Lizard Stories: From Basic Observations to Hypothesis Testing

Vitt, Laurie

Sam Noble Museum and Biology Department

University of Oklahoma

Norman, OK, USA

For decades, lizards have played a key role in development and testing of ecological theory. Reasons for this include a) relatively high local abundance, b) ease of capture, c) ease with which dietary, morphological, reproductive, behavioral, microhabitat, and temperature data can be obtained, and d) reasonably well defended phylogenetic hypotheses with which to examine the evolution of ecological traits. I present natural history stories about specific tropical lizards pointing out how some of the data collected on those species have been used to test ecological and evolutionary hypotheses. I also suggest what I believe could be lucrative avenues of research based on observations I have made during my career as a field-oriented ecologist and herpetologist.