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Student Research Projects

Water Loss vs. Habitat in Select Lizard Species of Trinidad

Student Nick Raiford
Faculty Mentor(s) Dr. Victor Townsend
Department Biology
Course BIO 375: Topics in Tropical Biology

Abstract

My project’s goals are to capture several native species of lizards in Trinidad and analyze them to determine what factors influence water loss in them. I am particularly interested in three types of lizards; the Gonatodes (several of these species are prevalent on Trinidad), Sphaerodactylus molei, and Thecadactylus rapicauda. All of these lizards are geckos, and are therefore smaller in size than many of the other tropical lizards found on these islands.
In order to conduct my field research I will be covering several transects throughout various habitats on this island. The habitats included in the desired transects will be along the beach, beach/forest fringe, and freshwater streams. These transects will then be scoured for any of the previously mentioned lizards. Each transect will have a designated length that will be determined upon arrival on the island. The transects will have certain random distances selected along them that are to be subject for search. These areas will be thoroughly searched both nocturnally and diurnally in order to obtain as many species as possible and as a means of fair and complete research. The randomness of this approach will provide an accurate way of finding the lizards as they are distributed in Trinidad.
I wish to focus on how a lizard’s habitat and time of activity (day or night) affects its ability to withhold water. Once captured, the lizards will be weighed and placed in a restraining container such as a Petri dish. The lizards will then be monitored and weighed daily to gauge water loss. After researching for previous experiments of this nature, I determined that there are documents that exist that have addressed these questions with tropical lizards, but not with the native lizards of Trinidad.

Grants

VWC 2008 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship

 

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