Goessling Lab at Eckerd College

In the end we will conserve only what we love;

we will love only what we understand;

and we will understand only what we have been taught.

-Baba Dioum, 1968

As noted by Dioum, positive conservation results can only be expected from a better understanding of the factors affecting the loss of biological diversity, and ultimately disseminating this knowledge. This is a unifying thesis of all academia: gaining understanding, disseminating understanding, and using understanding to defend and advance the greater good.

Our Goal

In the Goessling lab, we focus efforts on understanding a diversity of proximate mechanisms and ultimate effects of environmental change on ectothermic tetrapods. We are taxonomically biased in approach for two reasons. First, we all share at least a basic interest in, if not a love for, reptiles and amphibians; this bias is personal and of no specific scientific merit. Second, because their physiologies are uniquely tied to the environment, especially temperature, these taxa serve as prime experimental models for quantifying the effects of environmental change.


  • October has been a big month in our lab! Jorge Lopez-Perez's thesis was published in the Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A here. And, Professor Goessing just published a study on population trends of gopher tortoises in southern Alabama in the Journal of Wildlife Management. Both of these studies were the culminations of many years of painstakingly-collected data on southeastern turtle demographics.

  • Lab personnel recently completed summer gopher tortoise transect surveys at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. This was the third sample of a two-year project, in which we will test how season affects tortoise population estimates. Thanks to multiple Eckerd students for miles of survey work in the August heat and humidity!

  • Celina Ceballos, recent Goldwater Scholar and senior thesis student, recently began a study investigating home range size, overlap, and dietary preference in gopher tortoises at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. Celina's thesis will provide a definitive answer to the question we are all asking: are gopher tortoises really picky eaters?

  • William Hawthorne published his first peer-reviewed publication in Copeia! Check it out here. Congrats, Bill!

  • Jorge Lopez-Perez recently defended his senior thesis entitled A Test for Trade-offs within the immune system of the turtle, Sternotherus minor, and has graduated and moved on to pursue a Masters degree at Southeastern Louisiana University. Jorge's primary manuscript from his thesis was invited to be submitted to a special issue in the Journal of Experimental Zoology, Part A, where it is currently under peer review. Good luck, Jorge!


Please contact Dr. Goessling (goessljm@eckerd.edu) should you be interested in our work!

If you'd like to email our broader Goessling lab group (including numerous Eckerd students!), please email glab-users@eckerd.edu.