James F. Mahaffy
Professor of Biology emeritus
Dordt College
Sioux Center, Iowa 51250

 Educational record:

1999 Ph.D. University of Illinois (Urbana campus)
1975-1977 N. S. F. traineeship (University Fellow)
1975 MS University of Illinois (Urbana campus)
1970 BA Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa cum laude

Teaching areas

 Research interests

 Professional Activities

Publications and articles

McConnel, M. and Mahaffy JF 2013.An Early Case of Fetal Loss Due to Rattlesnake Bite. Herpetological review. Manuscript submitted for publication.

Mahaffy, JF. 2012.  Historic Evidence for Rattlesnakes across Iowa: A Preliminary Report. Unpublished manuscript

Mahaffy, JF.  2011. Two additional rattlesnake bites from Ontario.  Canadian Herpetologist 1(1):13-15. Spring 2011  Click here for pdf

 Mahaffy, JF. 2005. Protozoa at Dordt College. A DVD of microscopic images and video prepared for interested educators and produced with the help of Karl Kaemingk of Unity Christian High School.

Mahaffy, JF. 2005 Why cougar (mountain lions) are again appearing in our area. Article written for the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls South Dakota.  Click here for pdf.

Mahaffy, JF. 2003. Mountain Lion Killed in rural Sioux County (including necroscopy report). Available on the web at http://homepages.dordt.edu/~mahaffy/mtlion/SiouxCountykill.htm Also published on the cougar network at: http://www.easterncougarnet.org/FieldReportIowa10-03.htm

Mahaffy, JF. 2002.  The case for relict population(s) of the prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus virdis viridis) in Sioux County, Iowa and Lincoln and Union counties in South Dakota. An earlier version (2001) of this manuscript is on file with Doug Harr of the Iowa DNR at the Wildlife Research Station in Boone, Iowa

Mahaffy, JF. 2001. Historic and recent evidence for rattlesnakes (most likely the prairie rattlesnake, Crotalus viridis viridis and possibly the massasauga, Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) in Monona and southernmost Woodbury County from the area of the Loess Hills in NW Iowa: A preliminary report. Manuscript on file with Doug Harr of the Iowa DNR at the Wildlife Research Station in Boone, Iowa.

Mahaffy, JF. 1999. Vegetational patterns in the Herrin and Springfield coals (Middle Pennsylvanian of Illinois), based on miospore profiles with comparison to coal-ball patterns. Ph.D. Thesis University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 211 p. Summary

Mahaffy, JF. 1998 (Spring issue). Great demo with mites. MABT (Massachusetts Association of Biology Teachers) News p.5.

Mahaffy, JF. 1988. Vegetational history of the Springfield Coal (Middle Pennsylvanian of Illinois) and distribution patterns of a tree-fern miospore, Thymospora pseudothiessenii, based on miospore profiles. Int. J. Coal Gel. 10:239-260.

Mahaffy, JF. 1985, Profile patterns of coal and peat palynology in the Herrin (No. 6) Coal Member, Carbondale Formation, Middle Pennsylvanian of Southern Illinois. Compte Rendu, Ninth International Congress of Carboniferous Stratigraphy and Geology, May 17-26, 1979, Washington and Champaign-Urbana, IL., V.5:25-34.

DiMichele, W.B., Mahaffy, J.F., and. Phillips, T.L., 1979. Lycopods of Pennsylvanian age coals: Polysporia, Can. J. of Bot., 57(16): 1740-1753.

Abstracts or workshops:

Tazelaar, K. and Mahaffy, J.F. 2013. Historic massasauga populations in Northern Missouri. Presented at the 26th annual meeting of the Missouri Herpetological Society at Reis Biological Station on September 29 2013. Click here for abstract.

Mahaffy, J.F. 2012. The use of historic accounts and records to establish early ranges of rattlesnakes in Iowa and Minnesota in areas that lack voucher specimens. Invited talk at the conference on the status of Iowa Amphibians and Reptiles at Mount Mercy University on September 22 2012. Click here for abstract.

Mahaffy, J.F. 2009.  Historic Extensions of Rattlesnake Ranges (Timber Rattlesnake, Crotalus horridus and Massasauga, Sistrurus catenatus) from Five Counties in South-eastern and South-central Minnesota. Presented at ASIH meetings July 22-27 at Portland Oregon.  Click here for abstract.

Mahaffy, J.F. 2007. Historic Evidence for Rattlesnakes (Massasauga, Sistrurus catenatus, and the Timber Rattlesnake, Crotalus horridus) from Mitchell County in Northeastern Iowa and from Mower County in Southeastern Minnesota. Presented at ASIH meetings July 11-17 at St Louis, Missouri.. Click here for abstract.

Herdegen, Amy (Groeneboon)  and Mahaffy, J. F. 2006.Antimalarial Activity of Two Varieties of Papaya (Carica papaya) Extracts. ASA annual meetings at Calvin College, Grand Rapids Michigan on July 28 - July 31, 2006.

Mahaffy, J.F., 2005.  Why are mountain lions reappearing in eastern South Dakota?  How do we live with this carnivore?  Invited talk for earth Day at Great Plains Zoo (Sioux Falls) on April 29th.

Mahaffy, J.F. 2005  Learning station: Cougars.  Presented at the B. J. Haan education Conference on Teaching Science in the Christian School (March 10-11, 2005 at Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa).

Mahaffy, J.F. 2004.  Mountain Lions in Iowa.  Invited speaker for the Iowa Roadside Conference on Oct. 7th in Harlan Iowa.

Mahaffy, J.F. 2004. Presentation and help with opening of mountain lion display at Hartman Reserve Nature Center on Sept 14th in Cedar Rapids. Ron Andrews of the Iowa DNR had been scheduled to be there but cancelled because of heart surgery

Mahaffy, J.F., 2001. Cretaceous exposures in NW Iowa along the Big Sioux River north of Sioux City:  A guidebook for a field trip for the 2001 Heartland Teacher's Convention at Dordt College.

Mahaffy, J.F., 1999. Profile patterns and their paleoecological interpretation in the Herrin (No. 6) Coal Member at Old Ben No. 24 mine (Franklin County, Illinois) (abst.). 32 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists. (Savannah, Georgia).

Mahaffy, J.F., 1976. Philosophical presuppositions used in systematizing the fossil data, Given at annual ASA meeting (Wheaton, Ill.).

Mahaffy, J.F. 1975. Morphology of Microspermopteris and occurrences in Middle Pennsylvanian Coal Balls, Bot. Soc. of Amer. Abst. p.22

Work in progress:

Manuscript stage

Bakker, K.,* Schut, K.,* Mahaffy, J.F., and Pung, O.** Absence of Trypanosoma cruzi in raccoons and an opossum in Northwest Iowa. (*Undergraduate Research project at Dordt College, **Georgia Southern University)

Mahaffy, J.F., Profile patterns and their paleoecological interpretation in the Herrin (No. 6) Coal Member at Old Ben No. 24 mine (Franklin County, Illinois)

Mahaffy, J.F., Comparison of coal ball and miospore deposition using R-Ratios in an Upper Carboniferous Coal.

Current research projects

(Many in collaboration with undergraduate students)

Expanding range of Felis concolor.  I have been investigating mountain lion (cougar) have moved into the area this area in western border of Iowa and southeast South Dakota. Local reports are investigated and significant results are shared with the Iowa fur bearer of the DNR, Ron Andrews. In October 2003, I was involved in the investigation and participated in the necrosopy of the cougar that was shot in Western Sioux County. In the Spring of 2004, a biology student, Travis Pollema,  was involved in this mountain lion work as an individual studies (Pollema 2004).  This involved two reports that included prints.  The prints in NW Lyon County were likely cougar.  Those on a farm in the center of Sioux county were independently verified by several cougar experts to be mountain lion (Pollema and Mahaffy 2004).  Other local signs of what is probably the same cat indicate the cat was at least temporarily setting up territory. Another part of this research involved field testing three kinds of camera traps for their utility in confirming location of cougar.  Also in the Spring of 2004 two students, Jill Buteyn and Carissa Uittenbosch, (as part of their Zoology project) tentatively identified the three tapeworms I had preserved from the necroscopy of the cat that was killed. The identification needs to be confirmed with the help of a parasitology lab at Lincoln NE.

Buteyn, J. and Uittenbosch, C. 2004.  Identification of Mountain Lion Tapeworm.  Project for Zoology class in Spring of 2004 [report available from files of James Mahaffy at the Dordt College Biology Department]

Pollema, T. 2004. Tracking the movement and territory of dispersing male mountain lions, Felis concolor, in Northwest Iowa using camera traps and visual reports. A biology individual studies (Bio 393) done in the Spring 2004 at Dordt College. [Report available from the files of James Mahaffy at the Dordt College Biology Department]

Pollema, T. and Mahaffy, J. 2004. Report 30 of mountain lion reports. [report available from files of James Mahaffy at the Dordt College Biology Department]

Helping uncover an  ichthyodectid fish found in the Greenhorn Formation of Cretaceous age in the hills near the town of Westfield, Iowa.  Since there are few vertebrates found in the Iowa exposure of the Cretaceous, this is a significant find.

Description with Stan Oordt (the finder) of parts of a musk ox skull and some other Pleistocene bones from a local quarry. Several of the fossil bones from this quarry have been identified with the help of some paleontologists at the University of Nebraska. After determining the Pleistocene stratigraphy (most likely from the last glaciation, late Wisconsian, but possibly earlier), we should be ready to write up this manuscript.

Report of a Pliosaurid tooth from the Cretaceous (Greenhorn Fm.) of NW Iowa. This tooth was found by one of my paleontology students, Ben Van Ee on a field trip in 1996. The tooth was identified with the help of Dr. Gordon Bell of the South Dakota School of Mines. Since few vertebrate fossils have been reported from this area, we plan to report the find as a short note in one of the paleontological journals.

Investigating the range of the Prairie rattler (Crotalus viridis) in NW Iowa.   I have been following up on reports that seem to have some substance of rattlesnakes being found in short-grass relict prairie in counties both north and south of the known locality in Plymouth near Westfield in Plymouth County, Iowa.  Since the Westfield location is the easternmost extend of the known range and the only place the snake has been proven to exist in Iowa (where it is endangered), these reports would be on interest to the state and the herpetological community of they prove to be true. A Dordt biology student, Ryan Verver, helped in the early investigation as an individual research project.  In the food plains of the Little Sioux River, I have found that there were rattlesnakes in wet meadows.  The habitat of these are more suggestive of the massasauga than the prairie rattler. Unfortunately habitat changes due to agriculture have probably resulted in this population (whichever rattler it was) being extirpated. Two manuscripts on this study are on file with the Iowa DNR or can be obtained from the author.  An offshoot of this study has uncovered historic extensions of massasauga or probable massasauga in western Iowa (Crawford and some other counties) and northeastern Iowa (Mitchell County) and adjacent Mower County in SE Minnesota (2007 ASIH) and more recently reported on evidence for rattlesnakes across southern Minnesota to the Mankato area (2009 ASIH).

 Professional Service

Major Dordt College committee assignments include Curriculum Committee from 1986-1995 and a committee on student life, Spiritual Activities Committee for many years (Chairperson for a year) and general education (core) committee. 

Maintain a number of web pages used for courses.

Initiated and currently maintain a list (acg-l) for the Affiliation of Christian Geologists on the Internet with approximately 85 subscribers worldwide. I also maintain the list (acb-l) for the affiliation of Christian Biologists.

Have given a variety of presentations to school groups (elementary through high school), college parents, and radio commentaries on Sioux Center radio station KDCR.

Professional Memberships and Subscriptions

AASP (American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists
BSA (Botanical Society of America - Paleobotany Section)
ASIH (American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists)
SSAR (Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles)
SEPM (Society of Economic Paleontologist and Mineralogists)
Sigma Xi (Inactive member)
American Scientific Affiliation 
Paleonet (the professional list for paleontologists)


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Modified on Sept. 30, 2013 (1:44 PM)