Now-a-days when the term “hybrid” is brought up, one thinks of the newer line of automobiles recognized for their fuel economy. Well recently, when I think of hybrids I can’t help but connect the idea to fuel economy as well. Not in cars, however, but lizards!
I’m currently stationed in Yauco, at the southwestern side of Puerto Rico, with the intent of becoming better acquainted with the pure-bred and mitochondrial-hybrid Anolis pulchellus. I chose to set up camp for my field study in Yauco not only because my grandparents reside here and they love to nourish me with seven to eight full course meals every day but also because Yauco is located near the boundary between the two regions that consist entirely of either mitochondrial-hybrid pulchellus to the west and of pure-bred pulchellus to the east.
My grandparents allowed me to convert their backyard shed into a mini-lab under the agreement that they have permission to overfeed me.
I’m curious as to how the possession of mitochondrial DNA from another species affects the hybrids’ phenotypic traits that are strongly affiliated by a mitochondria’s “fuel economy.” Are there differences in physiological performance between mitochondrial-hybrid and pure-bred A. pulchellus? For starters, the plan is to capture enough from both groups in order to measure a phenotype, sprint speed.
Race track set! From this angle a camcorder is set to record each trial as a lizard sprints to the top towards the black bag. (And no worries - there is a screen over that window)
With A. pulchellus known to be one of the more abundant species on the island, I’m hoping to find plenty of specimens. But as any field biologist can tell you, anything can happen.