April 27, 2012
This last Saturday we held the second annual Lizard Hunt at Malibu Creek State Park! Dr. Greg Pauly, Museum Herpetologist, and Dr. Bobby Espinoza, CSUN Herpetologist, took a group of 25 lucky people out to observe, catch, and identify local herps.
Are you looking at me?Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentatlisHere is a list of all the herps we encountered:Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalisCommon Side-blotched Lizard, Uta stansburianaTiger Whiptail, Aspidoscelis tigrisWestern Skink, Plestiodon skiltonianusSouthern Pacific Rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus helleriGophersnake, Pituophis cateniferStriped Racer, Masticophis lateralisPacific Treefrog, Pseudacris regilla (heard calling)American Bullfrog, Rana catesbeiana (heard calling)
Dr. Greg Pauly lets an aspiring herpetologist touch a Western Fence Lizard
Dr. Bobby Espinoza shows off a striped racer, Masticophis lateralisOne of the primary goals of this field trip is to increase participation in our Lost Lizards of Los Angeles (LLOLA) project. Currently we have about 250 submissions, but for us to be able to do anything interesting with the data, we need at least 2,000 submissions. Hopefully we were able to inspire at least 25 more people to participate at this field trip. Are you inspired? One last thing for all you ultra herp-nerds—you can now get your daily herp dose by visiting the Museum's new herpetology section facebook page. Go get 'em Tiger Whiptail!
August 16, 2011
Instead of spending a cozy night in, reading Biology of Spiders (did I mention we're opening our Spider Pavilion at the end of September?), I went to Chatsworth on a gecko hunt! At 8:30pm I parked on a dark street to meet up with a bunch of other lizard geeks (or Herpers, as they much prefer to be called). Among the party was my Museum colleague, Leslie Gordon (a self-proclaimed lizard lady and manager of our live vertebrate program), and Dr. Bobby Espinoza, Cal State Northridge's professor and researcher in the Laboratory of Integrative and Comparative Herpetology.
Mediterranean House Gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus, trying to hide in a crackWe were here in deepest, darkest suburbia, looking for Mediterranean House Geckos (MHG), an introduced species of lizard from, you guessed it, the Mediterranean. As mentioned in an earlier post this is the first population of these lizards found in Los Angeles, and a boon to Bobby for his research. We were collecting the lizards so Bobby could sprint them down a racetrack! Seriously, Bobby is looking at temperature dependent performance in multiple gecko species. This will be the first batch of MHGs that Bobby has sent down the track. In total we collected 14 individuals. I wonder how they'll fare on the track?Here are some pictures from our adventure:
Herpers looking high and low
Me showing off my awesome headlamp and geckos!
Bobby and one of his students counting lizards
May 13, 2011
It has been a week of lizard happenings at NHMLA! We've had a confirmed sighting of another Western Fence Lizard in Exposition Park, we're installing underground lizard tubes in the North Campus, and over the weekend we held our first Lost Lizard Spotting field trip.Lizarding at Malibu CreekThis past Saturday morning a group of NHMLA staffers, and our good friend Dr. Bobby Espinoza, from Cal State University Northridge, led the first ever Lost Lizard field trip. Malibu Creek turned out to be the perfect location for this event and the group of kids and their families had a great time catching and identifying lizards. We found a number of species including Western Fence Lizards (Sceloporus occidentalis), Side-blotched Lizards (Uta stansburiana), and Western Whiptails (Aspidoscelis tigris). Hopefully the trip inspired all the participants to become Lost Lizard Citizen Scientists. If you're interested, find out more at the Museum's Lost Lizard site.
Western Fence Lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis
Bobby showing proper lizard handling techniqueThe Lizard UndergroundMeanwhile, in the North Campus, we are getting ready to install an Underground system. Unlike London's tube system, this system of tubes is designed for lizards and not humans. They are being installed in the Living Wall, in the hopes that when lizards move into the North Campus, they'll have lots of good spots for hiding, nesting, and escaping from predators like Raccoons.
Model lizard tubes at the San Diego ZooWhy Did the Lizard Cross Exposition Boulevard?To get to the North Campus, or at least this is what we hope will happen in the future. Last week our fearless Bug Guy, Brent Karner, was walking back from a lunch outing, and saw a lizard on the curb! As he got closer he identified the lizard as a Western Fence, Sceloporus occidentalis. This is the third lizard record for Exposition Park in the recent past, the first two occurring over a year ago at our Exposition Park Herp Survey. Stay tuned for photographic documentation as Brent sends me the picture he took with his not-so-smartphone.