Scouting for Field Sites

Last year, much of my work was focused on surveying lizards on and off of rock walls in Naxos. Assuming that the differences would be subtle, I spent the bulk of my time carefully characterizing two populations on opposite land-use extremes: lizards living in the Moni valley that is heavily walled for agriculture, and lizards living in the peninsula of Alyko, approximately 7 km away, without any human-built structures. The differences in morphology (that is physical characteristics) and performance (such as maximum bite force) were stark! So this year I’m setting out to survey more sites with higher variability in human land use to determine how broadly applicable these patterns are.

Finding good sites though is a bit of a trick. My goal is to come up with around 9: 3 with very low human activity, 3 with intensive human-built structures, and 3 somewhere in between.

Alright, so what have I actually been doing to make this happen? Lots of driving, walking, and map-gazing. I’ll introduce my new car in another post to keep with tradition but we’ve already clocked a lot of miles on my Fiat Panda (“panda express”?). I don’t have the sites sorted out yet – that’ll come in another few trips, but by far the best part has been reconnecting with old (species) friends:

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My first erhardii picture of the summer! (taken with the phone- sorry for the quality.) But, surprise surprise, it’s on a wall!

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These guys… not my favorite. This one is approaching 8 inches long…

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And my first Sand boa of the year. Quite simply the best snake species in the world.

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