summer 2018 updates

It’s the middle of the summer in Auburn, AL…

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This hatchling successfully hatched! It was alive.

This summer I’m running a lab experiment to test whether nest sites that urban-dwelling female crested anoles in Miami, FL use will yield higher survival than random sites.

How do we do this?
Last year I collected hourly temperature data by placing iButtons in random plots across suburban and nearby forest where crested anoles are abundant. These random plots either had eggs (nest plots) or did not (non-nest plots). When we examined these temperature more closely, we found that urban nest temperatures were warmer than those in the forests, which is not that surprising. However, within urban areas, temperatures in non-nest plot were markedly greater than nest plots and the extreme temperatures can reach 43°C and 39°C, respectively.

To test how these temperature affect developing embryos, we programmed our fancy incubators to mimic this 42-day natural cycle based on the temperature we observed in the field. We then allocate eggs to these treatments and wait to see if egg survival and hatchling phenotypes differ.

So that brings me to now…I’m waiting to see how many eggs will successfully hatch. If nest incubation treatments yield higher survival, mother lizards could really be a major reason why they are so successful, even in the Miami heat.

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Freshly laid eggs collected from our captive breeding colony
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Thanks MT for the help with processing eggs!

 

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Field Work March 2018

The Warner Lab just wrapped up the first 2018 field trip. The main objectives for this trip include collecting lizards for Jenna’s project, taking way-point averages of trees on some of Dan’s islands, introducing our new post-doc Amelie to the study system, and clearing Tim’s CB1 and CB2 islands

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Dan saw an anole running under some rocks.

I was there for 6 days this time around and was involved with everything mentioned above. Well, I was primarily taking GPS coordinates for trees.

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Dewlapping male brown anole

 

It was also a reunion in many ways! 1) My friend Joe from Gonzaga visits and comes out to the field with us. 2) Tim Mitchell also joins the Warner Lab to wrap up his Crescent Beach project!

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Lunch break…peanut butter jelly sandwich.

Anolis Symposium 2018

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Phil, Jenna, I, and Josh representing the Warner Lab at the Anolis Symposium (PC: Jessica Pita)

We just got back from hot and tropical Miami this week with heaps of lizards! Last week three current and a former graduate student attended the 2018 Anolis Symposium at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens. Hats off to the organizers, James Stroud and Anthony Geneva. Phil presented a poster on his recently published paper in Proceedings B about the benefit of early hatching. Jenna made a full debut in the lizard world with a side project testing potential effects of egg aggregation using brown anole eggs. Josh gave the final presentation summing up what we know about reproductive phenology in anoles and I gave a presentation on anole nest microenvironment differences between urban and forested sites.

After the symposium, we collected a bunch of lizards for a couple projects this summer. Stay tuned for updates! I met a lot of awesome scientists there and was very thankful to have the chance to talk to Sean Doody about eggs, Stu Nielsen about all sorts of herps, Colin Donihue about hurricanes, and many more!

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Female brown anole in suburban area
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Agama piticauda (Photo by Hannah G)
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Male brown anole flashing dewlap (PC: Hannah G)
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Very happy to retrieve an iButton buried 6 months ago!

SEPARC 2018

This past weekend I attended the 2018 Annual Southeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation meeting at Unicoi State Park, Helen, GA. I had a stimulating time going to talks, presenting, reconnecting with friends and meeting new people who are enthusiastic about herpetofauna.

The setting for this conference was great. Unicoi State Park had plenty to offer in terms of hiking, herping, and birding. Helen, the town nearby features Bavarian architecture, which reminded me of Wenatchee, Washington.

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Ribbon Snake (Thamnophis sauritus)

I was very happy to meet David McLeod (James Madison University) and his students Althea and Sarah. David use to work for many years in Thailand and humbled me by his knowledge of Thai herpetofauna! I also have John Maerz to thank for telling me more about the ICON program at UGA. This rigorous program is an exciting opportunity for anyone who wants to take an integrated approach to conservation.

Coming back from this meeting, I’m energized to learn more about what I can do to conserve herpetofauna in Thailand. Also in the Southeast…but Southeast Asia. But for now…it’s finishing up our manuscript from last summer’s project! I intend to get back to posting more frequently on this blog!

HDTH

SICB 2018

Happy New Year!

2017 was an amazing year filled with new experiences and friendships. None of it would have been possible without the support of my family and the Warner Lab.

2018 started out fresh with the the Warner Lab taking the 2018 Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology meeting in San Francisco. I gave my first talk about my study on anole nest sites in urban areas. I also attended many great talks and got to catch up with my previous professors from Gonzaga!

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Salamanders at Big Cypress Tree State Park, TN

Since our university was on Thanksgiving Break (3rd week of November). I had the honour of visiting Josh Hall’s family in West Tennessee. Josh and I collaborate on a series of projects to study how invasive lizards might be adapted to urban adaptation so we’ve gone down to Miami, FL together a couple times. While we share many common interests and values, one stark difference between us is our views on big cities. I really like big cities because I grew up in one. However, Josh doesn’t share that affinity for busy streets and skyscrapers.

My trip to Josh’s hometown of Milan (pronounce “Mai-Lan” unlike the Italian city) gave me a better idea of our difference! On Thanksgiving Day, Josh showed me the whole town in 20 minutes! Then we came home to celebrate Thanksgiving with the entire family. We had plenty of delicious food and dessert while sharing all sorts of stories.

The day after Thanksgiving we went to Big Cypress Tree State Park. The park was named so because there use to be a Big Cypress tree but it unfortunately burnt down years ago. However, there is still lots of cypress tree and the swamp is great salamander habitat! Joined by Jordan (Josh’s friend) and Hazel (picture below), we went for a stomp in the woods on a cool sunny morning. According to Josh, time seems to slow down in the swamp as you’re surrounded by the serene background of cypress trees.

Without too much effort, we found three species of salamanders, the Mole salamander (Ambystoma talpoideum), a small-mouth salamander (Ambystoma texanum), and the spotted salamander (Ambystoma opacum).

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Hazel with a small-mouth salamander
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A marbled salamander next to mole salamander

We then spent a couple hours enjoying the morning before heading home!

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wonderful cypress grove

ALAPARC Conference 2017

This past weekend, my advisor – Dan Warner – and I attended the 2017 Alabama Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation meeting at The Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center. While our lab’s research interest is not focused on conservation of reptiles and amphibians in the state of Alabama, we were there to share our work on evolution and ecology of invasive anoles in Florida. I presented a poster about how anole embryos are robust to urban incubation environments and Dan gave a talk about our labs work to investigate how natural selection varies across space and time.

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We learned a lot other important conservation projects that institutions in Alabama (and 1 from Mississippi) are actively involved such as the Indigo snake reintroduction program, the status of Flattened musk turtle (only endemic turtle in the state), and much more.

After the presentations in the morning we all went on a herping excursion in Conecuh National Forest. Led by the likes of Jimmy Stiles, Jim Godwin (AL Natural Heritage Program), and Craig Guyer (Emeritus Professor of Auburn University) and with a little luck we spotted 16 species of amphibians and reptiles in one afternoon. The highlight of the day included a Gopher tortoise, a Diamond-back rattle snake, few water dog juveniles, and an eastern glass lizard. _MG_5281.jpg

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An overall solid weekend of herping and networking with some awesome herpetologist in the region!