Skinks and Ladders: A family-living lizard’s learning ability is not affected by their home environment

By Julia Riley

A family-living lizard’s ability to navigate through a complex maze is not linked to how they were raised

We have found that the learning ability of the Tree Skink, a lizard that lives with family, is not linked to growing up with others. These lizards were . . . → Read More: Skinks and Ladders: A family-living lizard’s learning ability is not affected by their home environment

Awesome new mini-documentary on Julia Riley’s PhD and social lizards!

Lizard Lab associate and honorary member Dr. James O’Hanlon has produced a fantastic mini-documentary about Julia Riley’s PhD work on tree skinks (Egernia striolata) and family living.

The documentary offers some great views of our Albury study site and the amazing lizards! It asks the question why are animals social, and talks about what . . . → Read More: Awesome new mini-documentary on Julia Riley’s PhD and social lizards!

PhD opportunity: social intelligence and the evolution of brain size in lizards

We are looking for a PhD student to work on an Australian Research Council grant testing for social intelligence in Egernia skinks.

Here is some background: Uncovering the evolution of intelligence is one of science’s greatest challenges. Social intelligence theory suggests that sociality selects for increasingly sophisticated cognition, but this theory is heavily biased . . . → Read More: PhD opportunity: social intelligence and the evolution of brain size in lizards

Lizard Lab launches new Behaviour and Cognition Centre!

We have acquired an amazing new indoor space in which we can study lizard and toad behaviour and cognition. We have a small room for a Morris Water Maze for studying spatial cognition (ably set up by Jodie Gruber), a much larger room with lots of shelves and CCTV where we are currently working . . . → Read More: Lizard Lab launches new Behaviour and Cognition Centre!

Dispatches from the field: the social lizard landscape (Albury, New South Wales)

Part I By Martin Whiting

This post is long-overdue! Here, we are reporting on two field trips to our new study site in Albury, in New South Wales, close to the border with Victoria. In December of last year, Martin, Dan and Geoff While (University of Tasmania) went on a field trip to establish . . . → Read More: Dispatches from the field: the social lizard landscape (Albury, New South Wales)

Dispatches from the field: South Australia tree skink reconnaissance

By Julia Riley

The Tree Skink (Egernia striolata) field crew has just returned from fieldwork in South Australia. We (Julia, James, Martin and Dan) were checking out two new field sites for potential long-term monitoring of social systems.

Our trip began by flying to Adelaide, and even though it was Good Friday Adelaide . . . → Read More: Dispatches from the field: South Australia tree skink reconnaissance

Brotherly love reduces conflict in fruit flies

Lizard Lab alumnus Pau Carazo is best known for his work on communication in lizards. Along the way he has dabbled with beetles and now, fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster). In a recent paper in Nature, Pau and his colleagues at Oxford designed a novel series of experiments to test recent theory that kin selection . . . → Read More: Brotherly love reduces conflict in fruit flies

Social cues mediate space use in a small Australian elapid snake

Snakes have traditionally been viewed as the poor cousins of lizards where social behaviour is concerned.  This is perhaps an artefact of generally being more cryptic and less tractable than lizards and therefore more difficult to study. Nevertheless, snakes are really just legless lizards and share the same chemosensory system (Jacobsen’s organ for vomerolfaction) . . . → Read More: Social cues mediate space use in a small Australian elapid snake

Dispatches from the field: touring China’s deserts in search of toad-headed agamas

I am currently in Xinjiang Province, northern China, with Dr. Qi Yin, our collaborator from the Chengdu Institute of Biology (CIB), which is part of the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS). We have funding from CAS to study the evolution of complex visual signals in toad-headed agamas (Phrynocephalus) and this is the second year . . . → Read More: Dispatches from the field: touring China’s deserts in search of toad-headed agamas

Tadpoles need friends too!

A major interest in our lab is social behaviour and why animals live in groups. Group formation has evolved numerous times independently in many different species. Understanding the proximate mechanisms and ultimate (evolutionary) factors driving group formation is a major challenge in evolutionary biology. Stephan Leu recently spent time in the Lizard Lab and . . . → Read More: Tadpoles need friends too!