Herero Nama Lizard (Namazonurus pustulatus) and Jordan’s Girdled Lizard (Karusasaurus jordani) Morphology and Sexual Dimorphism
This project focuses on Namibian girdled lizards, specifically N. pustulatus and K. jordani, two species with poorly understood ecology and geographically isolated ranges. Basic morphology provides an evolutionary context within and across taxa. This research uses morphological indicators of environmental and predation pressures to inform possible evolutionary mechanisms behind morphology and dimorphism in relatively understudied taxa.
Mojave Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) Connectivity Networks and Movements
The Mojave desert tortoise is a federally listed and state protected species. Habitat fragmentation due to increased development may lead to isolation and increase extinction risk. This work compares how connected tortoises were prior to utility-scale solar development (through genetic analysis) with how connected tortoises are (through the use of radio-telemetry and GPS loggers) in habitat experiencing rapid development. Goals are to determine future conservation needs for this species and its habitat, and inform conservation efforts.
Serrated Tent (Psammobates tentorious) and Leopard Tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis) Movement Patterns
Tortoise activity is rarely captured during field surveys or by radio-telemetry alone. This project uses i-button sensors in conjunction with radio-telemetry and GPS loggers to track temperature and movement of serrated tent and leopard tortoises in Namibia. The research objectives are to define activity periods and environmental factors associated with transit events for these species.
As a response to increased development pressures on biodiversity, habitat conservation plans call for minimizing habitat loss for selected species. The focus of this project is to assess the habitat of select species and produce habitat suitability models. Suitability models will be used to determine recent habitat loss, encroachment, and fragmentation in an effort to identify low quality habitat for future development sites and high-priority conservation areas.