This past weekend I had the opportunity to measure Sceloporus species at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology with my old lab mate, Gabe.We are interested in looking at interspecific patterns of morphology in this group, building upon some of our previous work. So, we spent the weekend scouring the collection and measuring a suite of morphological traits on as many species as the museum had.
It was fun to go through the collection and see some of the species in more detail. Our work on scale count evolution highlighted the variation in this trait among species, and you could really see this variation among the species in the collection. From many, small scaled species to those with few, huge, spiny scales.
The other thing that I thought was pretty amazing was the preservation of the color pattern of the males. Among species, there is variation in the coloration of the belly. Some species have males with blue bellies and females with white, other species have both males and females with blue bellies or with white bellies. However, what I wasn’t aware of was the variation in the color patterning along the belly, as well as the variation in the color itself. Some had deep blue bellies outlined in black, some had patches or stripes, some were more purple, some more white. There really was a substantial amount of variation in this trait, more so than I thought. There is also coloration on the dorsal side of some species, with a greenish/bluish tint.
We compiled a pretty good dataset and are starting to sort through it now. It was fun to go through the collections and see the variation among the species. I am continually amazed at the wealth of potential information sitting in museum collections, waiting for some one to measure them.