Andrew Battles from the Kolbe Lab gave a talk at JMIH presenting data on performance-habitat relationships comparing lizard performance on rough and smooth surfaces. The data were collected on Guana Island in the British Virgin Islands using Anolis cristatellus and A. stratulus as study species. Andrew and his advisor, Jason Kolbe, were interested in whether lizards perform differently on artificial and natural surfaces.
They used three different running tracks (37°-incline rough track, 90°-incline rough track, 90°-incline smooth track), assuming that artificial surfaces are smoother than natural ones. The rough tracks consisted of a board covered in window screen and the smooth track was a plain 2-by-4 board. They used a high-speed camera to measure maximum velocity, how often a lizard paused during the run and how often it slipped. While both species ran significantly slower, paused and slipped more often on the smooth surface, A. cristatellus performed even worse than A. stratulus. Andrew and Jason then conduced a field survey to test whether lizards in a human-modified habitat use both artificial and natural perches. In addition, they rated roughness of natural and artificial perches. When both types of perches were available, lizards used artificial perches more often than natural ones.
This is surprising, because artificial perches are significantly smoother than natural ones and lizards perform worse on smooth surfaces. Possible explanations are that other factors such as food availability and/ or predation may drive habitat selection on artificial substrates.