Jerry Sun

Thermal physiological differences in Aegean wall lizard color morphs

Understanding how biological variation is maintained in nature is a fundamental goal in biology and crucial to society as we face rapid global climate change. Climate change is causing hot, dry desert regions to expand, and we have a limited understanding of how genetic and phenotypic diversity will be affected by this environmental change. I am using a color polymorphic lizard from the Aegean islands as a system for studying how phenotypic diversity is maintained across a north-south temperature gradient. My research objective is to experimentally determine if lizard color morphs (orange, yellow, and white) prefer different basking temperatures and have different maximum heat tolerances, and if color morph diversity is associated with islands that have more diverse microhabitat temperatures. This research will enhance our understanding of how phenotypic diversity in thermally-sensitive species, like reptiles, might interact with and be affected by climate change.

Message to Sponsor

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to explore my research in the field. A really critical part of studying environmental sciences, is having the ability to go into the field, and I am really thankful for having this chance to get to explore it and to really help me solidify my choice for the environmental sciences. I am so excited to conduct research that I have been working towards for an entire year.
  • Major: Environmental Science and Computer Science
  • Mentor: Ian Wang and Kinsey Brock/ Environmental Science, Policy & Management