Photo: Anole shedding, but displaying anyway

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Herps of the field 2013

Considering how much time we spent in the field, and that one of my field assistants was by natural inclination a herpetologist, we found surprisingly few herps (reptiles and amphibians) this summer.

Pacific treefrog (subspecies: Sierran treefrog)

 This guy comes in brown or green. The two morphs look very different from each other:

Brown morph

Brown morph
Photo by M. LaBarbera

"Green" morph (I think he looks more golden)

Green morph

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Featured paper: side-blotched lizards play rock-paper-scissors

B Sinervo and CM Lively. 1996. The rock-paper-scissors game and the evolution of alternative male strategies. Nature vol. 380, pp. 240-243.

(Side note: I don’t want to feature-paper too many Science or Nature papers, since those journals are so high-profile that you’re likely to hear about the work elsewhere, and part of the point of this feature is that papers in “lesser” journals can be awesome too; but this paper is classic and fun, so I’ll make an exception.)

Male side-blotched lizards come in three flavors colors: orange-throated, blue-throated, and yellow-throated. Orange males are highly aggressive and defend large territories. Blue males are less aggressive, defending smaller territories. Yellow males look like females and don’t defend territories at all. All three colors compete to mate with females and have offspring. Throat color is highly heritable: orange males have orange sons, blue males have blue sons, yellow males have yellow sons.

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