What makes some groups of animals species rich, while other groups are species poor? This project will examine the diversity of spiny lizards (genus Sceloporus), a group of 100+ described species that range across North and Central America. We will quantify the phenotypic, ecological, and genetic diversity of spiny lizards to understand (1) how and when new species form (2) how closely related species coexist (3) the relationship between phenotypic diversity and genetic/species diversity (4) how changing environmental conditions may affect all of the above.
Main tasks will be morphological measurements of museum specimens, curating an ecological database, color image analysis, and data analysis. Opportunities to learn DNA extraction and sequencing available. Some tasks may also include using geographic information systems (GIS). Students are invited to help with local fieldwork if desired.
Lab or museum experience and basic programming skills are recommended but not required. Most important is an interest in the system and a willingness to learn.