The Mojave Desert is a great place to study reptiles. Besides being a biological hotspot of lizard diversity, it is also a beautiful place to work.
Anthony, Bob, Amber Wright, and I just got back from an 11-day field expedition in the Mojave, where we met up with Greg Pauly to collect data for a number of different projects.
Some of the lizard species we are working with in the Mojave include the following:
One of our projects is a 50-year resurvey of lizard communities in sites studied in the 1960’s:
We are also collecting tissue samples and geographic data for all lizards in the Mojave to support two other projects. First, we are carrying out a comparative landscape genomics study to investigate if genetic connectivity is a property of the landscape itself, or if genetic connectivity is species-specific and can be explained by their traits. Second, we are bringing the fields of landscape genomics and community ecology together in a novel way to understand how habitat and competition jointly influence the assembly of ecological communities.
We also encountered several snakes in the desert, including Masticophis and Lampropeltis.
And, of course, what trip to California would be complete without burritos!
Coleonyx variegatus looks like the one we saw in our yard in Santa Barbara the other day! I love the smile on Sauromalus ater! I will take more time to explore more of the website soon.
Do you know that the western fence lizard’s third eye “GPS” system has a parietal eye that tells the lizard where it is and how to get home?
Loved reading about your trip and seeing the photos. Cool creatures!