Thermal physiological differences in Aegean wall lizard color morphs
Understanding how biological variation is maintained in nature is a fundamental goal in biology and crucial to society as we face rapid global climate change. Climate change is causing hot, dry desert regions to expand, and we have a limited understanding of how genetic and phenotypic diversity will be affected by this environmental change. I am using a color polymorphic lizard from the Aegean islands as a system for studying how phenotypic diversity is maintained across a north-south temperature gradient. My research objective is to experimentally determine if lizard color morphs (orange, yellow, and white) prefer different basking temperatures and have different maximum heat tolerances, and if color morph diversity is associated with islands that have more diverse microhabitat temperatures. This research will enhance our understanding of how phenotypic diversity in thermally-sensitive species, like reptiles, might interact with and be affected by climate change.