All posts by Armando Pou

Anolis cybotes or Anolis cristatellus?

During casual field observations at various parks in the eastern portions of south Miami, I have noticed the expansion of Anolis cybotes and Anolis cristatellus.  However, I am more adept at identifying the latter species because of the dorsal crest or sail that many of the larger males exhibit. This feature seems to be absent in cybotes, which also appears to be slightly larger and stockier than cristatellus. I believe the population in Key Biscayne (Crandon Park) is cristatellus. However, there are populations at Fairchild Botanical Gardens, Matheson Hammocks Park, Dante Fascell Park, Town of Pine Crest, and a number of the areas adjacent to the Red Road Canal (Linear Park) north of Old Cutler Road in which I have difficulties with making a positive identification. At one time, over two decades ago, the population along the Red Road canal appeared to me to be cybotes; since then there are definite pockets of cristatellus and perhaps intermingling in areas.  Both species appear to favor shaded, “woodsier” environments and seem to dominate this niche over the ever present sagrei which appears to be relegated to the sunnier perimeters of the parks or hardwood lots. I would be interested in knowing if anyone can identify the species simply from the photographs posted. Also, are these two species closely related enough to readily hybridize?  Both Anolis cybotes and Anolis cristatellus are collected locally for the pet trade which may have aided in their dispersal.POP2POP2FemBeigeBeige2

Anolis Carolinensis/Porcatus Hybrid?

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Old male passed over winter, tough overlord

For several years now, I have been noticing that Anolis carolinensis has been making a dramatic comeback in south Florida.  In the last five years or so their numbers have exploded.  Their resurgence began in the Florida Keys and they have been working their way north, recently reaching south Miami and now entering into central and northern Miami-Dade County. Unlike the original population of carolinensis, which favored rural environments, this new population is bold and holds its own against sagrei, still dominating the trunk-canopy, but ranging all across different ecological niches including completely urban environments (which carolinensis did not). However, these are simply field observations and conjecture on my part.  Having said that, my theory is that they are actually a vigorous carolinensis-porcatus hybrid.  I believe this not only because of their robust physical constitution when compared with the original carolinensis, but also because some within the population have the scapular ocellus normally found in porcatus while others in the same population do not and many have the white outline (like the old male in the picture), but not the inner dark portion of the ocelli and vice-versa.

Two contenders to take over turf (probably both offspring of old male). Notice one has prominent “eye-spot,” the other (victorious male) does not.

Two contenders to take over turf (probably both offspring of old male). Notice one has prominent “eye-spot,” the other (victorious male) does not.

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What is the Definition of a Native Species?

For years I’ve been perplexed by the definition of native because it seems to vary greatly (almost as confusing as the definition of species itself – there are “species” that vary only through geography). Is native a time dependant variable? Does it refer to a pre-Columbian period? (Of course even the term “Native American” is nebulous at best – Kennewick Man).
The reason I bring up this question is that it seems logical to me that Anolis carolinensis originated in the Caribbean, specifically in Cuba. Based on the present day currents through the Florida Straights my guess would be somewhere in western Cuba. If western Cuba is indeed the point of origin, the most likely seed species would be Anolis porcatus. Possibly over hundreds of thousands of years including an ice age, carolinensis adapted to cooler and cooler temperatures and eventually established itself throughout the southeastern United States. Continue reading What is the Definition of a Native Species?

Anolis equestris in south Florida

This young Anolis equestris was enjoying the recent bloom of a royal palm here in south Florida. After the freeze in 2010 there was a sharp decline in Anolis equestris (kill rate perhaps as high as 80%). The Iguana iguana population declined by 95% or more (so much for the “invasive invasion”). What has resulted from this die-off is that now I see many more of these young A. equestris. This particular specimen most likely hatched out last spring, there is also a smaller sized batch that must have hatched out in the fall. This staggered series of young animals is something I had not observed previously. Adult Anolis equestris (particularly the males) are notorious cannibals and young equestris are much slower and less agile than A. sagrei, A. porcatus, and A. distichus which often elude the sprinting attacks of equestris.

 There have been a number of citations of equestris eating birds and small rodents. Anolis equestris are opportunistic predators and will undoubtedly take fledglings if possible. I have seen mocking birds chase equestris from trees because they see them as threats, however, their fabled predatory exploits have been largely exaggerated. For nearly forty years I have made numerous field observations of A. equestris in south Florida. What I have found is that they spend their time much like their smaller anolis counterparts snapping up small arthropods. In fact, a fair proportion of their food intake isn’t even animal matter; Continue reading Anolis equestris in south Florida