The Loh Down On Science

Does living on islands change animals' personalities?

Can an island getaway turn you into a lounge lizard?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying: 

Yes!  —If you’re already a lizard.

Meet biologist William Cooper from Purdue University.  He studies how animals adapt to different environments.  He wondered:  How might island life change wildlife?   He focused on the general dispositions of lizards.  Calm and collected?  Or tense and jumpy?

To find out, he measured how close he and other researchers could get to wild lizards before they ran for their lives.  He tested 66 species in multiple countries, considering how the response differed in small and big individuals.  And he took into account approach speed.  He did the same thing for the same species living on islands off each mainland. 

And?  Across all species, the lizards on islands were more relaxed.  In fact, the farther they were from the mainland, the more chill they became.  

Good for them.  Not so good for a reality TV series inspired by Lost or Survivor.  Ah, well.

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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