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A National and Southeast CASC science communication summer intern shares her experience of searching the forests of North Carolina for snakes and studying their parasites with North Carolina State University graduate students.

Parasites can be important indicators of the health of an ecosystems’ wildlife and habitat. In a recent article from North Carolina State University’s (NCSU) Applied Ecology News, National and Southeast CASC-supported science communication summer intern Morgan Chavis, a sophomore at North Carolina A&T, shares how she was able to assist NCSU Ph.D. student Alex Nelson and M.Sc. student Emily Oven in studying snake parasitology. The scientists searched for snakes in forests across North Carolina, swabbing them for fungus and checking their environments for signs of parasites. Data collected through this field work will be used to get a better understanding of snakes’ parasites and may allow the researchers to also track the snakes through parasite proxies, widening their toolbox for how they monitor the health of snake populations. Knowledge about how common parasites are in a given ecosystem could also serve as an alternative indicator of climate and land use change impacts on snake populations.

The National and Southeast CASCs host science communication interns at North Carolina State University.