I’ve been hinting for a while about my scientific goals for this summer but now that I’m hours away from boarding a plane it’s finally time to fill everyone in about my research plans.
I’m interested in species interactions and especially how those interactions affect how ecosystems “work.” These kinds of questions often utilize a functional perspective (which I’ve elaborated on in previous posts) essentially reducing species in a food web to their “roles” in ecosystem processes. Those roles will be different depending on the processes being studied, but by reducing complexity we can gain important insight into the workings of ecosystems.
I am hypothesizing that lizards tend to have similar functional roles in similar ecosystems (see the link above for more details). In order to test this, I’m headed to Europe to look at lizards along the Mediterranean coasts of Greece, Italy, France, and Spain. The map embedded above shows different zones in Europe, each having a different suite of lizard species. I’ll be visiting three of the zones with most similar climates, surveying the different lizard species to look for similarities and differences in their functional characteristics.
What does this mean on a day to day basis? I will be camping outside of coastal parks in each of these regions and observing vegetation and animals with a particular focus on the lizards. From time to time in my surveys I will stop and watch individual lizards and take detailed data on their behavior. This is going to require lots of long hours out in the field to actually observe and document these critical behaviors.
This is my first post from my telephone so I’ll soon find out if I’m going to be able to continue like this, but I’ll do my best to keep you updated as my adventure unfolds!