Date of Award

Fall 12-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife Science


Biological Sciences


College of Natural & Health Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Chris Kellner

Second Committee Member

Dr. Rachael Urbanek

Third Committee Member

Dr. Joseph Stoeckel

Program Director

Dr. John Jackson

Dean of Graduate College

Dr. Mary B. Gunter


Life history traits in ectotherms are tied to environmental temperature, and many species exhibit morphological and behavioral differences in thermally different habitats. Although these differences are generally attributed to differences in thermal regimes between habitats, most prior research on this topic has been performed across latitudinal or altitudinal gradients. Consequently, I wanted to determine if differences in morphology and behavior are also present among populations of Sceloporus consobrinus that inhabit thermally different habitats at the same latitude and elevation. In this study, I chose sites that fit one of two habitat types: warmer open rocky habitat and cooler, more vegetated forested habitat. Throughout 2013 and 2014, I monitored temperature in the two habitats to verify that they differed in thermal regime. Between April –July 2013 and 2014, I captured 267 individuals and collected data on morphology, thermoregulatory behavior, microhabitat use, and predation. I filmed 98 lizards and quantified behavior to determine if lizards in different thermal environments differed in rates of thermoregulatory and non-thermoregulatory behaviors. I also monitored and compared activity throughout the year in both habitats to determine if differences existed and were associated with thermal differences between the habitats. Although the rocky habitat was warmer throughout the year, I found no difference in snout-to-vent lengths (SVL) or weights of lizards in the two habitat types. Similarly, I found little difference in rate of thermoregulatory behaviors in lizards between the two habitats, although there was a difference in the time of day lizards were active. Body temperature of active lizards was also similar between the two habitats. These results suggest that morphological differences found in previous studies for populations in vii thermally different habitats may be due to a combination of other factors associated with differences in latitude or elevation.