And they're off!

Lab Note #6
Jun 14, 2014
Hi Everyone, 

It's been a while since I've updated here, but I hope you've been following my blog (www.colindonihue.com) for some fun notes from the field. I've pictures and stories there from all of the adventures so far this summer. 

It's time to update this site because I finally have some good news... GREAT news... on this project's front: I just introduced the lizards to five experimental islets in the Cyclades!

It's been a long process of negotiations with the national and local governments to get permissions for this experiment. It was touch-and-go up until 2 days ago! But, with a few compromises, we got permission to start the experiment. In the end, it wasn't possible to get permissions to build rock walls on the experimental islets, so instead this introduction will study the evolution of the small-island phenotype of Podarcis erhardii. Let me explain that a bit more: 

The Aegean Wall lizard occurs throughout the Cyclades on islands as large as Naxos (440 square miles) to small rocky islets a few hundred feet in diameter. Lizards living on small islands tend to be larger, have broader diets, and harder bite forces than their large-island kin. These differences are extremely robust and I'm wrapping up another study this summer detailing these patterns. 

Introducing Naxian lizards (that is, large-island lizards) to these small experimental islets will allow us to, generation by generation, test how this small-island phenotype repeatedly evolves, what traits result in highest fitness for those individuals, and how quickly evolution in these contexts can proceed. Furthermore, with detailed baseline environmental data and paired islets without lizards, I will also be able to track the impact of lizard introduction on small-island ecosystem dynamics. All in all, it's a fascinating opportunity to really thoroughly understand the evolution and ecology of these cool lizards. 

I'll be posting several more times over the next few weeks filling you in on some of the background work, but please check out my website for some fun, informal updates on what all my team is up to in Greece. 

Thank you again for your support. I couldn't have done this experiment without you all! Here's a video of lizards being introduced to some of my experimental islets:

Cheers,
Colin



*This work covered by permit number 111665/1669, Greek Ministry of the Environment.
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