Wide World Science: Lizard Project!

Mar 25, 2012 By Aaron Reedy, Dan Warner and Tim Mitchell
Anonymous's picture

We are excited to present the very first "Youngzine Live!" series by Aaron Reedy. Aaron and the rest of the team are working on a National Geographic funded Lizard Project and are passionate about bringing science from the field to classrooms. Meet the 3 members of the team here.

From March 28 to April 10, they will be providing field updates from the islands of Florida, and answering questions from Youngzine readers and classrooms. Be sure to check out this page everyday, read the latest blogs and tweets, and ask any questions that come to your mind!

Aaron Reedy will be doing live sessions with interested children/classrooms on his return. If you would like to participate, please send us an email at editor@youngzine.com

Living Laboratories

Blog Posts - Season II

Day 5 & 6: Lots of Lizards!

Oct 4, 2012 By Tim Mitchell

(Reprinted Courtesy of Tim's Fertile Turtles Blog)

Anole Eating Anole!

Today we had another first for the Lizard Project.  While on island H capturing lizards, we found a green anole eating a brown anole.  While other people had previously observed this happening, we had not seen this on our islands, until today. 

As I was looking for lizards, some rustling on a nearby palm frond got my attention.  Expecting it to be a lizard to noose, I crouched down ready to capture it.  Thats when I found an adult green anole munching on a hatchling brown anole. The brown anole was still alive and struggling, but looked like the struggle was going to be futile.  This was an exciting find for us.

Oct 3, 2012 By Tim Mitchell

We found eggs!

Earlier this week I wrote a post about a nest-site choice study that Aaron and Dan had done in the lab. However, anole nests are notoriously difficult to study in the field- very little is known about anole nesting. However today, we found two anole eggs on one of our islands, which was very exciting for us.

Reptiles have varied reproductive  strategies.  Some give live birth, which is known as viviparity. Most reptiles, however, are oviparous, which means they lay eggs.  And most of these oviparous reptiles lay many eggs in a single clutch.  Anoles, however, lay a single egg at a time.  We are not certain why anoles lay only one egg, but this is a question some evolutionary biologists have studied.  One hypothesis is that the female can escape predators more easily by only carrying one egg at a time. There are many other intriguing hypotheses, however.

Whatever the reason, we were excited to find two anole nests (which consisted of one egg each!). Check it out

Previous Blog Posts - Season I


estherp's picture
estherp April 21, 2015 - 7:26am


aydenl's picture
aydenl April 14, 2015 - 11:22am

i like them

julietter's picture
julietter March 4, 2015 - 8:42am


nutsag's picture
nutsag February 20, 2015 - 8:20pm


i am crazy about em

andrewd2's picture
andrewd2 January 23, 2015 - 9:59am


fluffybirds123's picture
fluffybirds123 January 6, 2015 - 4:46pm


nishiths's picture
nishiths December 28, 2014 - 5:38pm

Lizards are cool

monicaj's picture
monicaj December 4, 2014 - 12:39pm
basimm's picture
basimm October 21, 2014 - 4:07pm

nice i love lizards theyre so cool.how long did it take to do all this work you must have worked realy hard on this love the vieos and the pictures awesome.


normanc's picture
normanc October 15, 2014 - 3:05pm

I love lizars because they are awesome

Faith-Emmanuela's picture
Faith-Emmanuela September 13, 2014 - 7:46am

aw thats cool

DKmoon's picture
DKmoon September 11, 2014 - 6:29am

Pretty coolio

El-Miracle Akpan's picture
El-Miracle Akpan September 11, 2014 - 5:46am

whoa you know a lot plus lizards are kinda interesting to me now...

kris10g's picture
kris10g August 28, 2014 - 10:18am


Aditya08's picture
Aditya08 June 17, 2014 - 4:00pm
Is that type of lizard rare?
Naia.'s picture
Naia. February 19, 2014 - 12:37pm
Awesome! Lizards are really interesting!!!!
srinidhi12's picture
srinidhi12 October 22, 2013 - 4:33am

sweet and cute

Rayan1's picture
Rayan1 September 5, 2013 - 4:46pm

i love lizzerds but
i dont now why but they
somtimes make me lagh

Rafah's picture
Rafah August 26, 2013 - 8:43pm


123456789's picture
123456789 December 7, 2012 - 11:00am


cupcakequeen's picture
cupcakequeen November 5, 2012 - 7:16pm

wow, the lizard is soooooooooooooo small!

Rap's picture
Rap April 8, 2012 - 7:49pm

What do you use to write the numbers on the lizards?

Aaron Reedy1's picture
Aaron Reedy1 April 25, 2012 - 12:32pm

We use a black sharpie permanent marker. It is one of the most useful tools in field biology!

Rap's picture
Rap April 8, 2012 - 7:47pm

Where can we learn about the results of your research? Will it be posted here?

Aaron Reedy1's picture
Aaron Reedy1 April 25, 2012 - 12:31pm

See my comments to Zoom. It will still be several months until we can share results with the world.

Aaron Reedy1's picture
Aaron Reedy1 April 25, 2012 - 12:29pm

Unfortunately, science moves at a fairly slow pace sometimes. We are working on analyzing the data now and doing all of the genetic tests on our tail samples. We hope to have something to share in about 6 months.

Zoom's picture
Zoom April 8, 2012 - 7:45pm

Are you going to go back to the islands sometime?

Aaron Reedy1's picture
Aaron Reedy1 April 25, 2012 - 12:28pm

We are working to schedule a trip for October to go back to collect babies as this year's eggs will be hatching soon.

diamond's picture
diamond April 7, 2012 - 6:26pm

Do you think you will find any other animals besides the glass lizard that may have eaten some of the anole lizards on the island? Will you look for any evidence of the lizards being eaten because that may make a difference in the number of lizards, won't it?

Aaron Reedy1's picture
Aaron Reedy1 April 25, 2012 - 12:26pm

Yes, we also found black racer's (a type of snake) and many herons and egrets (birds) that all eat lizards. You can be sure that they are eating the lizards. The evidence we look for is mostly just the general population size. We know that predators can influence the populations, but our experiment is not designed to test the strength of the effect that predators are having on the population.

Arjun's picture
Arjun April 5, 2012 - 4:31pm

This seems to be a more generalized experiment and you could use any animals.

So why did you guys choose lizards?

timsturtles's picture
timsturtles April 6, 2012 - 7:52pm
Hi Arjun, Great question! Part of the reason we chose the project, is that this experiment is generalizable, and our results may generally apply to many or most sexual animals. Lizards are abundant, short-lived, there is some evidence that they can invest differently in the sexes, and are easy enough to work with. Also, most studies researching these questions don't use vertebrates, so this experiment is more relevant to all sorts of vertebrates. Plus, Lizards are totally awesome! Tim
estherp's picture
estherp April 21, 2015 - 7:27am
Who is the person on the picture
cupcakequeen's picture
cupcakequeen November 26, 2012 - 4:40pm

hey, i think they are cute!

Aaron Reedy1's picture
Aaron Reedy1 April 4, 2012 - 3:55pm

We're crazy about 'em. What is your favorite animal?

diamond's picture
diamond April 1, 2012 - 5:20pm

Did the glass lizard evolve from the Anole lizards that you had introduced to the islands? Or if not, which lizard species did it evolve from?

How many lizards have you already caught? How many do you hope to catch and when will you know that you have finished your field data collection?

timsturtles's picture
timsturtles April 1, 2012 - 8:00pm
Hi Diamond, Great questions. The glass lizard did not evolve from the island lizards, but they do share a common ancestor. You did not evolve from your cousin, but your grandmother is you and your cousin's most recent common ancestor. Anoles and Glass lizards most recent common ancestor was around about 170 Million years ago! We just caught 135 lizards today. We got about 300 so far this trip, we think, although we didn't do an exact number. We hope to catch every lizard on every island. We mark them, and rerelease them, so when all the lizards we encounter are already marked, we probably have finished this round of data collection, Tim
JENNAH H_C's picture
JENNAH H_C June 2, 2012 - 1:30pm

glass lizard???

Zoom's picture
Zoom April 1, 2012 - 9:51am

Where did you get the lizards?

Do you name your lizards?

timsturtles's picture
timsturtles April 1, 2012 - 7:54pm
Hi Zoom, We caught the lizards from the mainland, and brought them out to the islands. We mostly caught them along landscaping in front of a grocery store, along a bike path, and at a golf course. These lizards are very common here in Florida. Tim
Vishesh's picture
Vishesh March 28, 2012 - 7:36pm

Will these experiments damage any parts of the lizard's bodies? I hope not.

Aaron Reedy1's picture
Aaron Reedy1 March 31, 2012 - 12:06pm
We do take DNA samples from the lizards by clipping of a tiny tip of their tail. However, the tails do grow back pretty quickly. We also clip certain claws (which don't grow back) to use as an identification mark. It probably does hurt a bit at first, but studies show that it has no effect on their survival and their stress levels.
Arjun's picture
Arjun March 28, 2012 - 3:58pm

Also, does the human population follow this 50/50 sex ratio? Are we also balanced?

Aaron Reedy1's picture
Aaron Reedy1 March 31, 2012 - 12:02pm
Good question. The human population is more or less 50/50. There have been times when it has become slightly skewed for certain human groups. Following some wars the sex ratio has been slightly female biased in some countries, but most of the time it remains very close to 50/50.
Arjun's picture
Arjun March 28, 2012 - 3:57pm

If your hypothesis is right, how quick would this process be, that is how many generations will it take for the male-female ratio to become equal?

For the "66% male" population, you mentioned that the males will kill each other for the population to become equal. For "66% female" -- how do you think the female population will come down?

Aaron Reedy1's picture
Aaron Reedy1 March 31, 2012 - 12:00pm
The 50/50 sex ratio may be restored as quickly as one generation. However, we are most interested in finding out if this skewed ratio will affect which individual lizards survive and reproduce. Remember the 66% is really a ratio, not a measure of the overall population. We aren't actually sure if the populations will change much, but we are really concerned with what the ratio of males to females is. Of course we will still monitor population growth, but our experimental question is more focused on the ratio.
Aaron Reedy1's picture
Aaron Reedy1 March 31, 2012 - 11:55am
We try as hard as we can to not hurt any lizards. We have caught thousands of lizards an released them back into the wild unharmed. However, very rarely a lizard may be hurt while being captured. We try our very best to avoid this. We love lizards too!
adella's picture
adella March 28, 2012 - 5:04am

do we get to go or just sk questions?

Deepa Gopal's picture
Deepa Gopal March 28, 2012 - 8:51am

Adella: We will be posting daily updates and videos from the biologists, and any questions you ask will be answered by the biologists themselves. It will be as if we are following along virtually! Keep coming back daily.

adella's picture
adella March 29, 2012 - 11:03am
Oh! Thanks for explaining to me. I was really confused. That is so cool. You should do like this more often.