The Lizards of Los Angeles

This project focuses on the ecology and evolution of lizards in the greater LA area (including the Inland Empire). We are documenting changes in behavior, physiology, and morphology in various species across urbanization gradients. We are also determining mechanisms behind these phenotypic changes. We use these data to determine what makes some species better able to handle urbanization than others. As part of this research, we are studying several nonnative urban exploiters to determine whether an urban invasion syndrome exists. This work also includes investigations into the effects  nonnative lizards have on native species to determine whether these introduced species disrupt native ecosystems. We use meta-analyses and community science (citizen science) efforts to assess patterns across large spatial scales.

My main collaborators in this project have been Greg Pauly at NHMLA, Dan Blumstein and Michelle Rensel at UCLA, and Susannah French at Utah State University


The Battle Between Snakes 

and Squirrels

The rattlesnake-California ground squirrel relationship is a classic predator-prey system that I have used to test several outstanding questions regarding predator-directed signaling, the ontogeny of antipredator behavior, and the indirect effects of predators on prey. Rattlesnakes are a logistically easy predator to work with allowing us to determine how prey respond to realistic predator encounters, and how predators respond to prey behavioral defenses. In addition, squirrels have evolved physiological defenses that interest me in terms of their evolution, function, individual variation, and associated functional constraints.

My main collaborators in this project have been Rulon Clark at SDSU, Richard Coss at UC Davis, and Jennifer Smith at Mills College


The Secret Lives of Rattlesnakes

Rattlesnakes are top predators in many North American ecosystems and are of interest to the general public because they are a nuisance animal and a medically-important animal. I have spent a great portion of my academic career studying the behaviors and ecology of rattlesnakes in order to advance knowledge on these important creatures and to help conserve them and their habitats. Through this work, I have made discoveries on social behaviors and cognitive abilities previously thought absent in such animals.

My main collaborators in this project have been Rulon Clark at SDSU and Emily Taylor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo