SWiM Lab is open for wildlife research

By Daniel Morgan, Advertising Manager

Students and faculty of the West Liberty University Department of Natural Sciences & Mathematics recently welcomed the addition of a new Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWiM) Lab on the first floor of Arnett Hall.

Housing numerous aquariums and huge tanks full of freshwater, the SWiM Lab will be used to observe various wildlife species and habitats while studying the effects of landscape modification, according to Dr. Joe Greathouse, WLU assistant professor of biology.

The lab, which was funded by a donation from the Williams Companies, allows the opportunity for students to witness the hatching and growth of wildlife species, including the Eastern Hellbender Salamanders.

“More than 300 Hellbenders are now housed in the new lab and many were hatched and raised at West Liberty,” Greathouse said. “These animals are rare throughout their range. Hellbenders are candidate species for listing under the Federal Endangered Species Act.”

The reproduction and preservation of Hellbenders has been a key project at WLU, and they will be reintroduced into streams and rivers throughout the state in collaboration with the West Virginia Division of Wildlife. Greathouse previously teamed up with the Oglebay Good Zoo staff in 2007 and was the first to hatch Hellbender eggs in a zoo or aquarium.

“Already at least a dozen students are using this lab and once it’s up to full capacity, we expect hundreds to actively benefit from the research and hands-on experiences that the SWiM lab offers,” Greathouse said.

“We are grateful to the Williams Companies for this gift that allows us to start-up our new biology lab,” WLU President Stephen Greiner said. “Sustainable topics, like wildlife management, are vital to business and education as conservation issues remain in the forefront of news all over the world.”

For more information on the SWiM Lab and its associated projects, contact Greathouse at [email protected].       

Photo by Daniel Morgan.