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Ectotherms are extremely sensitive to the temperature of their environments, due to their inability to physiologically regulate their body temperature. In fact, environmental conditions can affect ectotherms even before hatching, as incubation temperatures impact embryonic development in oviparous eggs. Specifically, increases in incubation temperature can significantly alter the morphology of the vertebrate face and brain. While previous studies have explored the associations between these morphological changes and learning and cognition in lizards, no study to date has focused on how these heat-induced craniofacial changes are associated with lizard social and exploratory behavior. Behavior (how an individual responds to a particular situation) and personality (consistency in an individual’s traits in different situations) represent an important aspect of ecology, as an individual’s behavioral tendencies determine its likelihood to explore, find prey, and interact successfully with both predators and conspecifics. More broadly, behavior and personality play a role in fitness and help to determine which traits will be successful in a population. In this study, we focus on the behavior—specifically the boldness and aggression—of brown anole lizard (Anolis sagrei) hatchlings incubated at normal (27°C, N = 7) and "hot" (34°C, N = 4) temperatures. Using a variety of behavioral trials including interaction with novel objects, prey type, environment, conspecifics, and predators, we seek to address the question of how warming climates may affect the personalities of Anolis lizards.


Distinction of Excellence Award for Research Design and Outstanding Research from the STEM Disciplines