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The Researcher who studies Anolis lizards

Research in my lab at the University of South Dakota broadly focuses on comparative biomechanics and the muscle physiology underlying animal movement and performance. In particular we are interested in answering ecologically and evolutionarily relevant questions using comparative methods. Over the last few years, in collaboration with researchers at Brown University, Harvard University, and the University of South Dakota, I have been working with Anolis lizards. This research focuses on comparing whole-organism performance (e.g., sprint speed and bite force) and their underlying muscle physiology among Caribbean and mainland lineages to help explain differences in their patterns of adaptive radiation.

As part of this work, I have just recently completed my second trip to La Selva Research Station working on the anoles that live there. La Selva has long been a center for research conducted on these lizards in Central America, offering an exceptional opportunity to not only capitalize on the expertise of numerous researchers who have worked with them there already, but also to hopefully help add to the growing body of knowledge of these animals there. In the process, by illuminating the functional basis for some of the differences and similarities between mainland and Caribbean radiations of Anolis lizards, this work may provide a basis for an increased focus on mainland lineages, which have arguably been less well studied than their Caribbean congeners (depending on the taxonomic hypothesis to which you subscribe).

While La Selva itself has been an apt location for conducting this work on the basis of the specific taxonomic group and research question of interest, working at La Selva and with OTS in Costa Rica has been a particularly positive experience as well. Over the years, I have been fortunate to conduct field work at field stations all over the world, and La Selva is easily among the best in how it is run and managed. The staff and management are all extremely kind, friendly and knowledgeable, and have been exceptionally helpful, not only during both of our trips, but in the lead up to them and after their conclusions. Further, the streamlined process of working with OTS in Costa Rica to organize our research permissions has been positive and refreshing. Together, this has made working in a country I had not previously done work in much more straight forward. These factors, combined with the exceptional habitat and diversity at the station, as well as the excellent facilities and infrastructure, have made me definitely hope to continue working at La Selva in the future, and cemented that I certainly would have no reservations about sending students to conduct work there on their own.

Christopher V. Anderson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
University of South Dakota

Last Updated ( 02/01/18 )
Organization for Tropical Studies
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