I’ve just returned from a trip to Martinique collecting data for a project I’m working on. In the process of collecting data and animals to bring back for work in the lab, I was able to travel all over to see Anolis roquet across the island, and photograph the different ecotypes/subspecies and their habitats. I was extremely impressed with how variable the island and the Anolis were, and I thought I’d share some of those images with everyone here.
As a bit of background, Martinique is formed from five separate geological regions that each were represented historically as their own precursor islands that joined together to form the current island (Thorpe et al. 2008). As a result of this process, A. roquet on the island is represented by four modal haplotype lineages, with their distribution strongly correlating with the boundaries of those geological regions, except for one modal haplotype lineage being shared between two (Thorpe et al. 2003). Anolis roquet lives across the island in a wide range of habitat types. Their occurrence in disparate habitat types has yielded a number of ecotypes with highly variable coloration and patterning (Thorpe et al. 2012). This variation was significant enough that six subspecies of A. roquet were described by Lazell (1972), all of which are pictured below.
While in Martinique, we were staying in an area called Gros-Morne, which is in the north-central part of the island. This area is part of the central geologic region and the Anolis in this area are from the mesic/transitional ecotype, which is the most widespread form and is what has been considered to be the nominate subspecies, Anolis roquet roquet. This particular portion of the central geological region, however is toward the montane area, so here the animals are more toward that end of the spectrum than the xeric form. Here are a couple photos of animals from this area, as well as a couple shots of the garden and area they were collected:
One of the first places we went to was out onto Presqu’île de la Caravelle, which is a peninsula nearby with dry forest. This is a different geological regions (Caravelle) and the only of the geological regions where the anoles do not have their own modal haplotype group, although it is admittedly the smallest geologic region. Regardless, the animals from the end of the Presqu’île de la Caravelle are classified as their own subspecies: Anolis roquet caracoli. This subspecies is more xeric adapted, but it shares modal haplotypes with the nominate form from the central geological region. Here are pictures of a male and female of animals from this area, as well as photos of the Ruins of Château Dubuc, an 18th century sugar cane and coffee plantation on the Presqu’île de la Caravelle, surrounded by habitat of this subspecies:
Interestingly, at the base of this peninsula, the xeric form/subspecies integrades with the nominate form, expressing a more xeric end of the mesic spectrum. Here is a picture of a male and female:
Next, we visited the northest coast of Martinique, to visit what is classified as Anolis roquet majoigris. This form is considered an eastern littoral ecotype, is from the central geologic region (like the nominate form from where we were staying), and shares a modal haplotype group with the nominate form and Anolis roquet caracoli. Overall this form appeared to be much more uniform and drab in color and pattern than the other forms seemed to be. Here are a couple images of it and its habitat:
Then, we went to the highest mountain peak on Martinique, Mount Pelée. Mount Pelée has beautiful rainforest transitioning into montane savannah as you increase in elevation. It is part of the northwest geologic region and is home to a montane ecotype referred to as Anolis roquet summus. When we were there the first time, the entire area was engulfed in a cloud, and while it was not actually raining, all the moss and epiphytes were dripping water. Here a couple images of this form, as well as the transition zone into the montane savannah (still seeing some decent structure though), which is just a bit higher than we found this form, but not much:
Our next stop was along the north-central west coast of Martinique. This area is also part of the northeastern geographic region. It is home to what is referred to as Anolis roquet zebrilus, which is considered a xeric ecomorph and has a common modal haplotype group to the animals from Mount Pelée (Anolis roquet summus). Here are a couple images of this form and its habitat:
We then traveled down to the the Southwest-Trois Ilets geological region. In addition to originating from their own geological region, the Anolis here are also from their own modal haplotype. Despite this, they are classified as Anolis roquet roquet along with most of the central region animals, and no “subspecies” are recognized from this area. Like the Anolis roquet roquet from the area we were staying, these animals live in a mesic environment, although more toward the xeric end of the spectrum, and aside from having less blue, look quite similar:
Finally we visited the extreme southeast of the island, where what is referred to as Anolis roquet salinei is found. This is considered a xeric ecomorph and is from its own geologic region (South-St. Anne) with its own modal haplotype group. It also is supposed to have one of the sharpest transitions between adjacent ecomorphs/subspecies. Like the other two xeric ecomorphs/subspecies above (Anolis roquet zebrilus and Anolis roquet caracoli), the baring on the body is very common in this form, although all three are from different geologic regions and have different modal haplotype groups.
Of course in addition to the remarkable Anolis and incredible scenery, Martinique is also noteworthy for other herpetological queries. In particular, the endemic Martinique or Two-Lined Blind/Thread Snake (Tetracheilostoma bilineatum), which of species for which adult specimens are known is the second smallest snake in the world (108mm TOL), the endemic Martinique lancehead (Bothrops lanceolatus) and the endangered Lesser Antillean Iguana (Iguana delicatissima) can be found there as well.