Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lizard Project Days 4 & 5: No two days are ever the same in field biology.

We are already into day 5 of The Lizard Project.  Our team is settling in to our daily routine of working in the field, but when it comes to science in the field, nothing is ever really routine.

Yesterday, was a really full day.  We left at 6:00 am to get our rental pickup truck.  This is great for us, because we can now pull a trailer with all four of our kayaks and carry all of our gear in the back, all in one trip.
Tim caught a bumble bee with a lizard noose.  No way!
We did four Skype video calls with classrooms. The first call was to Adam Taylor's class in Nashville, TN at Overton High School.  They asked lots of great questions and Mr. Taylor even ran a live webcast of our conversation!  We then talked to 3 of Mr. Will Reed's classes at Kelly High School in Chicago.  The first conversation actually took place from the water while we were paddling the kayaks out to the islands!  We had  hot sunny weather and it was a great day for the lizards. We caught 76.  Tim also became a legend among our crew when he caught a bumble-bee out of mid air with his lizard noose.  If you don't understand why that is amazing, check out this quick video of a lizard noose in action. http://bit.ly/HszCIG Now picture using that to catch a bumble bee in mid-air.


Threatening Sky
Today mother nature dealt us a completely different day to work with.  We got out to the islands around 9:00am, but it was cool and windy with storm clouds threatening.  We worked at catching lizards for 4 hours total on three different islands and only caught 6 lizards. Lizards are ectothermic or what you might know as cold-blooded. Because they are ecothermic, they can't move very fast when they are cool.  So on days when it is not sunny and hot, they spend most of their time hiding inside of trees or underneath palm fronds.  They are almost impossible to find under these conditions and we only found a few. We decided that any more time spent searching for hidden lizards was not worth it,  the sky grew more threatening and we spotted lightning. That was our cue to head for home.  We hurried to load up our gear in the boats and paddle for the dock.  We  paddled with a huge wind at our backs and loaded the kayaks onto the trailer just as the rain and hail hit.  No we are back at the field station catching up on data processing and waiting out the rain.

4 comments:

  1. Is there a color difference between male and female lizards?

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  2. Mackenzie HuffmanApril 2, 2012 at 8:28 AM

    Where do you mostly find the lizards? They are so little is it hard to find them?

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  3. Frida: Great question. Sorry I missed it until just now. There is more of a color pattern difference. Males are usually a bit speckled with a chevron pattern on their backs. Occasionally they are even a bit reddish. Females have diamonds or stripes on their backs. Both sexes vary in color from light grey to dark black or brown.

    Mackenzie: We mostly find them on trees and in bushes. Yes, sometimes it can be hard to find them, but when it is sunny out they like to be in the sun. This is when we have the best chance to find them.

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  4. After reading through the fine print as well as checking everything at the truck, you're good to go with your pick up truck rental service.

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