Mason Ryan was titled “On the Trail of Missing Frogs: searching for Lost Specimens in an Age of Extinction”. This was my favorite talk so far. Mason was very passionate about his work and had many beautiful pictures with interesting descriptions of the frogs, their habitats and lifestyles, and their endangered status.
He said that it is rare to find a dead frog in the wild, but when he went collecting he found many just laying around and decomposing due to local and global die off caused by the Chytrid fungus. Chytrid can cause a loss of 80% of a species within 90 days of infection, some may rebound taking four or more years but those will lose at least 50% diversity. Chytrid is able to persist in environments and frogs have non random susceptibilities. It can persist in both degraded and pristine habitats.

Since 1980 over 100 frog species have gone extinct, and there are 168 total species that we know of that are extinct. However, this number is likely very low because species that can’t be found are often classified as “unknown” rather than extinct. 32% of frog species are extinct, critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable. 24.5% have an unknown status, and 43% are in population decline. It is estimated that 75%-97% of amphibian species are threatened with disease. The most threatened are usually medium sized bodied with increased aquatic association living at greater than 500m elevation, but Chytrid effects all orders and families.

Even if we capture endangered species and put them in zoos there are many that we don’t have life history information about, this can be problematic because we don’t know how to get them to breed. Another problem with captivity is that a cap has been put on the number of species that can be focused on, this cap is 6; there are 7116 known species.

Mason suggested that if we search for “missing” species and populations it will be very cheap, about $8,000 per year per region, we can improve conservation statuses of many species by simply finding them. A downside to this approach is that its possible we may not find any frogs. Mason defined missing as a historically abundant species that hasn’t been detected for seven or more years despite persistent survey effort because previous definitions had been vague. He suggests searching for historically abundant species because this abundance gives a larger possibility that the frogs will be found if they are still alive. Some missing species have started to come back into existence (we don’t know how), so Mr. Ryan is hoping that the species may disappear together and come back together.

He hypothesizes that perhaps there will be national recovery because Chytrid is either becoming less virulent due to hyper success or frog immunity is increasing.

The Beauty of PeopleWater


This is the NMSU specific logo for the campus PeopleWater.


Jordan Lohkamp is the Campus Representative for the NMSU branch of PeopleWater. She started the branch in October of 2012 and it has blossomed from there. Here she is promoting PeopleWater at a campus tabling event.


The NMSU PeopleWater Facebook page gives “shoutouts” to students who represent the organization around campus. If you take a photo of your PeopleWater gear Jordan will post it to the Facebook page.


Jordan does a great job of responding to people who are interested in her organization in a timely manner.


Not only does the NMSU page promote activities and promotions for NMSU students, they use national promotions from the PeopleWater organization to increase interest in the organization and to keep the Aggies up to date on good PeopleWater deals.



These are the stickers and pamphlets given to Jordan by the PeopleWater organization. As a Campus Representative she is able to give them out for free to spark interest in the organization. These were sent to me so I can use them when I interview UNM students about PeopleWater.


**Note this blog was supposed to be posted 4/25/2013 but Ms. Lohkamp is out of town and is unable to attend the 4/22/2013 Q&A this week.


PeopleWater in Social Media


The New Mexico State University’s PeopleWater Facebook page was created to encourage interaction between university students and the organization. The page gives dates to events, links and coupon codes for promotions, and encourages interaction by posting photos of active PeopleWater affiliates.

Unfortunately, the page seems to have fewer NMSU specific posts, and therefore fewer interactions, on it than when it was first created. The most recent post was April 14, 2013 which is less than a week old. However, this post and the four posts before it were all links to the main company and the promotions that the international PeopleWater organization was holding. The last post that had content directly related to the Aggies was on February 22, 2013 in which a photo of a student with a PeopleWater water bottle was uploaded to the page. I think that more interactions that directly relate to Aggies will encourage more students to check the Facebook page more often and perhaps to share events and promotions which will then allow their friends to check out the page as well. To accomplish an influx of Aggie related content the NMSU branch of PeopleWater might want to consider electing a social media representative. If the organization is run like a club, people will be happy to be elected to positions of power and this could decrease the amount of responsibility the campus representative has so that she can focus on the promotions around school while the social media representative focuses on promotions online.

Though the page has fewer Aggie specific events and posts, they have been very good about updating the page frequently with photos, promotions, and reminders from the national organization. Constant contact is a great way to keep students thinking about the PeopleWater organization and wanting to help with the cause. Jordan has promised to post photos of any students with their people water gear which is a great incentive to have gear and post photos of yourself with it which in turn will spark interest in other students. I think another way for the NMSU branch of PeopleWater to gather more followers would be to create a twitter which is an easy way for people to get updates about campus events. Twitter can be linked to Instagram which would be an easier and faster way for people to upload pictures of themselves with PeopleWater gear.

Overall the Facebook page appears to be doing pretty well, it has forty-four likes which seems like a lot for a new campus organization. People interact with the page both through their statuses and through posting pictures of themselves. Perhaps they could amp up interest by electing a social media representative and catering more events and posts directly towards Aggies and by branching out into new social media venues like Instagram and Twitter.

NMSU PeopleWater History

The PeopleWater branch at New Mexico State University was started in the fall semester of 2012 by a junior student named Jordan Lohkamp who is majoring in film. She created a Facebook page specific to her university’s branch on October 19th, 2012.

To become a PeopleWater Campus Ambassador Jordan had to fill out a “Work With Peeps Questionnaire Form” on the PeopleWater website. She had to give her name, contact information, the school she attended, her status at that school, and in a paragraph or two answer why it was that she wanted to become a Campus Ambassador. After Jordan was appointed as the New Mexico State representative PeopleWater shipped her stickers and pamphlets that she could spread around campus to help spread the word of their company.

On October 26th, 2012 Jordan set up her first tabling event on the NMSU campus where she gave away stickers and pamphlets, sold PeopleWater, and recruited individuals who were equally as passionate about her cause. That same day she received a coupon code that was specific for aggies that gave them a discount on water and merchandise from the PeopleWater website. She posted this code to facebook and told people about it as they visited her table.

She tried to spark interest in the organization by promising to post pictures on the NMSU PeopleWater Facebook page if they included PeopleWater merchandise. The Facebook page quickly became busy with pictures of people from all over NMSU campus sporting the PeopleWater look. She also updated the Facebook page with current events from the company’s main page, so that the NMSU page was well connected to the company it was representative of.

Jordan has continued to post frequently to the NMSU PeopleWater Facebook page. She keeps a stack of PeopleWater stickers and pamphlets on her desk at her room and has all of her tumblers, thermoses, and water bottles decked out in PeopleWater stickers. She says these things are good conversation starters and that many people ask her about the organization which allows her to tell them about the Facebook page so that they can get more information.


Editorial Calendar

Editorial Calendar

This are my projected blogging dates and topics for the next three weeks.