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urban ecology


and conservation

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andrew battles

Hello! I recently graduated with a Ph.D. in Biological and Environmental Sciences from the University of Rhode Island. While at URI, I was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow studying the impacts of urbanization on Anolis lizards in the lab of Dr. Jason Kolbe. In addition to research, I held an internship at the US Geological Survey (Department of the Interior). In the future, building upon my own research findings and scientific training, I want to improve the ways in which we conduct and implement science when solving policy and management concerns.

A native of Texas, my interest in urban ecology began during my time as an undergraduate at Trinity University in San Antonio. I double majored in urban studies and biology, embarking on field research that brought these two interests together and examined the impacts of humans on the natural world. After college, I held an internship with Audubon California, and started my journey of working in conservation and studying ecology.


My research questions are driven by the need to understand how humans impact the world around us. Undoubtedly, human activity alters the landscape and composition of plants and animals in an area. What intrigues me are the specific urban elements that affect the animals that live in cities. Please see my CV here!

I use Anolis lizards in Miami, Florida to address three key aspects of urban ecology.

Urban structural habitat

Anyone who has taken a walk in the woods can identify the differences between those woods and their neighborhood. When the trees, vines, and bushes of the forest become the buildings, fence posts, and manicured lawns of the city, how do lizards react to these structural differences? Do man-made structures, such as smooth walls, impact the ways lizards run?

urban thermal ecology

The structural habitat of cities creates a phenomenon called the Urban Heat Island, in which a city is warmer than the area surrounding it. Lizards, and other reptiles, are ectothermic, which means they rely on environmental temperature to regulate their body temperatures. Part of my research asks how lizards react to warmer urban temperatures.

Natural selection in the city

Not all lizards may be able to handle the structural habitat and thermal changes, among many others, in cities. Those that can survive and reproduce will pass on genes for urban survival to their offspring. This same process occurs in nature every day, but are cities different enough to change the traditional outcomes?



From September 2016 through July 2017, I held an internship at the US Geological Survey in Reston, VA. While at USGS, I worked with the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) to help managers incorporate evolutionary adaptation of target species when planning for future climate change. While there, I gained insight into federal operations, as well as improved my skills interacting with resource managers and the public. I will continue working on my project with NCCWSC for the next few months.

During my undergraduate tenure, I worked in the Natural Areas division of the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department. As a summer intern, I learned about how management decisions are implemented and how publicly-funded research meets the needs of diverse communities.




While conducting my dissertation research in Miami, I was fortunate to contribute to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden's Fairchild Challenge. This program gets school children in the greater-Miami metro area involved in science projects. My lab and I helped develop a citizen-science project seeking to map anole abundance in Miami.

After graduating from Trinity University, I held an internship at Starr Ranch Sanctuary, in Orange County, California. My duties were split between habitat restoration and community involvement and education. Myself and another intern developed and coordinated volunteer conservation projects, with an emphasis on education.

During my time with the San Antonio Natural Areas, I helped conduct education programs for children. I also led volunteer groups to collect data for Texas Parks and Wildlife studies.



Battles, AC, Irschick, DJ, and Kolve, JJ (In press). Do structural habitat modifications associated with urbanization influence locomotor performance and limb kinematics in Anolis lizards? In Press, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Thawley, CJ, Moniz, HA, Merritt, AJ, Battles, AC, Michaelides, SN, and Kolbe, JJ (2019). Urbanization affects body size and parasitism but not thermal preference in Anolis lizards. Journal of Urban Ecology, 5.

 Battles, AC, and Kolbe, JJ (2019). Miami heat: urban heat islands influence the thermal suitability of habitats for ectotherms. Global Change Biology, 25: 562–576. PDF

Battles, A.C., M. Moniz, and J.J. Kolbe. 2018. Living in the big city: preference for broad substrates results in niche expansion for urban Anolis lizards. Urban Ecosystems (currently online only). PDF

Kolbe, J.J., P. VanMiddlesworth, A.C. Battles, J.T. Stroud, B. Buffum, R.T.T. Forman, and J.B. Losos. 2016. Determinants of spread in an urban landscape by an introduced lizard. Landscape Ecology 31:1795-1813.

Kolbe, J.J., A.C. Battles, and KJ Avilés-Rodríguez. 2015. City slickers: poor performance does not deter Anolis lizards from using artificial substrates in human-modified habitats. Functional Ecology 30:1418-1429.

Battles, A.C., T.K. Whittle, C.M. Lewis, and M.A. Johnson. 2013. Effects of Human Land Use on Lizard Body Condition and Prey Availability. Journal of Herpetological Conservation and Biology. 8:16 – 26.

Dill, A.K., T.J. Sanger, A.C. Battles, and M.A. Johnson. 2013. Sexual Dimorphisms in Habitat-Specific Morphology and Behavior in the Green Anole Lizard. Journal of Zoology. 290:135–142.