All posts by Gregory C. Mayer

About Gregory C. Mayer

I'm a professor of biological sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

JMIH 2016: Rock ‘n’ Bowl Anole

At the JMIH in New Orleans this past July, the 100th anniversary celebration of the ASIH was held at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl, where music, food, drink, dancing, and bowling were enjoyed by all. But for those who were alert on their way in, there was an added bonus: anoles! Or, at least, one anole, spotted by Quynh Quach and corralled by Kristin Winchell.

Quynh and Kristin spot their quarry.

As other attendees file in, Quynh and Kristin spot their quarry in the bushes.

Taking a picture of the crowd filing in, I serendipitously caught our two intrepid anoleers  about to make the catch in the bushes to the right of the entrance. Kristin made the grab, and displayed her catch.

Kristin displays the catch.

Kristin displays the catch.

It was, of course, Anolis sagrei, the invasive Cuban species which has been spreading through the southeastern US for more than 80 years now. He was a nice-sized adult male, typical of the nominate form that occurs through most of the species’ US range.  The edificarian habitat– in bushes at the edge of a parking lot next to a building– is also typical of where invasive sagrei can be found.

Adult male Anolis sagrei, New Orleans, Louisiana, 10 July 2016.

An appreciative crowd gathered.

Eager anolologists immortalize the NOLA anole in pixels.

Eager anolologists immortalize the NOLA anole in pixels.

I was glad to see it, because prior to this I had only seen Anolis carolinensis in New Orleans (more on this in a later post).

Quyhn and Kristin show off their catch.

Quynh and Kristin show off their catch.


Evolution 2013: Anolologist Diet

As students of anole biology, we are interested in anoles’ ecological relationships, including what they eat (which apparently includes fingers!). But what do anolologists eat? At the Evolution 2013 meetings, ably covered by Jonathan Losos and Martha Munoz in a series of informative posts from the anole point of view, I was able to obtain photographic evidence. The foraging seems optimal.

Jon Losos at Evolution 2013, displaying food item.

Jon Losos at Evolution 2013, displaying food item.

A Brief History of Anoles in Research

The sequencing of the genome of the  green anole (Anolis carolinensis) is a landmark in the age of genomics, and a highpoint in the annals of anole studies.  It is the first complete genome sequence of a reptile, and a great step forward in the development of comparative genomics. Results are already coming in: Matthew Fujita, Scott Edwards and Chris Ponting have a paper in press in Genome Biology and Evolution, using an earlier release of the anole genome, showing that the green anole genome lacks the large guanine-cytosine rich regions (called isochores) that are characteristic of birds and mammals. Is this lack unique to the green anole, or a feature of some larger group? We don’t know, of course, because the green anole is the first non-avian/non-mammalian amniote to be sequenced, but it is a hint of new things to come. As Rich Glor put it in his commentary here at Anole Annals,

Fujita et al.’s work  is a good example of the insight offered by comparative genome sequencing; as the number of available genomes expands, this work is sure to continue to challenge overly simplistic assumptions about genome architecture and evolution derived from biased sampling of the tree of life.

Green Anole, Anolis carolinensis, New Orleans, LA. Note the expanded subdigital toepads.

So why was an anole chosen to be the first reptile sequenced? The short answer is that, among a small group of candidate species of reptiles announced by the NIH in May of 2005, the response of the biological community favored the green anole over the garter snake. But the longer answer includes why the community preferred the green anole: it has long been the subject of diverse physiological, behavioral, ecological, and other  studies (a “model” organism in the functional biology sense), and, more importantly, anoles in general have been favored and favorable materials for a diverse array of physiological, behavioral, ecological, evolutionary, and zoogeographic studies over many decades. The goal of this post is to review a bit of the rich history of anole studies to provide some background on why so many researchers have found anoles to be vastly interesting animals. Continue reading A Brief History of Anoles in Research


During a visit to New Orleans last month , I came across this little fellow.

Young male Anolis carolinensis, Washington Square, New Orleans, 30 December 2010

He was about 2 feet up on some broad-leaved plants planted around a tree in Washington Park, at the corner of Frenchmen and Royal Streets in Faubourg Marigny, just east of the French Quarter. Here’s an overview of the Square looking east, taken from about where the lizard was found.

Washington Square, New Orleans, 30 December 2010

I was actually a little surprised to find carolinensis, rather than sagrei. Anolis sagrei is well known as a good colonizer, both natural and introduced, and is now known from Florida, Texas, Georgia, and Louisiana, with stragglers reported as far north as Virginia. I was once given a tiny baby anole that was caught on a windowsill in Cambridge, Massachusetts (!) that I believe was this species; it had probably arrived as an egg in the soil of a houseplant.

Continue reading NOLA ANOLE