About this project
UPDATE 4/25/12: Help us make this project even better! We want to bring The Symbol to every primary school in Ibiza and Formentera, and create an interactive iPad edition of the book to reach an even bigger audience! But to do all of that, we need to reach a new goal -- $20,000 -- before the campaign ends! Learn more about our plans for expanding the project here. With your help, we can do it! THANK YOU to all of the wonderful people who have already pledged their support!
Welcome to the Kickstarter page for our book: The Symbol: Wall Lizards of the Pityusic Archipelago. The Ibiza Wall Lizard, a threatened species that’s only found on Ibiza and Formentera, is the symbol of these Spanish Mediterranean islands. The lizards appear in art, on clothing and postcards, and their images are on display in restaurants, hotels, and homes throughout the islands. Despite their iconic status, few people know much about the lizards, and there’s no place for tourists and locals to learn more about this fascinating species. Ibiza Wall Lizards may have the greatest diversity of colors of any reptile -- they range from green, to blue, to orange, to black! They’re also one of only a handful of lizards worldwide that act as plant pollinators and seed dispersers, so they play a crucial role in the health of this island ecosystem. The Symbol will bring the folklore, biology, and conservation of these lizards to everyone through spectacular photos and easy-to-read text. The book will be available in four languages – Spanish, English, German and Italian – the four most common languages of the islands. This coffee-table book will be a perfect souvenir for tourists, and a wonderful gift to the locals. By donating to this project, you can help make lizards synonymous with nature on these islands and change the way people think about Ibiza’s reptilian icon forever.
Ibiza and Formentera are famous worldwide for electronic music, night life, white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters. The islands draw over two million tourists each year. Ask any tourist what the symbol of these islands might be and they’ll tell you the same thing: lizards! The Ibiza Wall Lizard (Podarcis pityusensis), a threatened species that is only found in this archipelago, is the official symbol of Ibiza and Formentera. These beautiful reptiles are a popular motif on towels, shirts, stickers and sculptures throughout the islands. You can even see their silhouettes tattooed on the bodies of beachgoers! And it’s no surprise. The Ibiza Wall Lizard is hard miss, with its vivid colors and curious behaviors. The lizards inhabited these islands long before people arrived, and we want to make sure that the symbol of Ibiza and Formentera remains secure for generations to come, protected and loved by the people who live on and visit the islands.
For locals and visitors alike, this endemic lizard is a constant reminder of nature in this archipelago, yet many people don’t realize just how special these lizards are. Our goal is to create a multilingual, photo-illustrated book about these lizards for the general public. This coffee-table book will be called The Symbol: Wall Lizards of the Pityusic Archipelago and will be the first book about the Ibiza Wall Lizard and its unique links to the culture of Ibiza and Formentera. Biologists Nate Dappen (University of Miami), Valentin Perez-Mellado (University of Salamanca), and Neil Losin (UCLA) will write the text, and Nate Dappen and Neil Losin -- professional photographers as well as biologists -- will provide stunning photographs. The Symbol will provide locals, visitors and hobbyists with basic knowledge, fascinating natural history, and spectacular images of lizards and other island wildlife. Through this book, Ibiza’s lizards will gain a voice in their own conservation, inspiring people’s curiosity and earning their respect.
What makes the Ibiza Wall Lizard so special?
Color Diversity: The Ibiza Wall Lizard exists only on Ibiza, Formentera and about 40 small islets nearby, yet among these islands it exhibits some of the most spectacular color diversity observed in any reptile. Lizards come in every shade of blue and green. On some islands the lizards are brown, orange ,or even black. Nate Dappen earned his Ph.D. studying color evolution in the Ibiza Wall Lizard, and in The Symbol, he will explain what his research teaches us about why this species is so colorful! Click here to see a gallery of Nate’s photos from the field. See the image below for a sample of some of the color diversity observed among island populations of the Ibiza Wall Lizard:
If you want to learn more, here’s an award-winning short film (13 minutes) about Nate’s research:
Plant Pollinators and Seed Dispersal: Food is often scarce on islands. While mainland lizards usually eat insects and other small prey, the lizards that live on many Mediterranean islands have evolved to eat plants as well. The Ibiza Wall Lizard is omnivorous, often eating flower petals and drinking nectar. By traveling from flower to flower in search of food, these lizards unknowingly pollinate many local plant species. The lizards also eat many local fruits. By eating the fruit and defecating seeds elsewhere, the lizards have become one of the islands’ most important “seed dispersers.” Valentin has been studying the intricate relationships between lizards and plants in the Mediterranean for decades. In The Symbol, he will show readers why lizards are vital to these unique island ecosystems.
Cold-blooded cannibals: Lizards commonly become prey for many bird species found on the islands. But birds aren’t the only animals that eat these lizards. With a lack of protein in their diets, island lizard species are opportunistic, and they can even be cannibalistic! We have seen dozens of adult Ibiza Wall Lizards eating juveniles, and have documented this amazing behavior with photographs and videos! Our book will contain these incredible photographs and will discuss the implications of this behavior on the biology of these lizards.
If you want to learn more, here is an award-winning short film (3 minutes) about lizard cannibalism and dietary adaptations to island environments:
We’ve spent a lot of time in these islands over the last five years conducting research and photographing and filming these lizards. This summer, we plan to return to the islands for one final month of intensive photography and writing. By the end of the summer, we will have collected the final photographs we need to complete the book. The writing and book layout will be complete in Fall 2012 and will begin printing and distribution in Spring 2013. The money raised through this Kickstarter campaign will be used to pay for our travel and subsistence expenses during our 1-month trip to the islands, as well as the publication costs of the first edition of this book.
Dispatches from the field: As scientists, we know how important reaching out to the public can be. Our goal is to share the amazing biology of the Ibiza Wall Lizard -- and its unique role in island folklore and culture -- with everyone. Since we know that not everyone will buy a copy of the book, we will also be blogging and sharing video updates from the field. Nate Dappen and Neil Losin aren’t just photographers; they are also accomplished filmmakers. They started Day’s Edge Productions in 2010. During their month in Ibiza and Formentera, they will post weekly video dispatches about their progress, and these videos will be distributed through a variety of web media outlets!
Nate Dappen is a biologist, photographer and filmmaker based in Miami. He will complete his Ph.D. on March 28th, 2012 in the University of Miami’s Department of Biology. He earned his Ph.D. studying the evolution of color in the Ibiza Wall Lizard. Nate studied both biology and photography as an undergraduate at the University of Colorado, and he has divided his time between science and photography ever since. In 2011, Nate was awarded the NANPA College Scholarship, a prestigious photography scholarship from the North American Nature Photography Association. With his frequent collaborator Neil Losin, Dappen created Day’s Edge Productions, a company dedicated to making science accessible and exciting through creative visual media, and together they have produced a several award-winning science and natural history short films.
Valentín Pérez-Mellado, Ph.D.is Professor of Zoology at the Department of Animal Biology, University of Salamanca (Spain). He has studied a wide variety of organisms in his long career, from birds and mammals to Mediterranean lizards. He has conducted research in montane areas of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain), as well as in Southern Morocco, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Bolivia and United States. He has been working in island ecosystems from 1973 to the present, especially in the Balearic Islands, Croatia, Aeolian Islands and Tuscan Archipelago (Italy), Aegean Islands (Greece) and Bonaire (Netherland Antilles). Valentín’s research encompasses a variety of topics in involving the ecology and behavior of amphibians and reptiles. He is particularly interested in the interaction of island reptiles and plants, including the role of reptiles as plant pollinators and seed dispersers. He has published more than 280 scientific papers and is the author of three scientific books, and the editor of four others. He also writes on the topic of science communication.
Neil Losin is a a National Geographic Young Explorer based at UCLA in Los Angeles. He is a biologist, award-winning wildlife photographer, and filmmaker. He studies the evolution, ecology and behavior of invasive lizards in Florida, and he will complete his PhD in May 2012. When Neil isn't in the field conducting his own research, he uses photography and other media to engage the public in science, and trains other scientists how to do the same. Neil’s wildlife images have been displayed at the G2 Gallery in Venice, CA, and published in books and magazines worldwide. Neil co-founded Day’s Edge Productions in 2010, serves on the Environment Committee of the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), and is an Associate member of the International League of Conservation Writers (iLCW).
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