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Pepperdine | Seaver College

Group photo of lab researches in nature

Behavioral Ecology Research Laboratory

We are an undergraduate research group based at Pepperdine University, engaging in both field work and laboratory research to promote conservation of our local Santa Monica Mountain streams. We primarily study the behavior of native amphibians and reptiles, most notably the California newt (Taricha torosa). Our laboratory also focuses on invasive predator behavior and understanding these species' impact on native species. In particular, we have spent the last several years dedicated to investigating the invasive red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) behavior and their overarching impact on species in the Santa Monica Mountains.

During the summer months, we engage in intensive field work in collaboration with the United States Geological Survey (USGS). For the last three decades our laboratory has collected data in local streams, collecting geological data and herpetofaunal data at the individual, population, and community levels. We have made strides in our conservation and outreach efforts through our collaboration with the USGS.

Our laboratory also houses many local amphibians, including California newts (Taricha torosa), Kaiser mountain newts (Neurergus kaiseri), tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum), and various species of tropical dart frogs.