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With the Museum's increasing interest in urban biodiversity, we have started looking at all types of wildlife in our highly modified industrial, suburban, and urban habitats. One thing that quickly struck us was that in our own backyard, Exposition Park, nobody had documented any lizards since 1988. This seemed strange, as lizards are common in other parts of Los Angeles, and it led to the question, "Why are there no lizards here?" We hope to answer this question with the LLOLA (pronouced "lola") project.
LLOLA aims to do two things:
1) Confirm the presence or absence of lizards in Exposition park. (After all, nobody has looked extensively for them!)
2) Find out where lizards DO occur in the Los Angeles Basin, and start to hypothesize why they can survive there.
The first goal is something that local herpetologists, Museum staff, and a few volunteers addressed on a two-day Exposition Park Herp Survey. Participants searched the park and surrounding areas for evidence of the most likely candidates: lizards and salamanders.
Lizard Hunt - May 22, 2010
Success! Our lizard hunt turned up the first confirmed lizard sighting in Expo Park since 1988! Museum staff and volunteers had confirmed sightings of two Western fence lizards, Sceloporus occidentalis. While finding no lizards is also considered important information to have, this is especially exciting news since we have been planning for the possibility of a reptilian return to Exposition Park. As long as we create a lizard-friendly habitat in our new 3.5-acre outdoor space, we hope the lizards will make their homes there.
Salamander Search - March 13, 2010
The Salamander Search did not turn up any specimens this time, but we certainly hope that future surveys will document their presence! Though disappointing, this is important baseline data that will be used in future projects.