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Talk Story Tuesday's History of Lizards in Hawaii by Valentina Alvarez, AAUW National American Fellow

Tue, May 16


Via Zoom

Talk Story Tuesday's History of Lizards in Hawaii by Valentina Alvarez, AAUW National American Fellow

What can genetics and citizen science teach us about the history of lizard introductions in the Hawaiian Islands?

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Time & Location

May 16, 6:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Via Zoom

About the event

It is commonly understood that the Hawaiian Islands harbor no native species of lizard. This is mostly due to the challenge of crossing vast oceans to reach this volcanic archipelago. However, many species of lizard are present throughout the islands today. These species were introduced as canoe species with the earliest settlements, during times of war in the Pacific, and in more recent times through increased trade. With the sensitivity of island systems to the introduction of nonnative species, it is important to study these invasions to understand their impact and mitigate them into the future to prevent catastrophes similar to those experienced on other oceanic islands. To this end, my PhD dissertation focuses on understanding the underlying genetics of these introduced lizards to infer where they came from, when they arrived, how they got to Hawaiʻi, and how they spread between the islands. Additionally, I have utilized citizen science in my research to find and document lizards across Hawaiʻi. With an understanding of the importance of citizen science, I have organized the City Nature Challenge on Oʻahu for the past four years to increase participation in the scientific process across the island. In this talk, I will summarize the work I have undertaken for my PhD over the past five years.

About the Speaker:

Valentina Alvarez is a PhD candidate in her final year at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She utilizes genetic tools to uncover the demographic histories of introduced lizards in the Hawaiian Islands. The first few years of her dissertation were funded through an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Now, in her last year, she is funded by the AAUW American Dissertation Fellowship.

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