"You're like an old friend, come and see me again."
Anyone? (Rancid. Soundtrack to my life right now. OK, OK, I'm being a bit melodramatic, but you get the point.)
Note: I began this post on May 21, but because of the challenges of trying to write while doing field work and traveling, I was unable to get it online until June 8.
It was 7 p.m.
I had just spent the entire day walking around in the Florida heat, looking for lizards. My efforts were largely unrewarded. I had also checked out a few new sites that I thought might be promising (they weren't - they were beautiful, though). As I was coming out of the bathroom stall of this particular park (gotta love public parks with bathrooms!), I was greeted by this little guy. Perch height: 0.59 m, distance from observer: 2 m. Habitat: errrr...
I placed him outside. Oh, the irony.
It's been ten days since my last post, and I know you're asking, "Casey, what have you been doing down there for the past ten days? Petting manatees?" I wish. "Hanging on the beach?" Not quite. "Enjoying the local cuisine and nightlife?" SIGH.
In my last post you finally got to see a bit of real field science (and I finally got to do some). And, yes, that population turned out to be large and healthy and became my first study population - WHOOHOO!!!
I had lost two and a half weeks (more than a third of my time in the field) looking for populations of green anoles in Georgia that had enough individuals for me to study, and also enough for me to be able to remove some individuals from the population without negatively affecting that population (i.e., removing all or most of the breeding adults).
But, now in Florida, it seemed that perhaps my luck was changing. Perhaps.
The goal of my project is to compare multiple populations of these surprisingly elusive lizards, so while finding this first population feels like a victory, I still need to find a few more large populations. And I need to find them quickly.
Once I established this population as my first (and got the necessary permissions from the park director), I set off in search of more green anoles.
What I have found is that green anoles in the area are doing well mostly in the places where the habitat resembles the park where my first study population lives. No big deal, right? Uh... Not only do I need multiple populations of green anoles with many individuals, I need them from areas that have distinctly different habitat structures. I am, after all, looking at the effect of habitat structure on male-male competition and sexual traits in these lizards. So, if all of the populations live in habitats with the same structure... well, I'm not testing anything.
Having exhausted the parks, roadways, and abandoned lots within an hour or so radius of the area where I am staying, I packed up my stuff and headed south, to Miami. At this point I had spent half of my allotted time in the field looking for study populations, and only had one to show for it (and didn't even have all of the work completed for that one).
What did I find in Miami?
I mentioned in the video that Miami is lizard central--check out Ariel Kahrl's posts (with AMAZING images) about the lizards she was catching in Miami a week after I shot this video!
As for my first week in Miami..?
Yup. No luck. I found great sites (as far as habitat), that would provide good contrast to the site I have found further north, but with the weather as fierce as it was, I could not get reasonable population estimates. There was no way to tell how many green anoles were in the sites I was visiting. So I headed back up to my original population to finish up the work that I needed to do there (vegetation surveys, lizard catching, ejaculate sampling - stay tuned!), and decided to come back to Miami in another week, with the hope that the weather would be more cooperative.
On a slightly lighter note, here are some beautiful sites where I searched (but didn't find) healthy populations of green anoles. When I'm not thinking about how many lizards I'm not seeing, I think about how stunningly beautiful Florida really is.