Greek Island Experiment

A long-term experiment tracking the evolution of small-island lizards in the Greek Cyclade Islands.

During the summer of 2014, colleagues and I introduced 20 Podarcis erhardii from the large island of Naxos to five islets around Paros, in the Cyclades. This experiment mimics the natural movement of species between islands and will give new insight into the evolution of the “small-island phenotype” of this species.


We are using this experiment to test hypotheses about the interplay of plasticity and evolution in enabling species to colonize new ecological contexts.

Publications to date from the experiment:

C.M. Donihue, A. Herrel, J. Martín, J. Foufopoulos, P. Pafilis, S. Baeckens. 2020. Rapid and repeated divergence of animal chemical signals in an island introduction experiment. Journal of Animal Ecology. [PDF]

Pafilis, P., A. Herrel, G. Kapsalas, M. Vasilopoulou-Kampitsi, A-C Fabre, J. Foufopoulos, C.M. Donihue. 2019. Habitat shapes the thermoregulation of Mediterranean lizards introduced to replicate experimental islets. Journal of Thermal Biology. [PDF]

You can read recent blog posts about the work here.

P erhardii on hand.jpg

This research was supported by a National Geographic Waitt Grant and generous donations from 65 supporters in an crowdfunding campaign.

Tigani 1

Here’s an interesting video about some of the changes we observe in the species: