A PhD student from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Mike Logan, will be on the Island School campus until May 31st collecting data for his research on thermal adaptation in lizards. Mike’s PhD focuses on the response to climate change in lizards, and in the Bahamas he is conducting transplant experiments to examine how traits like the thermal sensitivity of running speed might evolve in response to environmental warming. This May, Mike is capturing roughly 100 individual Anolis sagrei (Bahamian brown anoles) from a shady habitat on the interior of the island, measuring their running speeds as a function of body temperature in the lab, and then releasing them onto a sun-baked peninsula. Each lizard will be individually marked, so that when Mike returns in late August he can recapture all the survivors from the sunny habitat and figure out which lizards were “selected for.”
His hypothesis is that the lizards with the highest thermal tolerance (highest ‘optimal temperature for running’) will be the survivors. If so, he will have documented natural selection on lizard thermal physiology in nature, a first for science. Eventually, Mike plans on integrating this selection data with information on the heritability of the traits he measured in order to make quantitative predictions about the rate of evolution that can be expected in response to climate change. Mike also conducts research in the Bay Islands of Honduras, where he is investigating questions about the response of entire lizard communities to climate change.