Using Landscape Genomics to Study Dispersal of Invasive Species

Agama picticauda Basiliscus vittatus

South Florida is home to the world’s largest community of introduced lizard species, with established populations of 43 different species. This community is a great example of the novel ecosystems concept, serving as a test case for how these novel systems operate, particularly how species disperse throughout a new habitat. As invasions become more common as a result of globalization, research on non-native populations is essential to inform managers on the best practices to prevent or reduce negative impacts on native ecosystems. To understand mechanisms of dispersal of these non-native lizard species, I am conducting a landscape genomics study, using next-gen sequencing to detect the relationship between environmental factors and spatial genetic structure, such as the factors that influence dispersal and persistence of the species.

For my study I am focusing on two large predatory lizards that, due to their generalist diets and large adult body size, likely impact native ecosystems but are poorly studied in their non-native range. These species are Agama picticauda, a rock specialist from sub-Saharan Africa, and Basiliscus vittatus, a riparian specialist from Central and South America. These species were both introduced in Miami in the 1970s and now occur all throughout Miami-Dade County. Utilizing an individual-based sampling approach, I have collected about 50 individuals of each species:

Sampling Map