Eastern Water Dragons
Dr Frere established our long-term study of eastern water dragons in sites around Brisbane's CBD in 2010. These dragons are bigger and bolder than their non-urban counterparts. They are also diversifying at rates that allow for the study of evolution in action.
Dragons in Brisbane city show significant levels of genetic divergence despite the small geographic distances between parks (<5 km), and significant differences in morphology (body size, head and limb shape and forelimb and hindlimb length) depending on the park they reside in.
Our main study site is Roma Street Parkland, which has a large population of 350+ dragons, each of which maintains a specific home range. Our study has shown that, like mammals, dragons have preferred associates or "friends", social dominance hierarchies, and even share avoidances.
Our team is at the field site for 7 months of the year, when the dragons are out of hibernation. Each dragon in the Parkland is identified by a unique scale pattern around each eye.
By studying the behaviour and social networks of these lizards over their lifespans and across generations, we are able to investigate questions about the importance of sociality to health, reproductive success and evolution.