New Anole Distribution Records: Do Lizards in Potted Plants at Home Depot Constitute Range Extensions?

As mentioned in the previous post, the journal Herpetological Review is an excellent resource for anole natural history information. A frequent contribution is range extensions, often by county, for both native and introduced species. Range extensions are important pieces of information for biologists, as accurate county-level distributional data is crucial in many important exercises, such as mapping species richness in a region or identifying range boundaries (and then asking why the range ends in certain areas). This quarter’s issue has the following two range extensions.

Christopher Thawley and Fern Graves report a new county record for Anolis carolinensis in Bullock Co., Alabama, just south of Auburn. This apparently fills a hole in the confirmed range of the species in that part of Alabama.

Cory Adams and friends report an extension of Anolis sagrei range in Angelina Co., Texas. Interestingly, this specimen, as well as a specimen from Nacogdoches, Texas, were found in potted plants in Home Depot and Lowe’s garden departments. The authors posit that these animals turning up in East Texas are not range extensions, as in owing to the expansion of individuals from established ranges, but instead are the result of novel introductions facilitated by interstate transport of goods such as potted plants. If this is the case, these animals could have come from anywhere, not just the invasion front along the Gulf states. In other words, if the potted plants are coming from, say, Florida, then these animals would be leapfrogging their established conspecifics to potentially start new colonies and expand the range.

Adams, CK, D. Saenz, and JD Childress. 2014. Anolis sagrei (Brown Anole). Distribution. Herpetological Review 45: 282.

Thawley, CJ and F. Graves. 2014. Anolis carolinensis (Green Anole). Distribution. Herpteological Review 45: 282.

About Graham Reynolds

Graham is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina Asheville. His research focuses on Caribbean herpetology- specifically anoles and boas.

2 thoughts on “New Anole Distribution Records: Do Lizards in Potted Plants at Home Depot Constitute Range Extensions?

  1. I live in New England and an anole hatched out of an I egg that was inside the cactus planter I purchased at Lowes. I’m sad because I am a lizard lover and I have tried many different ways of feeding the hatchling and nothing seems to work.

    1. Anoles do not usually eat the first few days of life, though they do need daily water. After a few days, offer them pinhead crickets or flightless fruitflies from your local pet store.

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