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Lizard Blue

August 14, 2017

What you wear could affect the behavior of wild animals.

Transcript

Sceloporus_occidentalis_08290 Walter Siegmund CC BY-SA 2.0 via wikipedia

Western fence lizards have deep blue underbellies. (Walter Siegmund/CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikipedia)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Dressing for nature. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

While studying lizards in local neighborhoods, UCLA behavioral ecologist Bree Putman and her team wear bright orange t-shirts.

BREE PUTMAN (UCLA/Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County):

We thought we need to really have a uniform that distinguishes us as scientists and not burglars so that we don’t get the cops called on us.  

HIRSHON:

But the researchers worried that brightly colored clothing might scare lizards away.

PUTMAN:

They have really good vision and I thought, you know, maybe, they’re not going to like these  orange shirts.

HIRSHON:

Now, they report in the journal PLOS ONE that when they wore dark blue t-shirts, lizards with blue markings were easiest to approach and capture, perhaps because the animals are attracted to colors found on their own bodies. Putman, who also works for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, says that researchers and nature lovers alike should be more aware of how the clothes they wear could affect the behavior of wild animals. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard

lizardshirtcolors

Bree Putman sports different-colored shirts for science. (Courtesy of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)