Faculty Highlights

Fokidis Receives Grant to Study Stress Responses

Assistant Professor of Biology Bobby Fokidis has been awarded a one-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s Rapid Response Research (RAPID) program, which supports quick-response research on natural or man-made disasters or other unanticipated events.

Fokidis received the award to conduct a study of stress responses and urban resilience in anole lizards here in Central Florida following Hurricane Irma. The project, which also provides an undergraduate research opportunity, will compare how urban and rural lizard populations perceived, responded to, and recovered from the hurricane’s impact on their environment by examining changes in behavior and stress hormone levels.

Understanding resilience in this context is valuable to conservation managers and others concerned about the impact of hurricanes and natural disasters on wildlife—including the potential for animal invasions, such as the famed South Florida python invasion following Hurricane Andrew in 1992—which typically begin in urban areas. This study can also inform how low resilience leaves individuals more susceptible to the prolonged effects of extreme stress, such as with post-traumatic stress disorder.