About Me and Contact Information
Common Snapping Turtle (left) and my Savannah Monitor Lizard, Goliath (middle), and me with a Wisconsin Bullsnake (right).
Unlike most students who decide they want to pursue a career in the biological sciences, I immediately knew what aspect I was interested in. In fact, this was something that I was aware of well before I became a biology major at UW-La Crosse. Amphibians and Reptiles had been a source of enjoyment and fascination for me spanning back to my adolescence. Long days did I spend patrolling the muddy banks of ponds located near my childhood home in Stoughton, WI., searching for Leopard Frogs or Painted Turtles. For many hours did I traverse the nearby railroad tracks looking for Garter Snakes, or Brown Snakes. Time and time again, I would march home with a new "pet" for the summer (much to my parents' dismay), that was usually a juvenile Snapping Turtle or Spiny Softshell that I had wandered across near the Yahara River.
Therefore, it came as no surprise that once I reached college (after a brief stint as a music major), I headed into the Biology Department, searching for a way to study the animals I grew up adoring. Here I met my first mentor and friend, Dr. Daniel Sutherland, who directed me in the ways of science and allowed me to work on a project involving an amphibian parasite known to induce skeletal malformations in anurans, Ribeiroia ondatrae. After finishing my undergraduate work, I began working towards a Master's degree researching the effects of agricultural pond water on the development of the Northern Leopard Frog under the direction of Dr. Mark Sandeinrich (UW-La Crosse), and Melinda Knuston (Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, USGS-La Crosse). While working towards my Master's Degree, I also had the pleasure of collaborating with the wonderful folks at the Hixon forest Nature Center in La Crosse. They allowed me to give presentations, write editorials for their newsletters, and develop amphibian monitoring protocols for the Myrick Park Marsh (all of which are opportunities that I am forever grateful to them for).
Currently, I am working towards my Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee under Dr. James Coggins. My research has shifted from amphibians to reptiles and I am now studying the ecology of bullsnakes in Wisconsin. Although I no longer live in the La Crosse area, I am still willing to answer any questions regarding herps there.
Where does a herpetologist go from here? Hopefully to more herpetological studies, however, the lack of public interest in these wonderful critters limits the funding available for their study. Unfortunately, to study these often ignored animals, takes a fair amount of convincing. Who knows how it will turn out. I have been blessed with a very understanding and loving wife as well as wonderful parents and siblings. For that alone, I'm grateful.
Finally, I encourage people to contact myself or the DNR before they kill any snake they find near their home. I also encourage people to email me any herp sightings within La Crosse that involve species, which have eluded me.
I can be reached for questions about area herps at the below contact information:
Joshua M. Kapfer, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Milwaukee, WI 53211.
Myself and "Sue", the most complete T. rex skeleton known (Field Museum, Chicago)