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  • Bree Putman

Don't be alarmed! We are not keeping venomous animals on campus!

Cover boards refer to any object that a small vertebrate animal could use for cover. Many reptiles and amphibians like to hide under objects with dark and moist microenvironments. Cover boards, made from plywood, carpet, or tin roofing material, create this favorable habitat for these species. Herpetologists systematically set out cover boards as a way to measure herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) presence and abundance in an area. You simply set out the boards, wait for some time, then lift up the boards to see what you've found!

My lab is interested in looking at the effects of urbanization on herpetofauna so we have deployed eight boards across campus to compare with what we find at more natural sites. We are interested in how the microhabitat characteristics (such as temperature and humidity) also vary under the boards and whether these attributes affect what animals we find.


Please do not move or disturb our boards! This will decrease their effectiveness at attracting animals.


Which species do you think live on campus? Stay tuned to find out!

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Part of our team collecting lizards in Claremont

The BREE Lab is pleased to welcome three new undergraduates as part of the Office of Student Research’s Summer Research Program at CSUSB. At the end of spring semester, we trained everyone on field safety, and how to catch, handle, measure, and take blood samples from lizards. They also learned important husbandry skills for taking care of the lizards in captivity (we have about 50 in our Animal House). They are currently helping Emily (my grad student) run behavioral trials in the lab, looking at how urbanization affects lizards’ responses to competitors. Starting in July, they will then assist Stephanie (my other grad student) on her research, which examines how lizards perceive and respond to the sensory cues of wildfires. In conjunction with helping to collect data for the two graduate students’ thesis research, they will also be conducting their own independent research projects. They will present their results at the end of summer in the program's research symposium. I can't wait to see what we find! Meet our team and learn about each of their project below!



Alexis Gonzalez – Alexis will be looking at whether lizards that have been disturbed by human activity have higher stress hormone levels than those that have not been disturbed. She will be conducting flight initiation distance on lizards and then taking blood samples to measure corticosterone concentrations.




Bayley Stevens – Bayley will be looking at whether urbanization affects male sexual signals. He will be measuring the size of male fence lizard belly and throat patches and comparing them between urban and rural populations.





Joey Guerrero – Joey will be looking at whether urbanization leads to asymmetry in body parts in lizards, that is, whether the left and right sides of the body are less symmetrical in urban populations, which could be due to environmental stressors.




Attempting to catch a lizard below the bridge! Putting those long fishing poles to use!

Processing a lizard back in the lab


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As a field biologist, most of my research expenses are from travel to and from field sites. This includes not only the cost of gas (which is crazy expensive right now!), but wear and tear on the vehicle. I feel strongly that students should not be responsible for these travel expenses in order to conduct research. Thus, I worked really hard to use my startup funds to purchase a dedicated field vehicle.


We now have a brand new, hybrid F150 truck for BREE Lab Research! I can't wait to test it out this spring and summer. My two grad students will definitely make use of it for their work, which involves backcountry travel in the San Bernardino Mountains to collect lizards from recently burned areas and long trips to San Pedro to collect invasive Italian Wall Lizards. Let the road trips begin!




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