All posts by K.Ra

Anoles and The Invasion

Book cover from the Animorphs series book 1, The Invasion by K.A.Applegate Photo fro wikipedia

Book cover from the Animorphs series book 1, The Invasion by K.A.Applegate.Published 1996
Photo from wikipedia

Recognize that Lizard?

I actually read this book a long time ago, I loved the series; basically the premise was that a bunch of children were given a space cube by an alien that allowed them to change into any animal for two hours. The kids would then use the abilities of these animals to thwart the various plans of a race of alien, mind-controlling parasitic slugs.The idea was original and the books were an interesting read too.

The picture on the cover is of one of the main characters morphing into a Cuban (specifically mentioned) green anole; unfortunately, I don’t remember what it was that he did with this morph.

Jamaica: A Land of Imperiled Nature: Threats to Jamaica’s Coastal Ecosystems Due to Proposed Development of the Goat Islands

IMG_0004

Anolis grahami in the Hellshire Hills

Today, the genus Anolis represents the most common of Jamaica’s reptiles. Indeed, most Jamaican anoles are quite ubiquitous throughout the island, but the abundance of these and other small lizards  is misleading. Many of Jamaica’s reptiles, several of which are endemic to the island, are in immediate danger of extinction. Indeed the Jamaican herpetofauna is one of the most threatened in the entire Caribbean and several species have already been lost; Many more are now under threat under threat due to  development in Jamaica’s  protected habitats.

Map showing the major protected areas and nature reserves of Jamaica including the Portland Bight Protected Area, inclusive of the Goat Islands source:http://inweh.unu.edu/jamaica-mpa/

Map showing the major protected areas and  reserves of Jamaica
source: http://inweh.unu.edu/jamaica-mpa/

Over the years  numerous protected areas have been established across Jamaica  with the intent of preserving its endemic biodiversity, particularly birds, mammals and reptiles. Two of these areas, the Black River Morass and Portland Bight Protected Area,  are significant refuges for a large number of Jamaica’s threatened endemic reptiles.

 

 

Juvenile American crocodile Crocodylus acutus

Juvenile American crocodile.Crocodylus acutus. A large population of this threatened species currently inhabits the Black River Morass
Crocodylus acutus. Photo by author

By far the most important nature reserve in Jamaica is the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA) created by the Jamaican government in 1999. It is the largest protected area in Jamaica and spans approximately 1,880 square kilometers of wetlands, coastal mangroves and coastal dry forests, all three of which are important threatened ecosystems. Although the first priority in forming the protected area was to protect the coral reefs found within, it also serves to protect vulnerable and endemic species. The PBPA encompasses the Hellshire Hills and Portland ridge in the parishes of St. Catherine  and Clarendon respectively; these are the two largest areas of dry forests remaining on Jamaica and form one of the largest areas of relatively intact tropical limestone forests in entire Caribbean.

The coastal dry forests of the Hellshire Hills, part of the Portland Bight Protected Area source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/cyclura/3267735122/

The coastal dry forests of the Hellshire Hills, part of the Portland Bight Protected Area.
Source: Joe Burgess’s Flickr page

The PBPA  is a reserve for several threatened species of plants and animals and serves as the last refuge for several of Jamaica’s rarest reptiles including the Jamaican iguana, Cyclura collei, which with a global population of 150 lizards is one of the rarest reptiles in the world. The area is also home to the Jamaican skink,  Mabuya fulgida, and the small recently rediscovered blue-tailed galliwasp, Celestus duquesneyi,  both of which have extremely limited distributions outside of the Hellshire Hills, as well as the endangered Jamaican  boa, Chilabothrus subflavus,  which is patchily distributed throughout the Island. The PBPA also encompasses several offshore cays including Little Goat island and Great Goat Island; The  Jamaican government had plans to eradicate the mongoose as well as the feral goats from the Goat islands after which suitable organisms from the mainland dry forests would be transplanted onto the islands in an effort to preserve the endemic dry forest biodiversity. This plan however seems to have hit a a monumental roadblock. Continue reading Jamaica: A Land of Imperiled Nature: Threats to Jamaica’s Coastal Ecosystems Due to Proposed Development of the Goat Islands

Ameiva

Ameiva ameiva

Ameiva ameiva Photo from Fagner Delfim’s Flickr page

Here at Anole Annals we like to obsess over our  favorite lizards, anoles of course, but there are a vast array of other reptilian marvels out there,  formidable  Cyclurid iguanas, regally patterned Chilabothrus boas and of course the ever wary ground lizards of the Antilles (and elsewhere), the ameivas. Given the ample opportunity for exploration of these seemingly under appreciated animals  I have taken my best shot at writing a post concerning ameivas,  their morphology, ecology an various other bits and pieces of info I’ve picked up over the years; Enjoy!

The large neotropical genus Ameiva contains roughly thirty-two species largely distributed throughout eastern South America and the Caribbean with a few species  extending into southern Central America. Within this genus are some of the  most ubiquitous lizards of the neotropics, though due to their incredible swiftness and skittish demeanor it is rare that one ever sees one of these charismatic lizards out in the open for any extended period of time and even rarer that the casual observer  may encounter enough of them within a single area to appreciate just how numerous they can be. This rather ambitious  post focuses mainly on the  biogeography of  Ameiva, which in many ways mirrors that of Anolis. Most of the information presented herein comes from a 2012 paper  which , among other things, revises the genus Ameiva, recognizing several monophyletic clades and excluding certain species once thought to belong to the genus. More info on ameivas, as well as some amazing pictures, can be found at Father Alejandro Sanchez’s website.

Four geographically coherent clades or species groups have been identified within Ameiva,  two of which, the ameiva and bifrontata groups, occur in South and Central America as well as in Trinidad and Grenada, while the remaining two, the dorsalis and erythrocephala groups,  are distributed parapatrically throughout the Caribbean. Two additional species, A. parecis and A. concolor remain unassigned to any of these four groups.

The bifrontata group is the smallest of the four clades, consisting of one polytypic  species, A. bifrontata, as well as the closely related A. provitaae.

 This group is almost entirely South American in distribution, occurring in Colombia and Venezuela as well as on the island of Aruba. The clade is thought to share common ancestry with the West Indian  Ameiva species and both groups share several defining morphological characteristics the most obvious of which is the presence of mild to intense red coloration on the tip of the snout of most species, a feature shared by no other teiids.

The Caribbean  Ameiva form a monophyletic clade thought to be of South American origin
with the South American  A. bifrontata  species group thought to be sister  this one. Continue reading Ameiva

Nectivory in Anolis evermanni

Puerto Rico Wildlife:  Alfredo Colón: All Lizards &emdash; Puerto Rican Emerald Anole
Puerto Rico Wildlife:  Alfredo Colón: All Lizards &emdash; Puerto Rican Emerald Anole
These stunning images of Puerto Rican emerald anoles, Anolis evermanni, drinking nectar are from the website of Alfredo D.Colón Archilla who has also published an account of the observations.
I highly recommend his website for anyone interested in some great photos of Puerto Rican herps for use in future posts; you can also read about how he uses his photos elsewhere, including on EOL, on the home page.
As an added bonus here is a much lower quality photo of Anolis grahami doing the same thing.

Editor’s note: we’ve published on anole nectivory before, most recently here.

Variation in Anolis equestris

Last week, while going through some old pictures  I had stored on my computer , I happened upon a few photos of  A. equestris that I must have saved back when I  used to surf the web for pictures of anoles. Taking a second to glance through the pictures for old times sake, I realized something: A. equestris is actually a quite variable species. Now I’m sure others besides myself have realized this before, the people who went about naming the long list of subspecies that I just found out this species has for example, but I can’t seem to find pictures of some of these subspecies so as to identify the animals in the photos, if they are indeed different subspecies that is, so I decided to post them here in hopes of getting an ID. I have chosen one photo for each of the different forms that I have noticed. I have my guesses about many of them and I’m pretty sure about a couple others. I have written my guess, if any, under each photo along with the photo reference; could anyone who knows the ID of a particular animal post their opinion in the comments? Thanks in advance!

Anolis equestris potior or Anolis equestris cyaneus

Anolis equestris potior

Anolis equestris equestris

Anolis equestris equestris
(introduced to Miami)

 

Photo from:http://www.fotos.org/galeria/showphoto.php/photo/76326 ? probably Anolis equestris equestris

Photo from:http://www.fotos.org/galeria/showphoto.php/photo/76326
?
probably Anolis equestris  or A.luteogularis
Photo apparently taken at La Habana.
two other photos: (1,2)

 

Anois equestris, photo by Henk Wallays.  license:CC BY-NC photo from http://calphotos.berkeley.edu Anolis equestris thomasi

Anolis equestris, photo by Henk Wallays.
license:CC BY-NC
photo from http://calphotos.berkeley.edu
Anolis equestris thomasi

photo from this pdf

photo from this pdf. 
?
Other photos of this form (1, 2)
And another one taken near Playa Larga.

Continue reading Variation in Anolis equestris

Trapelus flavimaculatus – Another Anole-Like Agamid

Trapelus flavimaculatus displaying. photo from http://elsanaumann.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/amazing-agama/

Trapelus flavimaculatus displaying.(above photo does not quite show dewlap at full extension). Photo from http://elsanaumann.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/amazing-agama/

Quick—when you think of an agitated anole, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps a quick color change, maybe even some squeaking and biting and, of course, a couple flashes of the dewlap all may have been high on the list. Well, not to be outdone by its cousins from the new world, the Middle-eastern yellow-spotted Agama (Trapelus flavimaculatus)  has come up with a spectacular display that involves all three behaviors listed above.

Now while its true that when it comes to agamid dewlaps, this species is not as well endowed as a few others (Hypsilurus and Draco come to mind), no other agamid (to my knowledge, that is) displays quite like it. First off, the lizard changes  from its usual drab brown coloration (essential for a desert dwelling lizard)  to a  light cobalt blue while its ordinarily pale yellow tail glows neon orange. Next, the lizard opens its mouth and displays the bright orange inside of its jaws while making a hissing noise.

yellow spotted rock agama- regular coloration. photo from http://www.treknature.com/gallery/photo71341.htm

yellow spotted rock agama- regular coloration. photo from http://www.treknature.com/gallery/photo71341.htm

The final act to this performance comes when the lizard extends its deep cobalt blue dewlap at the attacker. As soon as the threat is gone, the display is over and the lizard resumes its usual coloration. These lizards also use this display as a means of attracting/advertising their presence to females, so that’s another thing they might have in common with Anolis (I’m not exactly sure if the Anolis dewlap actually helps attract females). I thing it’s interesting that while anoles turn darker to convey agitation, these lizards actually become brighter. I think this has something to do with the fact that these are desert lizards and the blue color is really more in contrast to the desert  environment.

On a related note, how many other lizards out there have the ability to change color based on their mood?

Anolis Allisoni Fight

This is a video from the YouTube channel of the thetravelholics that I stumbled upon a while ago showing two male A. allisoni fighting.

Notice:

1.The male that had the upper hand turned brown while the losing male remained blue throughout the fight.

2.When the male turned brown some of the skin on the back of his neck remained blue, this is possibly an example of selective color change.

3.Both males had prominent shoulder patches and black patches behind the eyes.

Another Blue Anole!

There’s been discussion about blue anoles previously on Anole Annalsbut I’ve come across yet another on the internet. The anole in the above picture  is a species from the Sierra de Bahoruco in the Dominican republic. Apparently it has not been formally described yet and so does not yet have a name, but from the looks of it I would say it was related to A.alliniger or singularis. This actually leaves Puerto Rico as the only island without a blue trunk-crown anole. I have found one other picture of this species on Flickr (though it does not allow for posting on other web pages).

Below is another photo from the Anolis Contact Group, of yet another new species that appears to be related to singularis.

On Vocalizing Anoles

Greetings to the Anole Annals community,

'Many anoles vocalize , most however are either trunk ground or arboreal forms such as this A.grahami

‘Many anoles vocalize. Most, however, are either trunk-ground or arboreal forms such as this A. grahami (photo by J. Losos).

I love anoles and spend a lot of time wishing that I could personally observe the cornucopia of species that the world  has to offer, though not being a scientist by profession and only encountering a small number of anole species in my immediate vicinity, I am limited to finding all about anoles that I can  and trying my best to explain any interesting patterns that I notice, which brings me to the subject of this post.
On Jamaica, the island where I currently reside, there are seven species of anole lizards. However, only two of these, A. grahami and A. lineatopus, have an island-wide distribution  and, more importantly, they are the only two which occur with great frequency in urban areas of south-eastern Jamaica, so naturally when I first began catching anoles these guys were my most frequent quarry. My surprise came while I was holding a large, freshly noosed grahami, which I soon discovered is not among the list of creatures that readily accept being caught. In addition to thrashing wildly and making several futile attempts to do whatever damage it could with its diminutive teeth, the lizard let out a high-pitched squeak, sort of like a rubber duck being stepped on; this was so surprising to me that I immediately flung the lizard away and was left to watch as he scrambled away, no doubt feeling pretty good about his completely accidental victory.

It didn’t take me a lot of searching on the web to find out that vocalizations had been recorded for other species of anoles before, and so I decided to compile a list of every species that I could find for which there was any record of them vocalizing; so, for anyone who has ever wondered, here it is:

    • All the cybotoids  (A. cybotes and relatives)
    • A. garmani, A. valencienni, A. opalinus, A. grahami
    • A. biporcatus, A. petersi, A. salvini (synonymous with A. vociferans)
    •  A.roquet, A. trinitatis, A. extremus
    • A. chocorum
    • A. chlorocyanus , A. coelestinus, A. vermiculatus, A. hendersoni     
    • A.occultus  

Anolis conspersus. Anybody?

The list is immediately confounding in that there are at least three species groups up there (the grahami, hendersoni and roquet groups) in which all species are very closely related, but only some species vocalize; why is this ability popping up so inconsistently? I don’t think it has anything to do with any particular ecomorphs having more use for this ability than others as only one of the six ecomorphs is not represented, and it is also obvious that this trait is completely absent from some of the distinct lineages within Anolis (the genera proposed by Nicholson et al. 2012) while it shows up here and there in others. There are some species I suspect may possess the ability… such as A. conspersus, a close relative of A. grahami, but I have been able to find no mention or vocalization for this or any other species not listed above. I would love to hear if anyone has personally observed this for any other species (Anolis cybotes was the only cybotoid I had read about vocalizing, while all the others only came to my attention after an AA commenter gave an eyewitness testimony).

As to why this ability is present in some anoles in the first place, this seems to be a mystery. I know that a study was once conducted on A. grahami in which a few individuals were dissected and an attempt was made to identify sound producing structures, but none were found. The study also found that while the anoles vocalized while in aggressive confrontations, they did not respond to playback of these same vocalizations, at least not in the presence of visual stimuli, suggesting that these vocalizations do not play a pivotal role in anole social interactions. The effects of environment on whether an anole is able to vocalize are also probably negligent as the ability is present in all sorts of anoles, from mainland twig species living in mesic environments like A.salvini to West Indian xeric species such as A.whitemanni and all-around generalists like A.roquet of Martinique.

A. cybotes, very far from being arboreal

Then again, perhaps we are just looking too deeply into this. After all, when that anole squeaked at me I dropped him, which I’m sure is what he would have wanted to come out of that situation. Also, I have read that some anoles hiss ultrasonically when threatened or confronted; perhaps the big squeakers are just more intent on getting their point across.

Whatever the answer to this seemingly perplexing question is, I hope somebody figures it out eventually. Unfortunately I have stopped catching anoles and for the most part have stopped reading about them as well, so I probably won’t be adding any new species to the list. I hope anybody else with an interest in anoles comes across this post so they can find the full list of species. Unless there are more out there still, that is.