Physiological Ecology of Reptiles Laboratory (PERL)


Physiological Ecology of Reptiles Lab

Research in the Physiological Ecology of Reptiles Lab (PERL) at Cal Poly focuses on the environmental physiology of reptiles. We believe that experimental manipulations performed on free-ranging animals in the field are the most powerful way to answer questions about the interaction between animals’ bodies and the environment. Lab work is also often performed to isolate and test specific environmental variables.


Rattlesnakes Courting

The main two study organisms are rattlesnakes and lizards. These are the most common and accessible reptiles on the California central coast, making them ideal organisms for collecting large amounts of data. Other projects on tropical snakes and lizards occur when time, funding, and student interest converge.


Dr. Taylor’s primary research expertise is in the areas of endocrinology and reproductive physiology, but PERL projects often extend into many other areas. Past research projects have ranged from hormonal regulation of reproduction to neuroanatomy to host-parasite interactions (see Publications).

Current research in PERL focuses on two main projects:

  1. Environmental physiology and social behavior of rattlesnakes: We are harnessing the power of technology (game cameras and live streaming cameras) to non-invasively study rattlesnakes at den and rookery (communal nesting sites) in California and Colorado. Topics currently under study include thermoregulation, water balance, and social behavior.
  2. Environmental physiology and subterranean ecology of lizards: We are studying thermoregulation and hydroregulation in numerous lizard species, ranging from common Western fence lizards to endangered Blunt-nosed leopard lizards. We are developing technology to study lizards deep inside underground refugia.


Students interested in conducting research in PERL as undergraduates or as Master’s students can find more information here.

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