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St. Louis Herpetological Society

The First Solar-Powered Vertebrate (Spotted Salamanders)


-I/I 8/13 by Michael Marshall (New Scientist)

Presidents spot Meeting dates


Climate Change


Next Speaker




Turtle egg saga


Lizard recovery


Salamander tunnel



St. Louis Reptile Show dates


Classified ads


Board listing


Species: Ambystoma maculatum Habitat: Throughout the eastern USA and parts of southern Canada, leaving other salamanders green with envy

carbon dioxide and water into glucose and releases oxygen. Corals profit from this reaction by housing photosynthetic algae inside their shells. Spotted salamanders, too, are in a long-term relationship with photosynthetic algae. In 1888, biologist Henry Orr reported that their eggs often contain single-celled green algae called Oophita amblystomatis. The salamanders lay the eggs in pools of water,, and the algae colonise them within hours.

When you think about it, animals are weird. They ignore the abundant source of energy above their.... ' heads — the sun — and choose instead to invest vast amounts of energy in cumbersome equipment for By the 1940s, biologists strongly suspected it was a eating and digesting food. Why donjt they do what symbiotic relationship, beneficial to both the salaplants do, and get their energy straight from sunlight? mander embryos and the algae. The embryos release The short answer is that 'many do. Corals, are. am- : waste material, which the algae feed on. In turn the mals but have algae living in them that use sunlight to algae photosynthesise and release oxygen, which the make sugar. Many other animals, from sponges to sea embryos take in. Embryos that have more algae are slags, pull the same trick. One species of hornet can more likely to survive and. develop faster than emconvert sunlight into electricity. There are also sug- bryos with few or none. gestions that aphids can harness sunlight, although Then in 201 I the story gained an additional twist. A most biologists are unconvinced. close examination of the eggs revealed that some of But all these creatures are only distantly related to the algae were living within the embryos themselves, us. No backboned animal has been found that can and in some cases were actually inside embryoniccells. That suggested the embryos weren't just taking harness the sun — until now. It has long been suspected, and now there is hard evidence: the spotted oxygen from the algae: they might be taking glucose too. In other words, the afgae were acting as internal salamander is solar-powered. power stations, generating fuel for the salamanders. Plants make food using photosynthesis, absorbing light to power a chemical reaction that converts Continued on page 7

St. Louis Herpetological Society

General Meeting Dates For 2013:

: :

The Presidents Spot Hello to all, just think, in a few short weeks we will be able to hear our grass growing! The windows will be open and the fresh air will fill the house. The phone calls will start about snakes in the basement. Spring is always welcome at my horne. .

January J 3;

Twill not make the March meeting. I will be in Chicago for Reptile Rampage. This :ts an educational exhibit for the Wildlife Discovery Center-. If you can make it to the City^of Lake Forest check this place out.

February JO

I believe Katie Neville will be our speaker in March. I know that it will be about a trip to the Galapagos Islands. The title of her talk is; Lonesome George and Friends (Reptiles of the Galapagos). . . . . If you have any ideas for speakers please contact any board member'wjth.ypur suggestions. . ' ' . '. : ' ' " ' " . . ' . . ' • " . . - ' . _ . , . " . . . . . " > ..'.



'May 19 June 9 July 14 August I I September 8 %&> ff?




NoyeiTiber 10 December 8 General meetings are held on Sundays, at 6:30 PM Kirkwood Community Center, I I 1 South Geyer Road, Kirkwood, Mo. 63122 314-822-5855

Mission Statement The mission of the St. Louis Herpetological Society is to share knowledge within our membership and educate the general public to instill an appreciation of reptiles and amphibians and their . importance in the natural world.

Volume 47, Issue 2

Emerging Consensus Shows Climate ChangeAlready Having Major Effects on Ecosystems and Species "These geographic range and timing changes are causing cascading effects that extend U.S.-Geological Survey through ecosystems, bringing-. . In partnership with: National together species that haven't Wildlife Federation, Arizona previously interacted and creatState University ing mismatches between animals and their food sources," said Plant and animal species are shift- ' Nancy Grimm, a scientist at ASU ing their geographic ranges and and a lead author of the report. the timing of their life events Grimm explained that such missuch as flowering, laying eggs or matches in the availability and migrating — at faster rates than researchers documented just a timing of natural resources can influence species' survival; for Few years ago, according to a example, if insects emerge well technical report on biodiversity and ecosystems used as scientific before the arrival of migrating nput for the 2013 Third National birds that rely on them for food, it can adversely affect bird popuClimate Assessment. lations. Earlier thaw and shorter The report, Impacts of Climate winters can extend growing seaChange on Biodiversity, Ecosyssons for insect pests such as bark tems, and Ecosystem Services. beetles, having devastating consesynthesizes the scientific underquences for the way ecosystems standing of the way climate are structured and function. This change is affecting ecosystems, can substantially alter the benefits ecosystem services and the divqr- .people derive from ecosystems, sity of species, as weil'as what""~ such as clean water, wood prodstrategies might be used by natu- ucts and food ral resource practitioners to"—- —_..,••••' decrease current and future "The impact of climate change on risks. More than 60 federal, aca- ecosystems has important implidemic and other scientists, incations for people and communicluding the lead authors from the ties," said Amanda Staudt, a NWF climate scientist and a lead U.S. Geological Survey, the Naauthor on the report. "Shifting tional Wildlife Federation and climate conditions are affecting Arizona State University in Tempe, authored the assessment. valuable ecosystem services, such as the role that coastal habitats J 2/18/201 i U.S. Department of the Interior,

play in dampening storm surge or the ability of our forests to provide timber and help .filter our drinking water." -. :...-.,•

the abundance and geographic range of economically important marine fish. "These changes will almost certainly'continue, resulting in some local fisheries declining or disappearing while others may grow and bec9me more valuable if fishing communities can find socially and economically viable ways to adapt to these changes."

Another key finding is the mounting evidence that population declines and increased extinction risks for some plant and animal species can be directly attributed to climate change. The most vufnerable species are those already degraded by other Natural resource managers are human-caused stressors such as already contending with what pollution or exploitation, unable climate change means for the way to shift their geographic range or they approach conservation. For timing of key life events, or that example, the report stated, land have narrow environmental or managers are now more focused ecological tolerance. For examon the connectivity of protected ple, species that must live at high habitats, which can improve a altitudes or live in cold water species' ability to shift its geowith a narrow temperature graphic range to follow optimal range, such as salmon, face an conditions for survival. even greater risk due to climate "The conservation community is change. grappling with how we manage "The report clearly indicates that our natural resources in the face as climate change continues to of climate change, so that we can impact ecological systems, a net help our ecosystems to continue loss of global species' diversity, as meeting the needs of both people well as major shifts in the proviand wildlife," said Bruce Stein, a sion of ecosystem services, are lead author of the report and quite likely," said Michelle Staud- director of climate adaptation at inger, a lead author of the report the National Wildlife Federation. and a USGS and University of States will need to improve covMissouri scientist. erage through time and in geoFor example, she added, climate graphic area to detect and track change is already causing shifts in climate-induced shifts in ecosys-

St. Louis Herpetological Society

The speaker for the March 10, 2013 meeting will be;

Katie Neville (Lonesome George and Friends (Reptiles of the Galapagos;)

Lonesome George

Schedule of Events 2013 General Meetings SUNDAY 6:30PM

. . . . : , „ . .March 1 0 .

2013 Board Meetings TUESDAYS 7PM

March 12

April 14

April 16

General Meetings are held 6:30PM Kirkwood Community Center I I I South Geyer Road

Board Meetings are held Tuesdays at 7PM Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church 921 Edgar Road Webster Groves, Mo. 63 f f9 314-968-9808

Kirkwood MO 63 122 314-822-5855

Volume 47, Issue 2

Minutes of the Executive Meeting for January 15, 2013 President Steve Brown called the meeting to order at 7:05 •

Josh Higgins did a nice job with the Sunday meeting. Thanks Josh!

Michael Brodt paid the annual fees for SLHS website. ($35.40 for website and $ 13.75 for domain registration)

We have requests for presentations and need speakers to cover these events.

The Feb, talk will be "Box Turtle Habitat Preferences, Population Health Assessment, and Management Suggestions to Reduce Turtle Mortality" given by Beth Walton. .

Curt loves Windows 8. Really, it is fabulous.


. .




• . Curt has called Mark Adams about the SLHS having a booth at the Boat Show. •

Mary is having a few issues printing labels for newsletter trying to fix it.

Meeting ended at 7:25 7 people were present

Minutes of the Executive meeting for February I 1 , 2 0 1 3 President Steve Brown started the meeting at 7:06 •

We All agreed that Beth Walton's talk Sunday night was great. Thanks to the speaker and all those attending.

Michael Brodt renewed website and domain for the year. The bill was just under $50 for both.

The Turtle Survival Alliance will have its' symposium in St. Louis again in 2013. If we get a flyer for the upcoming event we will run it in our newsletter. Lynn is working on it.

The next St. Louis reptile Show is up coming and items that we will have for sale were discussed.

Curt will help our webmaster. Ann Hirschfeld put a PayPal button on the website:for donations and memberships.

Treasury report- we had income of $217.00 and expenses of $ 100.64, so we had positive cash flow of $ I 16.36 for December.

Curt was not able to get in touch with the promoter of the St. Louis Boat and Sports Show.

The meeting ended at 7:38p.m. 10 people were present at the board meeting



St. Louis Herpetological Society

Page 6

How the Geoemyda spengleri got through egg-binding and survived. Article and photo by Ann Hirschfeld The problem: I was doing my morning rounds of the turtle room when I noticed something amiss with one of my female Geoemyda spengleri ' " . . (Vietnamese black-breasted leaf turtle). As I examined her I saw that she had what looked to be an egg lodged just inside her cloaca. I could see the white of the egg at the opening. I thought I had just caught her In mid-oviposition so left her alone for theday. Returning.that evening I saw that nothing- had change and the turtle was in distress. In other egg binding incidents I have experienced the eggs are still in the body cavity and contractions were induced using oxytocin. But this situation was different and past the stage where that drug would help. The

and I carefully collapsed it. The trick was to keep it from fragmenting into small pieces. That would've made it difficult to make sure none of the eggshell was left behind. The lining inside the shell of the egg acted as a casing to keep the pieces together. In the end I only had the egg break into three pieces which were pulled out successfully. The key was the amount of oil I applied to the eggshell. Boy, was I relieved to see that the entire egg had come out. I bet the speng

It is hard to know why this happened but I have a theory. This female has produced : many eggs without problem in the 15+ years that I've had her. The fact that she was gravid in January was very .unusual as my females consistently lay between April and August every year. Could it be the strange seasons we've had that upset her pattern? And, could the fact that she was trying to lay

was too. That couldn't have felt good .

ity .is at its driest be a. factor? The turtles are

In conclusion: As much as I hated to crush the egg and kill the embryo it was worth it to save the adult

in a much slower state this time of the year and this may have contributed to the problem. It is all guesswork but I am thankful

in the' dead of winter when the ambient humid-

egg was just plain stuck. Of course, this happened on a Saturday and it was already too late to get her to the vet. I swabbed mineral oil on the opening of the cloaca and tried to get some of it inside on the egg without breaking it then left her alone for the night and hoped for the best. Sunday morning showed no change^gxgept the turtle was getting weaker. Thankfully we live in the age of the Internet with its vast wealth of information. After some digging around via Google I found an article on a similar situation only the patient was a Yellow footed tortoise. The article went through, in detail, the process of removing the egg and proved to be life saving for my little speng. The procedure: As instructed I"tried puncturing the egg with a needle and syringe to draw out the yoke in the egg. I got some fluid out but the yoke itself was too thick to come through the needle. So the next step was to use a q-tip doused in mineral oil and lubricate the shell of the egg as much as (could. Fortunately, I was able to carefully work the q-tip into the cloaca and get the oil around much of the egg. I made sure it was well coated. The poor little turtle was co-operating very well which was surprising considering what I was

turtle. Spengleri generally lay only one (huge) egg at a time so I was relatively confident she didn't have any more eggs for me to worry about. doing to her! . .She was slow for a few days afterward but regained strength with daily soaks. She will Step two involved taking a sterilized pair of be kept in a warm clean tub for the remainforceps and enlarging the hole in the egg that der of her recovery and will not return to I made with the needle. I then removed the the breeding group for at least a year. She is yoke with the forceps. The last step was to, eating worms with gusto and seems to be ever so gently, pull the egg out. While graspdoing very well. ing the egg with the forceps the egg broke

she made it through. Note: The on(y reason f attempted'thfs myseffwas because I did not have access to a vet and feared she would not make it until I could get her to one. I recommend to anyone who thinks they have an egg bound reptile to seek veterinary expertise if at all possible.

Volume 47, Issue 2

California's Island Night Lizard Makes Comeback After more than 35 years, USFWS proposes removal of Xantusia riversiana from Endangered Species List.

;, February 4, 2013




The island night lizard (Xantusia riversiana), native only to the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California, has enjoyed such a recovery to its population that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to remove the reptile from the list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act. The lizard was first added to the list of endangered species in 1977, when it was listed as a threatened species due in large part to the introduction of nonnative pigs and goats that destroyed the lizard's habitat. In 1984 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began a recovery plan for the species that was focused on ; restoring the animal's habitat and educating the public about the species. The service says that there are approximately 21.3 million lizards on San Clemente Island, 15,300 on San Nicolas Island, and 17,600 on Santa Bar-

their name, studies of the lizard on Santa Barbara Island have shown that the lizard is most active during the middle of the

use it," Collette Adkins Giese, a day. Center for Biological Diversity attorney and biologist said in a statement released by the-Center. "Protections under this land- The First Solar-powered Continued from page I mark law have been essential in . Vertebrate cont. reversing the trend toward extinction for so many, of our country's rarest and most unique To find out if that Was happening, only take in the carbon-14 via Erin Graham of Temple Univer- photosynthesis in the algae. wildlife and plants." sity in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and colleagues incubated sala- The algae do not seem to be The island night lizard grows to mander eggs in water...containing essential to the embryos, but about 4 inches in body length and is omnivorous. Its coloration radioactive carbon-14. Algae take ' they are very helpful: embryos up the isotope in the form of deprived of algae struggle. "Their ranges from pale gray to brown or black with striped or mottled carbon dioxide, producing radio- survival rate is much lower and their growth is slowe'd;" says . patterns. It is a livebearer, giving active glucose. Graham. birth to live young rather than Graham found that the embryos laying eggs. It is also a slow became mildly radioactive — growing lizard. It is estimated unless kept in the dark. That that the lizards can live more showed that the embryos could than 30 years. And contrary to

bara Island. "The recovery of the island night lizard is yet another example of how well the Endangered Species Act works once we decide to

Spring is coming soon!

Submissions for the newsletter:

If you would like to submit content for the newsletter please send to Curt Hendricks at guitljzard I by the 15th of February, April, June, August, October, December. This includes advertisements for the classified ads as well as articles, photos and any other pertinent material. Thank you!

St. Louis Herpetological Society especially susceptible to climate change because small precipitaI Other key findings of the report tion or temperature shifts can cause large ecosystem changes. I include: Longer growing seasons and • Changes in precipitation and warmer winters are already in-, creasing the likelihood of pest I extreme weather events can outbreaks, leading to tree moroverwhelm the ability of natural tality and more intense, extensystems to reduce or prevent sive fires. Decreased or unreliharm to people from these . able snowfall for winter sports events. For example, more fre-. and recreation will likely cause quent heavy rainfall events inhigh future economic losses. crease the movement of nutri- ' ents and pollutants to. down- • • The ecosystem services I stream ecosystems, likely result-", provided by coastal habitats are ing not only in ecosystem'change, especially vulnerable to sea-level but also in adverse changes in the rise and more severe storms. I quality of drinking water and a The Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico greater risk of waterborne- • . coasts are most vulnerable to the 1 disease outbreaks. loss of coastal protection ser-

Emerging Consensus cont.

• Changes in winter have big and surprising effects on ecosystems and their services. Changes in soil freezing, snow cover and air temperature affect the ability of ecosystems to store carbon, which, in turn, influences agricultural and forest production. Seasonally snow-covered regions are

vices provided by wetlands and coral reefs. Along the Pacific coast, long-term dune erosion caused by increasing wave heights is projected to cause problems for communities and for recreational beach activities. However, other kinds of recreation will probably improve due

to better weather, with the net effect being that visitors and tourism dollars will shift away from some communities in favor of others.

climate-induced shifts in ecosystems and species.

<> Climate change adaptation strategies are vital for the conservation of diverse.species and effective natural resource policy and management. As more adaptive management approaches are developed, resource managers can enhance the country's ability to respond to the impacts of climate change through forwardlooking and climate scienceinformed goals and actions. Ecological monitoring needs tobe improved and better coordinated among federal and state agencies to ensure the impacts of climate change are adequately monitored and to support ecological research, management, assessment and policy. Existing tracking networks in the United States will need to improve coverage through time and in geographic area to detect and track

Federal law requires that the U.S. Global Change Research Program submit an assessment of climate change and its impacts to the President and the Congress once every four years. Technical reports, articles and books — such as this report — underpin the corresponding chapters of the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment, due.out in 2013. This technical report is available at the USGCRP website, as are other completed technical reports. Additional lead authors of this report include Shawn Carter, USGS: F. Stuart Chapin III, University of Alaska, Fairbanks; Peter Kareiva, The Nature Conservancy; and Mary Ruckel-



shaus, Natural Capital Project.

a (California Tiger Salamander)

By Bob Norberg, The Press Democrat, 1/15/13 It seemed like an odd idea at the I time, building tunnels under a busy road to help California tiger salamanders travel safely from their hillside homes to a nearby pond where the endangered species can breed.

ters degree in conservation biology.

as far as a half-mile to breed in ponds.

"There are lots of things that fragment habitat of migrating animals," Bain said. "For these salamanders, who go from their upland habitat, where they are year-around, to the pond, the

One such breeding area is near Cotati, where the tiger salamanders live in the uphill grasslands on one side of Stony Point Road. The breeding ponds, where they lay their eggs, is on the other

road Is the problem." The plan, however, appears to have worked, according to biologists who are studying the tunnels, built two years ago under StonyPoint Road near Cotati.

The tunnels were constructed two years ago by So n o ma County, using a $150,000 grant from a Caltrans fund to offset environmentaleffects of road"I haven't analyzed all the data. work. It was an idea proposed Everything is preliminary, but just four years ago by David Cook, a a broad general conclusion is senior environmental specialist these crossing tunnels are work- for the Sonoma County Water lng;They are functional, and Agency who studies amphibians, salamanders are using them," said such as frogs and'salamanders. • Tracy Bain, a graduate student at California tiger salamanders are 8 Sonoma State University. -inch amphibians with bright The San Francisco resident is spots that live in gopher holes writing her thesis on the effecbut come out during the first tiveness of the tunnels for a mas- evening rains of winter, migrating

Cook said, however, it is no different than protecting salmon, also on the endangered species list, and tunnels are no different than fish ladders.

Before the tunnels were built, the half-mile stretch of Stony. Point Road was a "blood bath" as the salamanders were crushed by side of the road. . cars as they tried to cross the "I was doing wildlife studies for a road, Cook said. Water Agency proposed pipeline in the area and 1 found this major He said there could be several migration route that crosses hundred salamanders that live in Stony Point and a frequent mor- the area, although the number is difficult to estimate because they tality," Cook said. The salamanders'were listed as an endangered species in Sonoma County in 2003 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, becoming a lightning rod for criticism by developers and growth advocates, who complain the amphibians' protected status holds up projects.

live underground. "It is the only known breeding pond fn the area. Safamanders living on the other side of the road have to cross to reproduce, and if .they don't, the population will start to decline," Cook said. Continued next page

Volume 47, Issue 2 ^^^^^fff^mtmmmfmmmmmmmmmmmmm

how Five Times a Year •

• •



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May 19, July 14, Sept. 8 Nov. 10 and Dee. 29

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Holiday Inn Southwest ViKing Conference Center 10709 Watson Rd St. Louis, MO 63127 For More Information & Vendor Listings, Visit Our Webpage;

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Salamander tunnel cont. The 10-inch steel pipes are about 35 feet long, with foot-high plastic fencing that acts as funnels to guide the salamanders in. On recent rainy nights, Bain and some helpers have gathered at the road, picking up salamanders and putting them near the entrances of the pipes. Sometimes it takes more than one attempt, but many of the 100 salamanders they found did make their

Would you like to place an ad in the newsletter? . Free ads up to 25

the researchers. "It doesn't mean the tunnels will save the sp"ecies from extinction statewide, but in this area, it turned out to be a good idea," Cook said.

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Non-members may also place ads for a small fee.

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way through the tunnels and back. Even after they left, infrared cameras recorded salamanders using the tunnels without any help from

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St. Louis Herpetological Society

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Volume 47, Issue 2

St. Louis Herpetological Society Board Members BOARD OF DIRECTORS Presfdent: Steve Brown 636-942-3 131 E: sdk3brown@sbcg(


Vice President: John Ward

Lynn Hartke *â&#x20AC;˘ : 3 1.4-645-55 12.. E:


3 14-645-55 12 E:

Treasurer: John Faletti

Ed Bielik

618-345-5877 E:

314-775-8142 E: , .. .

Editor: Curt Hendricks 3 14-772-0435 E:

Steve Heinrich .3I4-353U2I8 E:

Assistant Editor: Debbie Brown 636-942-3 13 I E:

Katie Neville Membership Secretary: Mary Heinrich 3 14-353-4218 E:

314-920-7080 E:

Corresponding Secretary: Michael Brodt 636-586-3702 E:

U.S. government stied over endangered sea turtles (Loggerheads on West Coast.) 1/8/2013 By Tom Brown Three environmental groups sued the U.S. government on Tuesday for what they said was Washington's failure to take urgent steps to ensure the survival of endangered loggerhead sea turtles. "Loggerhead sea turtles are among the most imperiled of sea turtle species and have experienced alarming declines in recent years," said the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The lawsuit said loggerheads were already being pushed to the brink of extinction and that the government had failed to comply with deadlines set under the Endangered " Species Act to establish protected areas or "critical habitat" for loggerhead sea turtle populations.

or degradation habitats, pollution including oil spills, climate change and sea level rise among According to the Center for Biological other threats to the long-term survival of Diversity, Northern Pacific loggerheads, have seen the most startling population the marine turtles. decline in recent years. They nest in Japan, "Loggerhead sea turtles face numerous, and cross the Pacific to feed along the ongoing threats in waters off the coasts of coasts of Southern California and Mexico, California and Hawaii, along the continen- and have declined by at least 80 percent tal shelf off the eastern seaboard from over the past decade. Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts, south through Florida and the Gulf of Mexico," it Defendants named in the lawsuit include the National Marine Fisheries Service and said. the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Government spokesmen declined to com"The Services are depriving this critically ment on the lawsuit. imperiled species of significant legal proThe legal complaint said the "incidental tections that are important for its consercapture, injury and death by commercial vation and recovery, especially in light of fishing fleets" posed another clear danger the continuing negative effects of climate change and commercial fishing activities to the loggerheads. â&#x20AC;˘ which include the use of harmful Ipriglines, Of the seven species of sea turtles, six are trawls and gillnets," the lawsuit said found in U.S. waters. The marine reptiles live mostly in the ocean and often migrate long distances, but adult females return to land to lay their eggs along beaches.

Florida beaches have the largest nesting The suit, brought by the Center for Biopopulation of loggerheads in the United logical Diversity, Oceana Inc and Turtle States but face increasing threats from Island Restoration, cited the destruction

OS MAR 2013;PM 7

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St. Louis Herp Society - March/April 2013  

St. Louis Herpetological Society March/April 2013 Newsletter

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