Research

anolis sagrei

Anolis sagrei in North Miami, FL, USA. Copyright Ambika Kamath.

Anolis sagrei: the social lives of brown anole lizards.

Explained in detail here.

Anolis sagrei: effects of perch density and distribution on lizard territory distributions, social structure, and mating system. 

This project is motivated by long-standing theory on the relationship between resource distributions and mating systems, and is relevant to the question of how anthropogenic habitat modification can affect the behaviour and reproduction of lizards able to persist in modified environments.

Sitana ponticeriana: dewlap morphology and display behaviour.

Fan-throated lizards, from the Sitana ponticeriana (Agamidae) species complex, are found across South Asia. The complex comprises three dewlap variants (likely different species) that differ incrementally in size and coloration. I have been observing the display behaviour of the three variants to understand the relationship between behavioural and morphological complexity in visual displays. I measured male and female morphology as well as habitat characteristics to test two hypotheses (changes in sexual selection and changes in the visual environment) for how these three variants have evolved.

Here is a summary of what I have found so far.

The three dewlap variants of Sitana ponticeriana. Photographs by Shrikant Ranade, Jahnavi Pai, and Jitendra Katre respectively.

The three dewlap variants of Sitana ponticeriana. Photographs by Shrikant Ranade, Jahnavi Pai, and Jitendra Katre respectively.

Sitana ponticeriana: density variation in disturbed habitats

cows in disturbed site

Cows in a grazing site also inhabited by fan-throated lizards. Copyright Ambika Kamath.

Fan-throated lizards are incredibly adept at persisting in disturbed habitats, including fallow fields, grazing land, and deforested waste land. Even in these seemingly depauperate environments, however, lizard densities can vary between two apparently identical locations. I mapped the local density of lizards and the presence of vegetation, perches, dung, and insects along transects in a grazing land site, hoping to understand whether lizard densities can be driven by resource availability in a bottom-up fashion. I was based at the Centre for Desert and Ocean in Virani, Kutch, India, while doing this research.

Hylarana aurantiaca: relationships between habitat, calling behaviour, and phenotype.

golden frogs (hylarana aurantiaca)

Western Ghats golden frogs in Agumbe, Karnataka, India.

In collaboration with Sreekar Rachakonda, I investigated the relationships between microhabitat, colour, and calling rates in two spatially distinct breeding populations of the Western Ghats golden frog, a common but poorly studied species. This research was carried out at the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station, Karnataka, India.

Anolis carolinensis: the effects of Anolis sagrei on behavioural partitioning

IMG_3058

Feeding Anolis carolinensis in Mosquito Lagoon, FL, USA.

In collaboration with Yoel Stuart, I investigated whether North American green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) feed and display in different parts of their habitat, and moreover, whether such behavioural partitioning is affected by changes in habitat due to the presence of a congeneric competitor, Anolis sagrei. We worked in small dredge-spoil islands–some colonized by only A. carolinensis and others inhabited by both A. carolinensis and A. sagrei–in Mosquito Lagoon, near Cape Canaveral, Florida. We found that A. carolinensis feed at low heights but display from high perches, compared to their initial locations. Further, though A. carolinensis shift to higher perches in the presence of A. sagrei, the relative positions of feeding and displaying perches do not change.

Here is a nice summary of our findings.

One thought on “Research

  1. Pingback: How the Organization for Tropical Studies has shaped me as a biologist | Ambika Kamath

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