Alternative Reproductive Tactics and Speciation in the Mesquite Lizard - Sinervo Lab

Beth (and a local helper) take data on a lizard near Amealco, Hidalgo, in central Mexico

lizard bellies

Males from San Antonio de las Alazanas (left) exhibit yellow, orange, or white throats; males from Cerro Pena Nevada (right) exhibit yellow, orange, or blue throats.

Beth Bastiaans, a graduate student in Professor Barry Sinervo's lab, is studying alternative reproductive tactics and their relationship to speciation. Specifically, she focuses on the mesquite lizard (Sceloporus grammicus) species complex, a Mexican lizard whose evolutionary relationships are not yet fully understood. The lizards exhibit discrete throat color morphs both within populations, as well as between populations in which color morphs are present (left).

Dr. Sinervo's research has shown that similar throat color morphs in the Californian side-blotched lizard (Uta stansburiana) correspond to alternative behavioral strategies. Beth is working to determine whether this is also true in the mesquite lizard, as well as whether the color differences between populations lead to reproductive isolation.

Beth and Dr. Sinervo collaborate with several universities and research institutions in Mexico, including the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and the Universidad Juarez del Estado de Durango. Beth has received a Fulbright fellowship as well as an NSF DDIG to fund this work.

gen morinaga

Gen Morinaga, B.S. 2010, working as Beth's field assistant.

Her research has provided numerous opportunities for undergraduates to participate, including Gen Morinaga (right) who has worked as Beth's field assistant for two consecutive summers and also completed a senior thesis in the Sinervo lab. Gen compared stamina between populations of the mesquite lizard species complex.