Off the Sand and Onto the Asphalt: Does the Urban Heat Island Influence Desert Lizards?

EPA Grant Number: FP917427
Title: Off the Sand and Onto the Asphalt: Does the Urban Heat Island Influence Desert Lizards?
Investigators: Ackley, Jeffrey W
Institution: Arizona State University - Main Campus
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: August 1, 2012 through July 31, 2015
Project Amount: $126,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Biology


What is the relative significance of the UHI and urban land use/cover for the continued viability of lizard communities? Can landscaping choices mitigate ecological costs due to warmer climates at small scales?


Visual lizard diversity surveys across varied land use and cover types in Phoenix, AZ, and the surrounding desert will be used, as well as smallscale thermal mapping of urban micro-habitats.

Expected Results:

Lower lizard diversity and potential activity likely will be found at hotter sites in summer, with higher potential lizard activity at hotter sites in winter.

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection

This study will integrate ecology, physiology, behavior and climatology to better understand the impacts of urbanization and climate change on the activity of ectotherms. Perhaps most importantly, it will suggest whether plans to use ecosystem services to mitigate the UHI will be effective. Working alongside undergraduates, local citizens and state wildlife organizations will enable the dissemination of management implications resulting from the study to relevant government institutions and policy makers (e.g., Phoenix Tree and Shade Master Plan).

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2013
  • 2014
  • Final