Learning life lessons from lizards
First published 13 November 2012
The role of the humble lizard in ecology, evolution and engineering will be examined in a public lecture by a James Cook University expert this week.
Professor Lin Schwarzkopf will present What use is a lizard? Using small reptiles to understand how the world works in a presentation in Townsville this Thursday as part of JCU’s Faculty of Science & Engineering Public Lecture Series.
The series showcases JCU’s research to the community and is designed to inform, educate and entertain residents about current science and engineering issues.
“Small reptiles abound in the Townsville environment, but few people give them a second thought,” Professor Schwarzkopf said.
She said her presentation would discuss some ecological and conservation concepts that can be addressed using reptiles as study animals, and some other, surprising uses for lizards.
“Small reptiles are critical parts of our ecosystems as predators, prey and indicators of ecological change, and we ignore them at our peril.”
Professor Schwarzkopf said lizards were fascinating animals, which allow humans to study the response of biodiversity to human-mediated changes, like global warming and weeds.
“Also, lizards have come up with some elegant solutions to engineering problems, studying them allows us to discover how these animals solve some of the problems that face humans.”
Professor Schwarzkopf draws on 30 years experience as a herpetologist working in North America, south-eastern Australia and North Queensland.
Professor Lin Schwarzkopf has studied mammals, birds, fruit flies and frogs, since her masters degree in Canada in the Pleistocene. She has found reptiles most useful for measuring natural selection on reproductive traits, anthropogenic effects on ecosystems, factors effecting the assembly of communities and many other things. She and her group are presently examining the behavioural resilience of reptiles in the face of climate change, how reptiles respond to grazing and weeds, and how we can get rid of cane toads, among other things.
Date: Thursday 15th November 2012
Time: 5.30pm Welcome drinks & nibbles, 6pm presentation commences
Place: Sir George Kneipp Auditorium, James Cook University, Townsville
The event is free and everyone is welcome
JCU Media contact: Caroline Kaurila (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175