Saturday, July 15, 2017

Team Perserverence

Greetings from El Verde—team Anolis gundlachi rides again! I am back at the station to observe the behavior of female A. gundlachi, joined by two fabulous helpers—Jessica and Phil. Phil joins us on a quick break from the Steen Lab at Auburn University. He’s met some A. cristatellus in Miami before, but he is enjoying getting to know some of the other species of anoles Puerto Rico has to offer, as well as many frogs and a whip scorpion! Jessica is our resident Coqui frog expert, and has become quite the lizard catching champion in our short time together. She will be starting a masters in the fall at the University of Rhode Island in the Kolbe lab—hopefully she won’t be tired of anoles yet?!

My team has a serious dose of perseverance this year. We are trying to stage territorial interactions with free living female anoles, and it is proving to be tricky and trying work. Jessica, Phil and I have tromped all over the forest staging trials—kudos to my team for staying in high spirits even when our lizards evade capture! I am thrilled to report that we have 19 successful trials to date. Here’s hoping we are able to move on to collecting some data on males soon!

Phil, Jessica, and Ellee: Fresh from the forest, and only a little damp.
I hope you enjoy the picture of us. This is us, fresh from the forest having encountered a torrential down pour. But have no fear, WE CAUGHT AND SAMPLED OUR LAST LIZARD IN THE POURING RAIN!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Fence lizard cognition

Welcome to another non-anole portion of the lab! Stephanie and I are currently studying problem solving in Sceloporus consobrinus, the Eastern fence lizard. We are using a similar setup to past testing of anole behavior by others in the lab but are instead testing a lizard native to Missouri. Our biggest challenge so far hasn't been the lizards--it's the weather! Testing lizards held in outdoor enclosures has brought variables we hadn't run into before, so trial and error is the name of the game so far. We think we're (sort of) getting the hang of it! Additionally, we are starting to explore the possibility that the lizards use their tails to produce vibrations that are detectable by insects, so we now have lots more to learn about making and setting up new equipment.

The fence lizards aren't as flashy as anoles, but they have their own splashes of color, especially the males. Another possible project will be testing how much of these blue and black patches reflect UV light. We hope to find out more soon!

 Number 26 is ready for her measurements

 Blue/teal patches on the sides of a mature male

Time to weigh them!
A gravid female