Ashland University’s Environmental Lecture Series to Focus on Salamander Conservation ‘In Our Own Backyard’

Ashland University’s Environmental Lecture Series to Focus on Salamander Conservation ‘In Our Own Backyard’

2/1/16 ASHLAND, Ohio – The next event in Ashland University’s Environmental Lecture Series for 2015-16 will be a presentation by Greg Lipps, who is a Herpetological and GIS consultant and the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation coordinator with the Ohio Biodiversity Conservation Partnership at the Ohio State University.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held Thursday, Feb. 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Ronk Lecture Hall in the Dwight Schar College of Education. Lipps will speak on “Partnering to Protect Ohio's Giant Salamander, the Eastern Hellbender.” The Eastern Hellbender is one of only two completely aquatic salamanders found in the state of Ohio.

Lipps is the Amphibian & Reptile Conservation coordinator for the Ohio Biodiversity Conservation Partnership at OSU. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Lipps moved to Toledo in 1995 where he took a position in the Department of Herpetology at the Toledo Zoo. After leaving the zoo, he completed his Masters in Biology in 2005 at Bowling Green State University, focusing on utilizing emerging technologies (Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing) for applied conservation. 

After graduating, Lipps worked as an independent biologist for state agencies and NGO’s, conducting surveys of amphibians and reptiles throughout the state and collaborating on conservation strategies for a wide range of species and ecosystems. Specifically, he has conducted surveys for many of Ohio’s rare and endangered amphibians and reptiles, including Green Salamanders, Cave Salamanders, Blue-spotted Salamanders, Eastern Massasaugas, Spotted Turtles, and Blanding’s Turtles. 

For the past decade, Lipps has spent much of his time investigating the status and distribution of Eastern Hellbenders, determining threats to the viability of populations, and leading a partnership to restore Hellbenders in Ohio. He is an editor and contributing author to the recently released book Amphibians of Ohio and the forthcoming Reptiles of Ohio. He resides in the Oak Openings Region southwest of Toledo and is past co-chair of the Midwest Regional Working Group of Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC).

The goal of the “In Our Own Backyard” series this year is to explore examples of local natural history and ecology and make connections to issues, questions and plans for the future.

“Here, we define ‘local’ as Ashland and Richland counties in particular and north-central Ohio in general. This part of Ohio represents a unique intersection of geological and biological histories, so our landscape and the wildlife that live here are quite rich,” said Dr. Patricia Saunders, associate professor of biology and director of AU’s Environmental Science Program. “This year's environmental lecture series includes wetland and upland examples that offer different perspectives on what makes our own backyard so special.”

The Environmental Lecture Series was established at Ashland University after the Environmental Science program was implemented in 1991-92. The lecture series was designed to support the Environmental Science program by allowing students, faculty and members of North Central Ohio communities to interact with leaders in environmental science and policy. Over the years, the lecture series has generated significant campus and community involvement and support. Recent lectures are archived for viewing at

Current support for the lecture series is provided by a grant from the Lubrizol Foundation, additional support from Ashland University, and donations from individuals. Past series have been supported by AU and grants from the GTE Foundation and the Fran and Warren Rupp Foundation.

The final presentation of this year’s series will be by Rick Gardner on Thursday, March 17. Gardiner is chief botanist for the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. He will share his botanical perspective on “Ohio's natural heritage, with a focus on Ashland and Richland Counties."

Updated information on the series is available at

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2016, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###