Term of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Biology

Committee Chair

Lance D. McBrayer

Committee Member 1

John Scott Harrison

Committee Member 2

Denson Kelly McLain


In my 1st chapter I investigate the phenotypic variation of the Florida scrub lizard by examining sprinting and jumping ability. These are key performance measures that have been widely studied in vertebrates. The vast majority of these studies, however, use methodologies that lack ecological context by failing to consider the complex habitats many animals live in. Here, I filmed running lizards to address how behavioral and performance strategies change as lizards approach obstacles of varying height. Obstacle size had a significant influence on both behavior (e.g. obstacle crossing strategy, intermittent locomotion) and performance (e.g. sprint speed, jump distance). Researchers should thus consider the complexity of a species' habitat in designing studies of locomotion. In the 2nd chapter I examine the genotypic variation of S. woodi in the Ocala National Forest. The loss of natural habitat due to fragmentation is a major threat to the conservation of species. The Florida scrub lizard (Sceloporus woodi) is restricted to open, sunny, scrub habitat, historically maintained through frequent wildfires. The ONF is fragmented from clearcut logging, fire suppression, and by major roadways. I examined five microsatellite loci to estimate genetic differentiation across the forest and near a major roadway (Florida State Route 40). The results suggest that there is a considerable amount of isolation among S. woodi populations in the ONF. Decades of fire suppression have resulted in overgrown forest that hinders lizard dispersal and separates populations by expanses of unsuitable habitat. Though SR-40 may act as a barrier for wildlife, my findings do not denote any added genetic differentiation caused by the road.

Research Data and Supplementary Material