Matthew McElroy

Thermal Ecology and Physiology of two Cryptic Skinks, Emoia cyanura and E. impar, on Mo'orea, French Polynesia

I am interested in the thermal ecology of two tropical skinks, Emoia cyanura and E. impar, in Tahiti, French Polynesia. Since these skinks are so similar in morphology and ecology, they likely compete for essential resources, including sources of heat. So far, through field observations and lab experiments, I have found that E. cyanura prefers open canopy habitats and warmer body temperature relative to E. impar. To expand my study, I will test sprint speed of each species at different body temperatures to see if they are thermal “generalists” or “specialists”. My investigation into thermal niche partitioning of these two lizards provides an important test case for how tropical lizards might change their behavior and habitat usage during climate change in the near future.

Message to Sponsor

Growing up, I was always fascinated by snakes and lizards, so returning to Tahiti to study them is only a bonus. I am very excited to get back to the forest to answer questions and tackle new challenges. Fieldwork is what makes the biologist 'tick', yet it can be the most frustrating and fulfilling thing in the world. It is funny that as a soon to be graduate, I am doing the same stuff (albeit on a slightly more advanced level) that I loved to do as a kid.
  • Major: Integrative Biology
  • Mentor: Craig Moritz, Integrative Biology, MVZ