Faced with a gritty landscape of metal fences, concrete walls and asphalt pavement, city lizards in Puerto Rico rapidly and repeatedly evolved better tolerance for heat than their forest counterparts, according to new research from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of California, Los Angeles.
Studies that delve into how animals adapt in urban environments are still relatively rare. But anoles are becoming a model system for urban evolutionary research.
“Urban lizards are exposed to higher temperatures, consistent with the urban heat island effect,” said biologist Kristin Winchell, postdoctoral research associate in the Losos laboratory in Arts & Sciences. “We found that they are able to maintain their function at temperatures of about 0.82 degrees C (or 1.47 F) higher on average across all populations.” MORE
Header image: City lizards in Puerto Rico rapidly and repeatedly evolved better tolerance for heat than their forest counterparts. Credit: Kristin Winchell/Washington University.