Anolis desechensis: Little Known Anole From The Puerto Rican Bank


desechensis island conservation FB


Anolis desechensis is a member of the A. cristatellus species complex from Puerto Rico. Found only on the tiny island of Desecheo, very little is known about its natural history. In fact, some might question whether it should be a distinct species, but in the absence of any data, it’s hard to say.

This lovely photo comes from the Facebook page of Island Conservation, a wonderful organization devoted–as its name implies–to the conservation of island biota. I just heard a talk yesterday crediting them for eradicating rats from an island in the Galapagos, paving the way for preservation of a unique giant tortoise race. But that’s another story.

About Jonathan Losos

Professor and Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. I've spent my entire professional career studying anoles and have discovered that the more I learn about anoles, the more I realize I don't know.

9 thoughts on “Anolis desechensis: Little Known Anole From The Puerto Rican Bank

  1. Spectacular crest! I’m curious why you say that there are no data relevant to the status of Anolis desechensis as a species. What about Rodriguez-Robles et al. (Evolutionary relationships and historical biogeography of Anolis desechensis and Anolis monensis, two lizards endemic to small islands in the eastern Caribbean Sea)?

    1. Well, it all depends on how you want to recognize species. The Rodriguez-Robles et al. paper not surprisingly finds desechensis nested within cristatellus, which some might argue would suggest that it should not be accorded species status. More importantly to me, if my recollection serves, the morphological basis for originally describing the species was so insubstantial that the author vacillated on whether to recognize it as a distinct species or not. I guess my point would be that more detailed study of whatever characters might make desechensis distinctive needs to be conducted in the context of variation within the clade to which it belongs.

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