Lizard collecting on San Salvador

Graduate student Tamara Fetters, VT colleague Ignacio Moore, and I have just returned from a collecting trip to Gerace Research Centre in San Salvador, The Bahamas. The lizards we collected will allow us to begin work on the VT half of a long-term collaborative project we are working on with Bob Cox at UVA. We collected over 200 brown anoles (Anolis sagrei), which we will use to start the lab’s breeding colony in Blacksburg.

The collecting trip was a success in the end, despite several setbacks along the way. First, the hot, dry conditions and the scrubby vegetation in San Salvador made the anoles almost impossible to catch during the day. Consequently, we did almost all of our catching at night, plucking the lizards from the tips of branches where they slept.

We very nearly lost all our specimens on the way home. Despite filing all the appropriate paperwork with the Bahamian government and the US Fish & Wildlife service, we were detained by US Customs in Nassau for over two hours, causing us to miss our plane. After the customs agents were finally able to reach Miami FWS on the phone, we were finally free to go, and we had to spend an unplanned night in Miami. Thankfully, all the lizards are now safe in their new homes!

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