Nathalie started the field season 2016 with an 8-day trip to Florida for her project on the evolution of limb development in Anolis lizards. After doing lab-based Anolis research for almost three years, it was about time to meet these fascinating lizards in the wild! Ten (!) Anolis species have been introduced to Florida from the Caribbean islands, which makes it a hotspot for convenient field work. Since Nathalie was a novice at Anolis catching, she joined Dan Warner and his research group (University of Auburn) at their Palm Coast field site. Besides getting help with her own project, she joined Dan’s team in their research on brown anoles on islands in the Matanzas River. The Warner lab has several exciting projects on phenotypic plasticity and how maternal effects can help offspring cope with particular environments. The brown anole is perfectly suited for these questions since they are incredibly abundant on the islands and several hundred individuals can be caught within a day. Bob Cox and his students (University of Virginia) also joined the rental house for the last few days so Nathalie was spoiled to be surrounded by other Anolis enthusiasts.
Her trip ended with a tour of the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in Miami, where researcher James Stroud introduced her to the quite unusual lizard communities one can find in Florida, including 5 different Anolis species (only one is native), Red-headed agama, Green iguana, Brown basilisk and several gecko species. This was a nice end to a very enjoyable first experience of wild Anolis. Now the breeding season may start!