Noteworthy News

Biological station hosts entomology course, salamander researchers

The Highlands Biological Station staff recently hosted two events that brought scientists to the facility in the town of Highlands from around the nation and world.

For a two-week period, Aug. 8-20, the staff hosted the annual “HYM Course” led by several Smithsonian Institute entomologists, in cooperation with the Entomological Society of Washington. “HYM” is short for Hymenoptera – bees, wasps, ants and their relatives, said station Executive Director James Costa, who also is a professor of biology at WCU.

“The course is held in different locations nationally and internationally every year, and they chose Highlands this year for both the rich insect fauna and the excellent HBS facilities,” Costa said. Scientists from 11 states and four foreign countries attended the course.

Earlier in the month, Aug. 4-7, the station staff hosted the Special Highlands Conference on Plethodontid Salamander Biology, which was held at The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center in Highlands. More than 100 salamander researchers attended from across the U.S. and Mexico, Costa said.

The Highlands Biological Station has been a center of research on Plethodontid “lungless” salamanders since its founding 89 years ago, and the station initiated a series of conferences on the topic beginning in the early 1970s. The conferences are held at various locations around the U.S. and Mexico, and come back to Highlands periodically, Costa said.

This year’s event was “special” in that it had some extra purposes – to get an early start on kicking off the 90th anniversary year of the Highlands Biological Station, and to celebrate the retirement of several longtime researchers who have based their work out of the facility, Lynne Houck and Steve Arnold of Oregon State University and Rick and Pam Feldhoff of the University of Louisville, Costa said.

The Highlands Biological Station is a University of North Carolina system facility that is administered by WCU. For more information about the station and its affiliated Highlands Nature Center, go to www.wcu.edu/hbs.

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