Have you stumble across the skittering reptile in your backyard, and said, “Hmm…I wonder if anyone would want to know about this cold-blooded cutie?”
The answer is a resounding yes. Scientists want to know what is in your backyard – and not that pink flamingo or rusty chaise lounge. Backyard biologists can join in a nation-wide citizen science project GeckoWatch that is tracing where nonnative geckos are hunkering down here in the continental U.S. The collaborative study involves some big names, including Dr. Greg Pauly of our own Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
Check out GeckoWatch on NHM’s website to see what kind of geckos are out there, learn tips on when to best find geckos (hint: they are mainly nocturnal and they like to hang out around man-made structures), advice on how to photograph the often-jumpy reps, and how to upload your snaps. Young boys should love the chance to go outside to look for gecko poop, another way to tell if geckos are in your area.
GeckoWatch grew out of a simple Mediterranean House Gecko project that traced the movement of the nonnative reptiles that are established now in 22 states. Are they taking over habitat and food from the natives? Are they wearing out their welcome? Is there presence adding to our diversity or taking away? All these questions about the Mediterranean house gecko are now being applied to a long list of geckos on GeckoWatch.
Scientists stress that they need citizen scientists out in the field with cameras and iPhones clicking to help them get a better picture of how these nonnative geckos are infiltrating into the landscape. They need your eyes and camera, SoCal. Get cracking.
— Brenda Rees, editor
(Mediterranean House Gecko)