In his beautiful monograph on anoles of Guadeloupe (A. marmoratus ssp), Lazell (1964, 1972) showed the existence of a large variability of phenotypes and described six subspecies of Grande-Terre and Basse-Terre , i.e. A. m. inornatus, A. m. speciosus, A. m. setosus, A. m. girafus, A. m. alliaceus and A. m. marmoratus (see my previous post “The anoles of Guadeloupe“). However, as Lazell indicated Lazell in 1964, “there exists between two distinct populations occupying different geographic areas a zone in which “intergrade” individuals assure continuous gene flow betweens the two extremes.” In other words, the classical subspecies could be considered as extremes that would be relatively few relative to the entire population of Guadeloupe anoles.
Within the framework of a project funded by the National Park of Guadeloupe and the University of Lyon (France) and in collaboration with the DEAL of Guadeloupe, we have identified this year the population of anoles on Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre. 120 stations distributed over the entire territory were studied. 687 anoles were characterized and 260 genetic samples were taken. This study demonstrated the existence of extreme variability of phenotypes between stations and within each station, with a minority representation of the subspecies classically described in the literature. This variability is represented by the poster below. This result leads us therefore to question the relevance of currently distinguished A. marmoratus subspecies as well as on the work of the field experimenter. What should be the selection criterion to select an individual on a station? Should it be random regardless of the phenotype, or should we select the one that is closest to the referenced phenotype, although this phenotype is a minority within the population?