- Undergraduate Education
- B.S. Biology, Stephen F. Austin State University
- Graduate Education
- M.S. Biology, University of New Mexico
- Ph.D. Biology, University of New Mexico
Dr. Lee Fitzgerald is a herpetologist and Curator of the Division of Amphibians and Reptiles at the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections. The Fitzgerald Lab carries out research on evolutionary ecology and conservation biology of amphibians and reptiles. Dr. Fitzgerald’s research takes place primarily in the American Southwest and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The lab’s research addresses various conservation issues, for example, sustainable use as a conservation strategy in the tropics, wildlife trade, determinants of local and regional diversity, and mechanisms determining the persistence and extinction of invasive and native species. Dr. Fitzgerald has worked on the reptiles and amphibians of Paraguay and sustainable use of biodiversity in the tropics since 1980. In Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia, he led research and management programs on caimans and tegu lizards (genus Tupinambis). In the USA, Dr. Fitzgerald has carried out a directed, long-term, research program on the lizard community in southeastern New Mexico and adjacent West Texas for 28 years, revealing mechanisms of ecological scaling in this system with particular attention to the imperiled Dunes Sagebrush Lizard. His research is currently focused on further developing ideas related to conservation scaling. Dr. Fitzgerald teaches the undergraduate courses Natural History of the Vertebrates and Herpetology and the graduate capstone course for the Applied Biodiversity Science Program. He created and directs the Applied Biodiversity Science Program and is serving as Chair of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Ph.D. Program and President-elect of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR). He has published more than 175 scholarly works on lizards, snakes, crocodilians, turtles, frogs, birds, elephants, and people.
Research Interests and Specializations
Ecology, Conservation Biology, Herpetology
The Fitzgerald Lab
The Fitzgerald Lab is focused on a central question in conservation: “What allows a species to persist and conversely, what causes it to disappear?” The ecological answer depends on factors such as species’ life history and sensitivity to landscape change. The relative importance of these processes varies with scale. The conservation answer depends on the match between ecological scaling and conservation scaling: the extent to which conservation measures are effective at multiple scales. Drawing from the fields of population and community ecology, physiological ecology, and landscape, lab members study and write about topics in ecology, herpetology, wildlife trade, sustainable use of biodiversity, and endangered species.
Chyn, K. *, Lin, T.-E., Chen, Y.-K., Chen, C.-Y., & Fitzgerald, L. A. (2019) The magnitude of roadkill in Taiwan: Patterns and consequences revealed by citizen science. Biological Conservation 237, 317-326. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.07.014.
Ryberg W., Fitzgerald L.A. 2015. Landscape composition, not connectivity, determines metacommunity structure across multiple scales. Ecography 38 01-10. doi: 10.1111/ecog.01321.
Walkup, D. K., D. J. Leavitt, and L. A. Fitzgerald. 2017. Effects of habitat fragmentation on population structure of dune-dwelling lizards. Ecosphere 8(3):e01729. 10.1002/ecs2.1729
Jarnevich C.S., Hayes MA, Fitzgerald LA, Yackel Adams AA, Falk BG, Collier MAM, Bonewell LR, Klug PR, Naretto S, Reed RN. (2018) Modeling the distributions of tegu lizards in native and potential invasive ranges. Nature Scientific Reports 8(1) 10193. (The paper was covered world-wide in many media outlets.)
Stronza, A.L., Hunt C.A, Fitzgerald L.A. 2019. Ecotourism for conservation? Annual Review of Environment and Resources 44:1 https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-101718-033046