Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Biological Sciences


Jerry D. Johnson


The main goal of this study was to determine the thermal ecology of the small tree lizard Urosaurus ornatus in a Chihuahuan Desert landscape. The study site was located at Indio Mountains Research Station (IMRS), Hudspeth County, Texas. We obtained body temperature (Tb) data on 385 lizards collected from April 2007 to June 2014 during the active period using a cloacal thermometer. Additionally, we recorded air temperature (Ta) and substrate temperature (Ts) of lizard microhabitats at the time of capture, and the operative temperature of lizard models left in the sun and shade from May to September 2014. My results showed that the mean Tb for all adult lizards was 33.6 ± 2.8°C, with a range of 24.0 to 40.2°C. This average Tb was similar but lower than those found in other populations in Southwestern United States. The results indicated that U. ornatus at IMRS displays mostly a thigmothermic behavior. Thermoregulatory behavior of these individuals showed that U. ornatus is a thermoconformer on IMRS. There was no statistical difference in mean Tb between males and females or between non-gravid females. However, there was a significant difference between lizards found in the sun and lizards found in the shade. It is expected that rising global temperatures will influence this region and therefore will have an impact on the population of U. ornatus too; possibly affecting aspects such as time for feeding, reproducing, and of course thermoregulating. Thus, it is important for us to understand the thermoregulatory needs of ectothermic organisms as they are dependent on the direct environmental temperatures for survival, especially since many recognize that rapid global warming has already been activated by human misuse of natural resources.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

58 pages

File Format


Rights Holder

Julia Sandoval Alva