Science Diary: Climate Change - Reptile Survey: The Pulse of the Planet daily radio program offers free legal online mp3 downloads, exploring the world of sound in nature, culture and science, with audio adventures, world music, extraordinary sound portraits, science diaries, and nature ring-tones; an amazing sonic experience.

Airdate: May 18, 2012
Scientist: Steve Williams

Science Diary: Climate Change - Reptile Survey

Science Diary: Climate Change - Reptile Survey
Leaping lizards! Climate change researchers count reptiles in northeastern Australia.

Science Diary: Climate Change - Reptile Survey

Ambience: Night wind in rainforest canopy, frogs

SW: "It's amazing. You could be standing here and you could search for an hour and not see a thing. The sun comes out and within two minutes you start seeing lizards running around. There's probably ten of them watching us right now."

JM: Welcome to Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries, a glimpse of the world of science from the inside. We're in the highlands of northeastern Australia. As part of a study of the effects of climate change on the region, a team of researchers is surveying the reptiles found at different elevations here. They'll note a number of important details, including where the animal was found and the temperature of the ground it was lying on. Field biologist Steve Williams talks to a group of Earthwatch Volunteers.

SW: "The idea is to observe and catch as many reptiles as we can find. Spend about 10 or 15 minutes walking up and down the road slowly. And if the sun comes out, that's when you'll actually start finding things out in the open. You'll see the lizards out in the leaf litter in the sun spots. Sometimes they're on that bank and you'll see them move as you walk along.

JM: The most important things are to actually remember where you first saw them. So, the first observation is what it's sitting on, whether it's the leaves, the ground, a rock, side of a tree. If you have a look at the data sheet, there's a column called "micro." And that just stands for microhabitat. So, most often it's leaf litter, so it just gets an "L." See that grassy bank? Got a bit of sun on it. Check that out.

SW: That's a calia rubigularus. Sitting on a leaf sun baking there. OK, so, Caubara. Micro is leaf. In the sun column itself put MS, medium sun spot. And we take the temperature of what it was sitting on. 23 degrees."

JM: You can see some of the lizards the team found on our website -; check out Audio Adventures. Pulse of the Planet's Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.