Monday, July 30, 2012

Versatile Gizmo

We are very pleased with of our portable laboratory. Below is a series of pictures showing the different places where we have set-up our dewlap holders during this trip. We have had a lot of fun moving from site to site, and I am very proud of the fact that I have designed such a versatile gizmo. Best of all, our species sample size continues to increase with each trip. In the past few weeks we have added three new species to the "color space," which gets us so much closer to our goal of having at least 22 species in our study.
El Verde Field Station, Puerto Rico

Frederiksted Hotel, St. Croix

Parador Boquemar, Boqueron, Puerto Rico

Friday, July 27, 2012

"Gelb Effect" II

Last summer I posted a picture of Anolis lineatopus that illustrated why accounting for transmission is critical when addressing questions related to signal detectability. Considering transmission is particularly important in the case of signals, such as the dewlap, for which transmission contributes greatly to the "perceived" brightness of the signal and the sudden increase in brightness, which is known as the "Gelb Effect". The dewlap of Anolis acutus is also a great example of the "Gelb Effect" as illustrated by the picture below. In A. acutus, the effect is even more dramatic because the white region of the dewlap is at least twice as transmissive as the yellow/orange portion of the dewlap.

Nosy Goat

I have previously posted on the many problems we occasionally face while collecting field data, from poison-wood to swarms of sand-flies.  However, this is the first time that we had a close encounter with a goat. Yes, a G-O-A-T! As seen in the photo below, Elise engaged in hand-to-head combat with a goat that wanted to take a bite out of the spectroradiometer and fiber. After a few tense seconds, Elise was able to keep the animal under control and collect the data.
"Elise vs Goat"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Back to Puerto Rico!

Tomorrow we travel from the island of St. Croix to the El Yunque forest of Puerto Rico. That means so long (for now at least) to Anolis acutus, but an eager return to some other species, including A. evermanni.

As someone who’s seen the dedication & care with which Maria (AKA ‘mama Maria’) tends to the Leal lab lizards at home, I’m excited to report that she will soon receive more evermanni individuals. Once we’re in Puerto Rico again, we hope to collect some to send to her! Among the experimental possibilities, these lizards are likely subjects of future (lab-based) tests of pattern discrimination abilities & color detection. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Dissertation Must Be Brewing

Hola from St. Croix. Today we were out collecting habitat spectral data for Anolis acutus. Acutus has a beautiful dewlap, nice body color, and elegant body shape. Such a combination of traits would give bragging rights to any lizard. However, their social structure has my head spinning. As pointed out in a series of papers by Ruibal and Philobosian in the early 1970's, you can easily find multiple males in close proximity -- it is common to see a tree with 5 to 8 males -- and to observe relatively little, if any, fighting. It's quite surprising to see males walking by each other and not witnessing any signs of aggression! Clearly, these guys have not read the chapter on territoriality by J. Stamps!!!! It seems that the time is ripe to revisit some of the ideas proposed by Rubial and Philibosian about A. acutus's relatively "strange" social behavior with a fresh pair of eyes.
"another day at the tree"

Monday, July 23, 2012

Island Jumping

Today we are leaving for St. Croix in search of Anolis acutus, the only species of anole that occurs on the island. Leo and I predicted that dewlap spectral properties should represent an "optimum" phenotype for maximum detectability in the case of "single-species" islands. By tomorrow we should know how wrong we were ... AGAIN!
Elise está muy triste!!!!!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

La Pequeña Saltamonte

Yesterday, we visited the mogote region of northern Puerto Rico, and Elise (a.k.a., La Pequeña Saltamonte) saw her first giant anole, Anolis cuvieri. As is the case for many "Pequeña Saltamontes," she is becoming more and more hypnotized by the mystery of anoles. I am willing to go out on a limb and let all her friends know now that scorpions are a thing of the past. Once you hold a giant anole in your hands, there is no turning back.

"so long scorpions"

She is also becoming quite skilled at using the spectroradiometer and has moved from collecting radiance measurements inside the forest to collecting data on dewlap spectral properties. This is a major step and little does she know that now is when the fun is about to begin. At the current pace, she should be an expert before our trip is over.

"please stop moving!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Back at El Verde

We've returned to El Verde, and it's great to be back. The main purpose of this trip is to collect a "few" more data points to overcome "Fleishman's Rule." If everything goes well, we will be able to wrap up part of the story of dewlap diversity at the community level. For this trip, Elise and Emilia have joined the team.
Yesterday, Elise got a crash course in spectroradiometer use, straight from the guru (no need to say the name). As expected, she passed with flying colors and is now ready to begin collecting real data. Those little machines are useless at discriminating between useful measurements and a dark current. Well, I should said, to potentially collect real data, because the fun is just about to begin -- overheating equipment, saturation, irregular file numbers, moisture, just to mention a few. Of course, she is not aware of those pitfalls yet. Please stay tuned, more posts to come. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Greetings from (sunny) Florida

I spent yesterday traveling along the Gold and Treasure Coasts of Florida in search of curly-tailed lizards (Leiocephalus), which were introduced to the area in the 1940s (and multiple times after that). Success! They seem to be fairly common, so it didn't really require much actual "searching." At least some things in life are easy . . .