Pete Zani

Unido: 17.ene.2021 Última actividad: 05.jun.2023 iNaturalist

Research background and ongoing scientific interests
I consider myself an integrative biologist interested in the intersection of ecology, evolution, physiology, and behavior. I've been conducting scientific studies (mostly on reptiles) since 1990 with graduate education focusing on comparative biology of lizards of the Neotropics (Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua) and North America (desert Southwest, Pacific Northwest). For the past two decades I've focused mostly on the integrative biology of Common Side-blotched Lizards (Uta stansburiana) as a model system. I generally spend about 100 days each year in the field advancing several lines of study with interests in the impacts of climate change on lizards especially as related to life-history evolution, activity behavior, physiological limitations, and ecological interactions.

I recently (February 2023) completed IDing all 36+k Uta from continental North America (I omitted the insular forms on purpose). The goal of this was to amass a dataset of those and to publish those data quantifying the accuracy of iNat. The paper is nearly complete and I'll post a link to my researchgate profile when it is published. If you would like a pdf when it comes out, you can send me a message.

Near-term future plans
Coming up? Back to Grand Canyon in June. I recently successfully navigated the maze of permits needed to collect lizards in Grand Canyon as a follow up to our 2021 trip. This project requires repeated visits in March and June to the Phantom Ranch area at the bottom of the canyon to study the behavior of lizards along a section of trail called "The Box". This is where Bright Angel Creek cuts through the basement rock (mostly granite) and creates a deep sheer-walled canyon that reportedly gets to 130 °F (54 °C) during the summer. Yet in March 2023 we captured three species in The Box (Sceloporus magister, Urosaurus ornatus, and Uta stansburiana) in The Box suggesting lizards are living in there, which raises several important questions: i) how are they able to survive such a hot environment, ii) are these populations likely to be extirpated as climate change continues to warm the environment, and iii) are such local extinctions likely to be top-down along the trophic pyramid (i.e. Sceloporus first) or bottom up (e.g., Uta first)?

To address these questions I led a team to backpack to Phantom Ranch over spring break in March. There we collected data on the insects, plants, and solar environment as well as creating baseline observations of the lizards that occupy The Box. If you have any observations of lizards in Grand Canyon, consider adding them to my project "Reptiles of Grand Canyon" [formerly restricted to "Lizards of Grand Canyon", but expanded because snakes are okay too I guess ;) ].

My identifying strategy
A note on my strategy for adding identifications. First, because Uta stansburiana is my main study species I try to identify every one of those posted that includes sufficiently good photos to do so. However, Uta is very variable and therefore is confused with species such as Sceloporus occidentalis and Urosaurus ornatus. Thus, one strategy I've adopted is to search for "Sceloporinae", "Phrynosomatidae", and even "Sauria" from the geographic range of "Uta" and scan through the thumbnails looking for "Uta" masquerading as something else or misidentified. Often photos are not identifiable from the thumbnail, so I will click on those observations to be sure. However, if I see something else that I can identify and that I can tell is mis-identified based on the label, I will attempt to correct those as well. If it is a non-Uta that appears correct to the genus I often leave it for the rest of the community to identify. Thus, often my goal is to sort things as far as genus and then let the community decide what it actually is beyond that. Hence, I try to maintain current identifications of the observations of Uta.

Second, I often try to identify the predators of Uta because of interest in their occurrence and spread. Thus, I regularly scan through Gambelia, Crotaphytus, and a few other genera to see what is being observed. However, I have discovered that many older observations lack two identifications from the community, so one strategy I've adopted is to scan through the thumbnails of those other species looking for observations listed as fewer than two observations. Thus, if you notice me IDing an old observation it is probably because iNat listed it as 1 or zero ID's. My philosophy is that anyone who takes the time to post to this site deserves to know to the best of our ability what that thing is, and if my knowledge and training can help advance an observation to "research grade", especially older observations, so much the better.

Third, because of the lack of sufficient identifiers in developing scientific communities such as Central and South America as well as my experience in those areas, I have taken to identifying all of the observations of certain taxa in those areas, such as Uracentron, Uranoscodon, Plica, Enyalioides, and a few others (if you've never heard of these genera you should look them up...they're awesome lizards). Some of these are among my favorite taxa and I miss my time in the neotropics (though I have no plans of returning any time soon). Thus, for some of these things the goal literally is to identify them all mostly because I can (I consider this as part of my broader service to the scientific community).

Fourth, about comments and shout outs (@petezani). In the course of identifying all 40,000+ Uta I interacted with some amazing amateur and professional naturalists. I tried to answer any questions that were posted as part of the original observation as well as make comments where appropriate. The social aspect of this was an unexpected pleasure and I encourage you to contact/tag me if you have a specific question about an animal, observation, or behavior you witnessed (either in person or as part of another's observation). That is, comments in which I am tagged as welcome. Given my three decades of herpetological experience, which has included thousands of lizards caught, hundreds of days spent in the field, and countless hours thinking about these things, I consider myself able to make ID's that others might not consider possible or even wise. I'm perfectly willing to be corrected and oftentimes change my mind on an ID after further consideration. If you feel stumped by an observation and want to know my opinion, again, feel free to tag me.

Finally, below are links to my professional research via ResearchGate and GoogleScholar. If any of my papers are of interest and you want to read a paper, by all means shoot me a message and I'll send you a pdf of the paper (assuming I have it). If you go this route be prepared for me to request your e-mail address for this exchange.

Carry on and keep up the good work.
Pete (May 2023)

petezani no está siguiendo a nadie