Matt McElroy: Notes from the field

“Hola!” from Mt. Guilarte, Adjuntas, Puerto Rico
Panoramic view from Mt Guillarte. 
I’m up here in the central mountains of Puerto Rico rocking my Darwinners T-shirt and Seahawks beanie for the start of the Seattle Seahawks playoff run. It just started pouring rain – so work is on hold! I just returned to Puerto Rico from the SICB conference in Palm Springs, where I presented a chapter from my dissertation and whooped on Hilary Hayford, Leith Miller, and Matt George in dice. Repeatedly. Now I’m working with Prof. Paul Hertz (Barnard University), graduate students Luisa Otero (Univ. Puerto Rico) and Sophia Prado-Irwin (SF State University), as well as undergraduate students Richard Portilla (Hunter College, CUNY), Ashley Brown (Barnard), and Hannah Dale (Barnard).
Me and Paul. 
Paul Hertz worked on the thermal biology of Puerto Rican anoles for his dissertation in the 70’s and is a legit Professor of Lizard Proctology. Together with Paul, we are resurveying three species at some of his former study sites to look for changes in thermal biology due to climate change. Paul’s method uses copper models that are shaped like lizards to measure the operative body temperatures that are available for lizards. We are then able to compare the body temperatures of live lizards to the operative temperatures to test hypothesis about behavioral thermoregulation.
Luisa taking an Anolis gundlachi body temperature. 
Anolis gundlachi
I’ve worked with Paul in Puerto Rico many times over the last few years. The way he tells it - I’m stealing his dissertation. For his dissertation, Paul worked on thermal biology and adaptation of anoles along elevational gradients, however, the myriad of genomic tools that we phylogeneticists use today didn’t exist yet. My dissertation also focuses on thermal adaptation along climatic gradients, but my phylogenetic/genomic approach builds on his classic work. Its not stealing if I cite it, Paul! After I finish helping Paul and his crew I will spend two weeks collecting Anolis cristatellus, A. stratulus, and A. pulchellus along elevational and thermal gradients to test hypotheses about thermal adaptation, phylogeographic structure, and gene flow.



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