I just got back from some fun summer of fieldwork and scientific conferences. Things started off at Abaco Island in May, where Amber Wright invited me to help out catching lizards. She and her collaborators were just finishing off an experiment looking at the effects of seaweed on foodweb dynamics between plants, spiders, and lizards on small islands in the Bahamas. We spent the first few days spraying lizards with paint to census the population sizes on several different islands. Since it was the end of the experiment, we spent the last 10 days catching brown anoles on each of the experimental islands, and preserving the lizards and their parasites for future research. It was a lot of fun to cruise around in a boat in such a scenic area and get to see the small islands which have inspired a lot of classic work on anole experimental ecology. We were so efficient, we even ended up with a little extra time to see some sites, and spend time at the beach and a blue hole!
Straight from the Bahama’s, Amber, Bob and I flew out to Southern Nevada to meet up with our collaborator Greg Pauly for a couple weeks of historical resurveys of the Mojave Desert. Over the past three years, we have begun resurveying lizard communities at sites that Eric Pianka initially surveyed for his seminal work in the early 1960’s. There are a total of 12 sites spread throughout CA, NV, AZ, UT, and ID; this summer we completed resurveys at 4 of them, plus an additional site surveyed by Benjamin Banta around the same time. Our goal is to see how changes in climate and development that have occurred over the past several decades have impacted the diversity of lizards at each site, and their population sizes. Included in our trip was our annual weekend looking for Gila Monsters in the Kingston Mountains of California (where they are very rarely seen).
Finally, Bob and I just got back from a trip to southern Mexico. We spent a couple weeks collecting whiptail lizards with our collaborator Adrián Nieto Montes de Oca in Puebla, Veracruz, Tabasco, and Chiapas. This work was in support of a project aimed at identifying species boundaries among Mexican whiptails, which has traditionally proven difficult due to extensive hybridization among species. I talked briefly about the labwork side of this project in a previous post. We had some minor complications with road blockades due to teachers protesting some new regulations, but it was great to get out and catch some whiptails together and fill in some sampling gaps. We got to see a huge variety of habitats across these areas, and a good chunk of whiptail species diversity. As an added bonus, I even got to see my first Xenosaur and my first Mexican horned lizard!