Greetings from SICB! Sessions are off to a roaring start here in Portland. At Monday’s poster session, Andrew Battles presented his work on the thermal ecology of urban anoles. Andrew, a Ph.D. student working with Jason Kolbe at the University of Rhode Island, presented his work in the poster session for the prestigious Huey award.
Around the world, many natural habitats are being replaced with artificial, heat-absorbing structures, such as concrete and metal. This is a really big deal for the animals that perch on these substrates, particularly ectotherms, which derive their heat from external sources. Andrew examined environmental temperatures and canopy openness at a variety of urban and natural sites in (and around) Miami, Florida. What he found was that urban perches (posts, building walls, etc) were considerably warmer and more exposed than natural perches.
He then examined body temperatures for the lizards Anolis cristatellus and A. sagrei that are commonly found in those habitats. On average, A. sagrei had higher body temperatures than A. cristatellus. Both species benefitted from warmer urban structures early in the morning, as they were able to reach temperatures in their preferred range sooner than in the cooler natural sites. In light of these results, Andrew’s next work will examine patterns of physiological divergence in urban and natural habitats. Congratulations to Andrew for being a finalist (and the sole Anolis ambassador) in this year’s Huey Award Symposium.