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Invited Speaker

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Dr. Daniel D. Beck, grew up in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City, Utah. His inspiration for herpetology came early, from raising chickens as a kid and working as a reptile keeper at Salt Lake’s Hogle Zoo in the 1970s. He completed a B.S. and M.S. in Biology and Ecology from Utah State University (1986) and a Ph.D. in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Physiology from the University of Arizona (1992). Dan came to Central Washington University in 1994, where he taught courses ranging from introductory biology and biostatistics to herpetology and field ecology. He has mentored over 60 graduate students (23 as major professor) and hundreds of undergraduate students in ecological field research, much of it in Mexico. Dan’s pioneering field and laboratory studies of Gila Monster and Beaded Lizard ecology has helped us better understand their thermal biology, spectacular combat rituals, dietary specialization on vertebrate nests, use of habitat and importance of shelters, and their curiously low metabolic rates in the face of high aerobic capacities. His book “Biology of Gila Monsters and Beaded Lizards” (University of California Press 2005) is a standard reference for these amazing creatures. Dan retired in 2022 and is currently professor emeritus of biology at CWU, where he and his students continue projects on herpetofauna of the western USA, and on tropical dry forest ecology in Mexico. He lives in a straw bale home in Ellensburg, Washington with his wife and fellow biologist Kris Ernest.

Title: What is a Lizard? Emerging Insights from Studies of Heloderma

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