Use of voluntary maximum temperatures for linking thermal physiology and species geographic range size

     In this international project funded by the FAPESP, I collaborated with Drs. Mike Angilleta, Ofir Levy, John Vander Brooks, Rory Telemeco, John Wiens, Dale deNardo and an amazing team of students to develop a robust method for estimating the voluntary maximum temperature of different lizard species, understanding the consequences of being exposed to it, and showing how important it is for detecting vulnerability to climate warming in lizards.


Blue colors indicate places where temperatures will overcome the voluntary thermal maximum of Tree lizards, causing damage to local populations of this species in North America.

Left, measuring the voluntary thermal maximum of tree lizards (Urosaurus ornatus). Rigth, tree lizard panting while being subjected to its voluntary thermal maximum.

Ecogeographical consequences of the evolution of the snake-like morphotype in squamates

     In this international project I relate the evolution of snake like phenotypes with changes at the species level (geographic range and habitats). This project funded by the FAPESP was conducted in collaboration with Drs. Miguel Rodrigues and Tiana Kohlsdorf in Brazil, and Mike Lee, Brett Goodman, Adam Skinner and Mark Hutchison  in Australia, and John Wiens in U.S.


Smaller distribution ranges of snake-like lizards compared to four-legged relatives in South America and Australia.

Investigating the impact of seismic surveys on threatened sea snakes in Australia's North West Shelf. 

    In this project, developed in North Western Australia, we aimed to identify whether sound-gun vessel noise would affect the feeding behavior of sea snakes These ships emit a superpowerful  low frequency wave to detect gas and oil under the sea bottom and might have been linked to recent snk of sea-snake population in pristine Australian islands. In collaboration with Drs. Kate Sanders and Lucille Chapuis we developed and implement a field procedure to evaluate this effect. Funded by the Australia & Pacific Science Foundation


Testing a sound emitting device and underwater microphone (left) and searching for a place where to place our camera traps (above).

The evolution of fossoriality in Gymnophthalmini lizards

    This was my PHD project, where, in collaboration with Drs. Miguel Rodrigues, and Carlos Navas, I analyzed how snake-like lizards evolve. Especifically, how physiology interacts with burrowing behavior and locomotor performance,  resulting in changes in microhabitat use and population density. Funded by CAPES and FAPESP, this funny project involved intensive fieldwork in remote areas of Brazil, laboratory experiments, a great deal of statistical analyses, and even developing a videogame for studying how speed, escape strategy and morphology. affected lizard's ability to escape visually oriented predators. You can play the Lizard Chase online, click on the "More" button, in this page.


Phylogenetic relationships among gymnophthalmidae lizards showing the evolution of a snake-like morphotype.

Spatiotemporal profile of sand temperatures from (left)  low land sites and (right) a high land sites. The latter are inhabited by basal, lacertoid species of Gymnopthalmini lizards. At the hottest time of the day, burrowing only helps escaping deadly temperatures (above 43 C°) if lizards can reach below 7 cm of sand. Only the snake-like species are able to do that.

Understanding the relationships of lizards with their habitats and microhabitats

     During my Master's project, I studied how lizards' assemblage traits, like the abundance, biomass, and species richness change as a function of the dominant species and an environmental gradient from coastal open areas (called "Restingas") to higher ground forests. Collaborated with Drs. Pedro Rocha and José Vivas-Miranda.

Natural vegetation gradient at the northern littoral of Bahia, Brazil. As we come closer to the coast, both vegetation structure and the abundance and biomass of lizards assemblages changes. Changes in assemblage properties are heavily driven by the change in dominant lizard species.

Phyllopezus lutzae,  a gecko with strong preference for living on bromeliads and palms (Praia do  Forte. BA. Brazil)