Colin Carlson

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I am a fourth semester honors double degree student in EEB (B.S.) and IMJR - Environmental Studies (B.A.), and at the moment, I work with Tobias Landberg on a research project studying the behavior and morphology of the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina), based on footage from a Crittercam project. This project is, however, approaching an end, though we've just come out with a publication (!!), and I will soon begin another project, the topic of which is as of yet undetermined.

Research Interests

Phenotypic plasticity; herpetology; morphological constraints on behavior; environmental law and conservation biology.

Snapping Turtle Research

Homo sapiens with lizard friend Crotophytus collaris in Herpetology Lab (EEB 3265). Photo credit Robert Roehm.

This project analyzed the behavior of three Snapping Turtles (Chelydra serpentina) along the Connecticut river. The footage, collected over the summer, was from three turtles: Jawless and Lafayette from Wethersfield Cove, and Snippy from Shenipsit Lake. (see the snapping turtle research team page for the full story on the turtles). Also, for more information on Crittercam itself, visit National Geographic's Crittercam Homepage. This analysis encompasses the breath, dive, pausing, walking, and other aspects of locomotion of the three turtles. If you would like to read more about the actual data analysis going into the project, check out Snapping Turtle Research: Analyses and Conclusions.

My research on this project was divided into two main stages. First came an analysis of the duration and frequency of breathing and diving behaviors, an analysis that revealed a strong positive relationship between breath and dive duration. Second, I analyzed behavioral patterns in the turtles through an analysis of locomotion divided into five sub-categories, and found strong differences between their average limb frequency cycles.

Conservation Philosophy and Career Aspirations

"I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." - George W. Bush

A smart painted turtle chillin' in San Diego.

One of the major problems that faces conservation and environmental advocacy is that advocates don't get the environment, and environmental biologists aren't skilled advocates. This gap between activism and science is one that I have found to be a major obstacle in my environmental work as director of the Cool Coventry Club and steering comittee member of the Connecticut Youth Activist Network, and is one that has shaped my career goals profoundly. More about me: I'm part of the EcoHouse living community on campus, and am a 2009 nominee for the Udall Scholarship. After UConn, I plan to go to graduate school to receive my Ph.D., but I won't stop there - law school seems to be a reasonable next step. After all, science and policy should go hand in hand - so even though I might end up in either field, both degrees will be of use to me.


Bob was the pet snake / of Doctor Schwenk / around my nape / the snake did drape. / As you can see / a corn snake was he. Photo credit Robert Roehm.

Landberg, T., Carlson, C. J., Abernathy, K., Luginbuhl, C., Gemme, P. and Mergins, C. (2010) Natural History Notes: CHELYDRA SERPENTINA SERPENTINA L. (Eastern Snapping Turtle). SURVIVAL AFTER INJURY. Herpetological Review 41(1):70-71.

Questions or comments about this page or its twin (Snapping Turtle Research: Analyses and Conclusions) can be sent to