Eric and I recently returned from Forfar Field Station, where we collected from another population of brown anoles to add to our study on the genetics of sexual dimorphism. In contrast to San Salvador, an island with large males where we collected last year, Andros has relatively smaller males. Learning from our experience in San Salvador, we came equipped with brand new headlamps for night catching. However, we soon learned that the habitat on Andros, where trees are plentiful, did not lend itself to catching during the daytime. Unlike San Salvador, the lizards were very easy to spot and catch during the day, so we didn’t need the headlamps at all. (The Bahamian customs office, however, decided to impose a hefty duty on us!)
We had help from the field station’s director’s son, who could catch lizards by hand, and a local middle-school-aged boy who became very skilful with a lizard noose. One local woman helped us out immensely with her lizard-spotting skills, walking us around her yard and pointing out lizard after lizard that our anole-focused eyes had missed. Thanks to everyone who made this successful trip possible.
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!