Above photo: Sceloporus jarrovii, Yarrow's Spiny Lizard, in the Chiricahua Mountains of southern Arizona. This male is showing off the femoral pores on its left thigh. These femoral pores secrete chemical signals used in social and territorial communication. These are the chemical signals I study.
My dissertation addresses how chemical signals and specific elements within these signals impact territorial space use, and vary with environment or signaler traits using Sceloporus lizards.
I use behavioral playbacks in the field to ask about the impact of chemical signals on space use, and the relative roles of signaler or receiver physiology and environment in shaping chemical communication. I also combine techniques from chemical ecology in the field with chemical analyses in the lab using gas-chromatography/mass-spectrometry (GCMS) to examine the behavioral and functional significance of pheromone candidates that we recently found in Sceloporus femoral gland secretions, but were previously unknown to be produced by lizards.
Finally, I borrow phylogenetic comparative methods and analytical techniques from microbiology to ask about evolutionary constraints on chemical communication. These studies focus on the diverse habitats Sceloporus lizards live in, as well as the microbial communities inhabiting lizard scent glands.