Searching for Traces of the Elusive Hellbender

This project is a collaborative partnership between the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Buffalo State College, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, The Wilds, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, and Memphis Zoo. Photography by Steven Johnson, Eastern Mennonite University.




  1. Thomas Hayes says:

    Greetings Kimberly,

    After surveying and monitoring hellbenders for several years with the conventional method of rock flipping, I concur with the conclusion that rock flipping is invasive not only to the hellbender den but the process disturbs the nest sites of companion species such as the mudpuppy. Other species associated with the micro-habitat include freshwater mussel species and various fish species are also impacted.

    Thanks for the uptake on the new age methodology involving better science. Good job.

    – Tom Hayes

  2. Kimberly Terrell says:

    Hi Tom, thanks for raising these excellent points. I know it’s a controversial subject, and I try to take a diplomatic approach. I think the impacts of rock-flipping surveys definitely vary by stream system (and surveyor), with disturbance being more of an issue in faster-flowing streams. But eDNA is always a non-invasive option.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *