Tuesday, September 2, 2008

These Lizards are Making Me Look Bad

Ok, I try to get up every morning and do a bit of a work out...but sure, sometimes I spend the half hour sipping coffee on the couch instead - and then I feel a little guilty. Now I've got lizards to make me feel even worse! A new study by Terry Ord, a postdoc in the Losos lab at Harvard shows that four species of Anolis lizards on Jamaica do their characteristic push-ups and dewlapping displays at dawn and/or at dusk. This is the first time that such a "silent dawn chorus" has been demonstrated - but shows similarities to birds and other acoustic animals who broadcast their presence in their territories. This strategy is thought to be more efficient at maintaining stable territories and communities by advertising a male's ability to defend its territory -without having to actually go through the hassle (and energy expense and danger) of doing so. Doing it at dawn and dusk sort of "bookends" this information - in the a.m. it establishes which territories are occupied and in the evening, it advertises, "Hey, I'm still here - no snake or bird - or biologist! - got me today. Going to bed - see you in the morning."

Ugh - these things are exercising twice a day! I promise to get up early tomorrow and do some push-ups of my own...and I'm leaving the shades up so the neighbors can make no mistake that this is my apartment.

Popular press picked this up, too.


sergios-orestis kolokotronis said...

Talking about lizards and Losos, this just came out.

Losos JB. (2008) Phylogenetic niche conservatism, phylogenetic signal and the relationship between phylogenetic relatedness and ecological similarity among species. Ecology Letters 11:995-1003.

A commentary by Wiens and a response by Losos.

Susan Perkins said...

Great point, Sergios!

Liam Revell said...

I also thought the exchange between Losos & Wiens was pretty interesting. Perhaps it will be the subject of a future blog post . . . .

Saul said...

Hey found this by visiting Miguel (Landestoy) Flickr gallery, and loved your work and the blog, keep it up!