Elise Williams

Elise Williams

Differences in thermoregulatory behavior in anoles across urban and forested habitats


Elise Williams, Jesse B. Borden, S. Luke Flory


Dr. S. Luke Flory


College of Agricultural and Life Sciences


Climate change poses a major threat to biodiversity, jeopardizing the survival of many species. As the climate changes, average temperatures are expected to increase and extreme weather events are expected to become more common. As such, organisms must adapt to more variable conditions by evolving or behaviorally mitigating these conditions. Here, we experimentally tested differences in thermoregulatory behavior within and between two ectothermic species Anolis carolinensis and A. sagrei from two thermally different environments. Additionally, we tested if cold-avoidant behaviors were related to the ability to tolerate cold, hypothesizing that animals exhibiting more cold-avoidant behavior would be less tolerant of cold, as thermoregulatory behaviors can reduce selection for physiological adaptation. We collected A. carolinensis and A. sagrei (n=52 and n=91) from urban and forested habitats and recorded their behavioral responses while conducting cold tolerance experiments. We found significant differences in cold-mitigation behaviors between species, but not within species.A. carolinensis exhibited more cold-avoidant behavior, on average attempting six escapes and laying flat 15% of the time per cooling trial. A. sagrei on average attempted 1 escape and lay flat 30% of the time per trial. Cold avoidance was negatively related to critical thermal minimum, meaning lizards that exhibited more cold-avoidant behaviors could tolerate lower temperatures, contradicting our hypothesis. Overall, this study highlights the importance in studying thermoregulatory behavior in the face of extreme temperatures as behavior is an important component in understanding how species will cope as the climate continues to change.


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