The School of Biological Sciences, and Tasmania more generally, provide us with a fantastic combination of field sites, experimental facilities close to the University, plenty of room for holding animals within the school and access to all the analytical resources that we could need (molecular, analytical chemistry and endocrinology laboratories). This allows us to carry out integrated projects that bring together multiple lines of evidence to address fundamental questions. Most importantly, it gives us the opportunity to travel to and work in some amazing places both here in Tasmania as well as on the mainland of Australia and across the globe.
Much of our research is, predictably, carried out in Tasmania. This includes our two long-term field projects at Orford, on the east coast, as well as in the central Tasmanian highlands. However, we often have to travel far and wide to collect lizards for various projects examining responses of our study species to geographic variation in climatic conditions as well as for our work examining our respective species’ phylogenetic history.
The BEER Group has a number of close collaborators on the mainland which facilitate some fantastic field work across the pond. For example, Erik and Geoff have both spent considerable amounts of time working on projects on mallee Dragons (with Tobias Uller) and Painted Dragons (with Mats Olsson) in Yathong Nature Reserve in outback NSW. Geoff’s comparative work on family living in Egernia means that he needs to collect data on a range of species across the group. This is facilitated by his fantastic collaborative links but also, fortunately, requires him to undertake trips to remote Egernia locations himself.
Geoffs study of wall lizards takes him to many beautiful locations throughout southern Europe. This includes northeastern Italy, such as Tuscany and Liguria, as well as North Western and South-Western France. He also regularly conducts field work in many non-native populations in England. Erik has spent the autumns of the last 20 years working on Sand Lizards in Sweden.
Large Outdoor Enclosures
One of our most valuable experimental assets is our large outdoor experimental facility at Cambridge. This contains 24 large (8 x 8m) enclosures which allow us to undertake detailed experimental manipulations of key environmental and social factors which we think might be important to the questions we are addressing. These enclosures are 20 minutes from the University and situated in one of Hobart’s premier wine regions.
Terrestrial Ecology Facilities
We have over 90 small outdoor lizard holding facilities and five large animal holding rooms within the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Tasmania. This allows us to hold large numbers of animals under experimental conditions both in the lab and outside. These resources are fundamental for continuing to collect our long-term natural population data but also for carrying out experiments designed to test specific hypotheses related to our research aims.