Town and Country Lizards: Physiological Ecology of Side-Blotched Lizards across a Variable Landscape (pp. 29-50)
Authors: (Geoffrey D. Smith, Leilani D. Lucas and Susannah S. French, Utah State University, UT, USA)
Abstract: Natural environments are undergoing unprecedented amounts of change due to various anthropogenic factors such as agriculture, urbanization, and climate change. As a result, all species, including reptiles, are increasingly faced with novel and unpredictable environments that they have not necessarily evolved to inhabit. Thus, it is critical to understand what mechanisms different species employ across variable natural and altered landscapes, and whether these altered strategies act to shape important life history processes. Lizards represent an ideal model to study landscape changes as they are territorial and can be repeatedly sampled in different environments. Further, unlike many organisms, certain lizard species inhabit anthropogenically altered (e.g., urban) and natural environments alike and thus key comparisons can be made. Our work focuses on how the side-blotched lizard (Uta stansburiana) is responding to variable environmental conditions and the resulting effects on fitness. We have found evidence for shifting life history strategies across variable landscapes, human-induced and natural alike. We have also observed a link between physiological responses critical to fitness and survival and population level changes. In this chapter we provide an overview of our different approaches to understanding how lizards respond to variable environments and how these physiological responses may influence a given population as a whole.