All posts by Rich Glor

JMIH 2014: Early Records of Fossil Anolis from the Oligocene and Miocene of Florida, USA

ChovanecKevin Chovanec of East Tennessee Sate University presented one of the most surprising and important posters at the JMIH conference this summer. In his poster, Kevin provides solid fossil evidence for the oldest crown group anole. Working with samples discovered along the Gulf Coast of Florida, Kevin found abundant and well-preserved fossil remnants from anoles. Apparently this material has been around for a while, but has been neglected as attention at these localities focused on identification of mammalian fossils. Kevin has identified the remains of what appear to be at least two species of anoles in deposits that are dated as 26-28 Ma and at least one species in deposits that are 19 Ma. None of this material possesses the traits that are diagnostic for members of the carolinensis series (the only group of extant anoles that was endemic to the United States prior to a wave of recent introductions). His work suggests the existence of a multi-species anole fauna dating back to the Oligocene. A phylogenetic analysis suggests that Kevin’s fossils are members of the anole crown group, but it is not possible to place them with any more phylogenetic precision. He did note, however, that they also lack the transverse vertebral processes that are diagnostic for the β anoles (a.k.a. Norops). The work Kevin presented was part of his masters project at East Tennessee State. I can’t wait to see what other insights emerge from Kevin’s work!

 

JMIH 2014: Relative Contribution of Genetic and Ecological Factors to Morphological Differentiation in Island Populations of Anolis sagrei

Wegener

Hanna Wegener, a student with Jason Kolbe at the University of Rhode Island (and an Anole Annals contributor), presented a poster at JMIH on her efforts to identify the factors that drive morphological differentiation among Anolis sagrei populations found on 16 Bahamian islands near Staniel Cay. Hanna investigated morphometric, ecological, genetic, and demographic variation among these populations and, unlike many previous studies, considered variation in both males and females. Although Hanna did find significant morphometric variation among islands and between sexes, she did not find the significant correlation between morphometric variation and habitat use reported in prior work. She also did not find a significant relationship between morphometric and genetic variation.  She did, however, find that population density influences morphometric variation, with lizards living at higher population densities having significantly longer heads than those found on lower density islands. Because these lizards on densely populated islands are also more likely to exhibit evidence of injury from other anoles (e.g., loss of limbs, digits, or claws), it is possible that their longer heads may indicate a response to intra-specific competitive interactions. However,  interpretation of these results remains complicated because there is not a direct connection between injury and intra-specific competition, and the lizards on densely populated islands had longer heads, but not the wider heads that would have been expected if the goal of their morphometric shift was to increase bite force. Hanna undoubtedly has many more exciting questions to investigate with her ongoing research.

JMIH 2014: Effects of Natural Incubation Temperatures on Development and Phenotypes of the Lizard Anolis sagrei

asih_poster1
Yesterday at JMIH, Phillip Pearson reported results from work conducted with his thesis adviser at the University of Alabama, Birmingham Daniel Warner. Pearson investigated the impact of incubation environment on the  brown anole (Anolis sagrei), and the effects of incubation in shaded versus open habitat and early versus late season in particular. Pearson reported several significant differences between the eggs (and resulting hatchlings) incubated under these two conditions. He specifically reported longer incubation intervals under early season and shaded conditions, smaller hatchling size under shaded conditions and better performance of hatchlings at 1 and 3 weeks for the eggs incubated under the late season regime. Performance of hatchlings was quantified as their speed and the number of times they stopped during a performance trial. This work is the latest in a string of interesting studies from the Warner Lab on the impact of incubation conditions on anoles. I was going to provide links to previous posts on Anole Annals about the Warner Lab‘s work, but there are so many that I’ll just suggest that you type “Warner” into the search box at the top of the page and enjoy for yourself.

JMIH 2014: Who’s There? The Importance of Familiarity in Discrimination of Avian Calls by the Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei)

brown_anole_auditoryI saw two talks on brown anoles in the same session this afternoon at JMIH. The second reported on the response of brown anoles (A. sagrei) to potential avian predators. Lisa Cantwell presented results of her work with Joe Altobelli and Sandy Echternacht on the behavior of brown anoles exposed to the calls of potential avian predators in a controlled laboratory environment. Cantwell has previously reported that anoles respond more strongly to the calls of predator birds than to white noise or non-predator birds (see also prior work on A. cristatellus in response to predator and non-predatory birds). Cantwell played the calls of four bird species to captive brown anoles and monitored their reactions. The four birds in the study included one species that co-occurs with, and preys upon, A. sagrei: the American Kestrel. The other birds were species that do not co-occur with A. sagrei: the White-rumped Falcon (gotta love the ornithologists and their descriptive common names), the Shikra, and the Lesser Kestrel (this name seems kind of demeaning and should probably be changed). Cantwell tested if the anoles responded more to the predator that they or their ancestors have likely encountered in nature than to the calls of predators that they or their ancestors have likely never encountered. The types of reactions that were viewed as indicative of increased vigilance in the lizards included head shifts, eye opening, and movement around the enclosure. Although Cantwell found that the lizards responded to all of the various bird stimuli at a similar level to white noise, she hypothesized that this resulted from hyper-vigilance in a contrived laboratory environment. She also reported that the lizards responded significantly more quickly to the American Kestrel and that they remained vigilant for twice as long in response to this sympatric predator than they did in response to the non-sympatric predators.

JMIH 2014: Using Biological Invasions to Model the Fundamental Niche: A Case Study Using the Cuban Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei)

brown_anole_nicheI caught my first anole talk at this year’s Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in Chattanooga, Tennessee. James Stroud presented the results of work with Ken Feeley on modeling the niche of the brown anole (Anolis sagrei). Using data acquired from GBIF, Stroud showed that the environmental conditions experienced by brown anoles in their introduced range are outside of the environmental conditions experienced by brown anoles on Cuba. Stroud discussed how these data from the invasive range of the brown anole might be used to develop a more accurate model of this species’ fundamental niche. This is a work in progress.

Explaining Changes To Species Names In Nicholson et al. 2012

I’m a little embarrassed to be writing this post, but I’m still unable to figure out some of the proposed changes to anole binomials in Nicholson et al.’s (2012) taxonomic revision of Anolis. I’m a real novice with implementation of “The Code” and the rules of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, so I’m looking for a bit of help from AA readers who are more expert than I.

I understand that some of Nicholson et al.’s proposed changes to specific epithets are necessitated by the fact that their taxonomic revision would change the gender of generic epithets (e.g., Anolis chlorocyanus would be Deiroptyx chlorocyana due to the fact that Anolis is masculine and Deiroptyx is feminine). These types of changes are demanded by The Code’s article 31.2. However, I am struggling to understand Nicholson et al.’s proposed changes to twelve binomials that – to my novice eyes – do not appear to be due strictly to changes in the gender of generic epithets (see table below). Because the authors of this paper include leading authorities on taxonomy and nomenclature, I trust that these changes are not simply  the result of typographical errors.

In most cases cited in my table, Nicholson et al. add or change vowels in the correct original spellings of species epithets, where the “correct original spelling” is defined under The Code as “the spelling used in the work in which the name was established.” Based on my amateur reading of The Code, changes to correct original spellings are not permitted  unless it can be shown that the original spelling was inadvertently incorrect due to a printer’s error or related mistakes unrelated to the authors lack of familiarity with Latin (ICZN, Article 32). Can somebody enlighten me about which articles in the code govern the changes in the table below?

In this table, I provide the genus to which Nicholson et al. assign each species, the gender of this genus, the exact spelling for the specific epithet used in their manuscript, the spelling of the specific epithet from the Reptile Database, the spelling of the specific epithet from the original publication (NAs indicate that I have yet to check the original citation4), the type of change that Nicholson et al. have proposed, and the citation of the original description. Below the table, I provide some additional details about three specific cases. Thanks in advance for your help.

Genus Gender Nicholson et al. Reptile Database Original Spelling Change Description Citation
Anolis Masculine anfilioquioi anfiloquioi anfiloquioi o to io Garrido 1980
Anolis Masculine maclientus macilentus macilentus e to ie Garrido and Hedges 1992
Anolis Masculine pumilis pumilus pumilus4 u to i Garrido 1988
Ctenonotus Masculine monoensis monensis monensis4 e to oe Stejneger 1904
Ctenonotus Masculine nubilis nubilus nubilus4 u to i Garman 1887
Dactyloa Feminine anatolorus anatoloros anatoloros o to u Ugueto et al. 2007
Dactyloa Feminine euskalerrari euskalerriari euskalerriari ia to a Barros et al. 1996
Deiroptyx Feminine domincanus [see comments for correction and clarification] dominicanus dominicanus delete i Rieppel 1980 [Note: the original version of this post incorrectly referenced de Quieroz et al. 1998]
Norops1 Masculine forbesi forbesorum forbesi si to sorum Smith & Van Gelder 1955
Norops Masculine schiedei [see comments] schiedii schiedii4 ei to ii Wiegmann 1834
Norops2 Masculine williamsi williamsii williamsii ii to i Bocourt 1870
Norpos3 ? parvicirculatus parvicirculata parvicirculata4 rops to rpos and a to us Alvarex del Toro & Smith 1956

I have a bit more information about three cases in this table.

1. Anolis forbesi is the original spelling in Smith and Van Gelder (1955), but Michels and Bauer (2004) corrected this name to Anolis forbesorum due to the fact that this species is named after more than one person. Michels and Bauer (2004) suggest that this change is a “justified emendation” under Articles 31.1.2-3 and 33.2.2 of The Code. We know that at least one author of Nicholson et al. (2012) was aware of this report because Michels and Bauer thank Jay Savage for having provided thoughtful comments on their manuscript. I’m not sure why Nicholson et al. (2012) reject this proposed change by using forbesi.

2. Nicholson et al. (2012) delete the final ‘i’ from a species originally named Anolis williamsii, in spite of the fact that article 33.4 of the ICZN states that “[t]he use of the genitive ending -i in a subsequent spelling of a species-group name that is a genitive based upon a personal name in which the correct original spelling ends with -ii, or vice versa, is deemed to be an incorrect subsequent spelling, even if the change in spelling is deliberate.” Which part of this rule or related rules in The Code permits changes from ‘ii’ to ‘i’ under some conditions?

3. Nicholson et al. (2012) change both the generic and specific epithets of Anolis parvicirculata when they refer to this species throughout their manuscript as Norpos parvicirculatus (see pages 91 and 96). Although I have included this change in my table for completeness, it is the one change that I think we must attribute to a typo, even though the misspelling of Norops as Norpos appears at least twice. The change from parvicirculatus seems likely due to the fact that this species originally, and incorrectly, had a feminine rather than a masculine specific epithet.

4. This post was revised to include original spellings confirmed by Peter Uetz, thus no more NAs in the table. Thanks Peter!

 

Agamids One-Upping Anoles Once Again: The Belly Dewlap

Photograph of Mantheyus phuwuanensis by S. Manthey from Ulrich Manthey's book on agamids of SE Asia.

Photograph of Mantheyus phuwuanensis by S. Manthey from Ulrich Manthey’s book on agamids of SE Asia.

Posts about how other lizards have outdone anoles in one way or another are a common theme here on Anole Annals (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4). Keeping this trend going, I wanted to share a photograph of a remarkable species of lizard found in northeastern Thailand and Laos. This photograph of Mantheyus phuwuanensis is by S. Manthey and appears in Ulrich Manthey’s book Agamid Lizards of Southern Asia: Draconinae 2 Leiolepidinae. Very little is known about this species. The photo caption in the book notes that this is a male display. The Reptile Database has a few references, but most are not readily accessible. The one paper I could get my hands on is Ananjeva and Stuart’s (2001) paper from the Russian Journal of Herpetology that moves this species from Ptyctolaemus to its own monotypic genus based on the presence of femoral pores and other traits. Ananjeva and Stuart (2001) don’t comment on the belly dewlap, but do note that the species lives along rock streams and that it spreads its ribs and becomes dorsoventrally flattened when handled, a “behavior that is almost certainly an adaptation for fitting into rock crevices.”

Literature Cited:
Ananjeva, N. B. and B. L. Stuart. 2001. The agamid lizard Ptyctolaemus phuwuanensis Manthey and Nabhitabhata, 1991 from Thailand and Laos represents a new genus. Russian Journal of Herpetology 8:165-170.

New Look For Anole Annals

We were long overdue for a little make-over here at Anole Annals, so we just updated our WordPress theme. We’re also going to be adding some new header images derived from this year’s  photo contest. We will include a credit to the copyright holder on each image, but please let us know if you’d prefer not to see your image in our header. We hope you enjoy the new look and please let us know if you notice any problems.

(Un)true Facts About The Tarsier

According to Ze Frank, this screen capture shows the cover of the children's book "Lizard Has A ****** Day."

According to Ze Frank, this screen capture shows the cover of the children’s book “Lizard Has A ****** Day.”

If you’re not already familiar with Comedian Ze Frank’s True Facts Series, you need to check them out. Frank interweaves interesting facts about wildlife with hilariously (off)color commentary. He’s done videos on everything from star-nosed moles to dung beetles (I was first alerted of the series by a comment made by Tracy Heath over at the new Treethinkers blog). I was recently viewing True Facts About The Tarsier, and was shocked to see this puny little Southeast Asian quasi-monkey feeding on one of my favorite lizards. At around 1:26 into this video, Frank notes that the Tarsier is “the only entirely carnivorous primate, eating insects, rodents, reptiles and small birds. This incidentally is the cover of the children’s book “Lizard Has A ****** DAY.” Very funny. Of course, its practically impossible that a tarsier in nature would be feeding on what appears to be a  green anole (Anolis carolinensis). As far as I’m aware A. carolinensis is not been reported from any of the Southeast Asian islands occupied by the tarsier. Thus, if there’s we’ve learned from this video, it is that this lizard is having a ****** day because somebody just thrust it into the waiting arms of a captive tarsier.

The Passing Of A Legendary Herpetologist

17d6112f7c32f26ae9515d4fd15f4bbf.jpgTwo days ago, Hobart Smith died at the age of 100. Hobart was among the most prolific herpetologists of all time, with more than 1,500 publications to his name. Included among his publications are several classic monographs such as the Handbook of Lizards (1946) and the Checklist and Key to Amphibians of Mexico (1948). Hobart is the namesake for numerous species of reptiles and amphibians, including Anolis hobartsmithi, an endangered species endemic to the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. May he rest in peace.

Herbert C. Dessauer 1921-2013: The Passing Of A Pioneer In Anole Phylogenetics

Fig. 1 from Liner and Cole (2003), where it is also noted that Dessauer's appearance earned him the nickname "Dr. Sexauer" and invited comparison to "a Greek God."

Fig. 1 from Liner and Cole (2003), where it is also noted that Dessauer’s appearance earned him the nickname “Dr. Sexauer” and invited comparison to “a Greek God.”

Herbert C. Dessauer, whose 1981 report with Dan Shochat on “Comparative immunological study of albumins of Anolis lizards of the Caribbean islands” was among the very first attempts to reconstruct molecular phylogenetic relationships across Anolis, died earlier this month after a brief illnes. For most of his career, Dessauer was professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at LSU’s Medical Center, where he frequently collaborated with scientists at LSU’s Museum of Natural History. In addition to his 1981 classic, Dessauer was an author on numerous reports on molecular genetics of Anolis during the 1970s, often in collaboration with Dan Shochat and George Gorman. These three scientists, together with a handful of others, provided the foundation for modern molecular genetic studies of anoles. The significance of Dessauer’s contributions to anole biology are particularly noteworthy because he built his distinguished career working primarily with other systems. Indeed, Dessauer’s work with anoles doesn’t even warrant mention in a list of his accomplishments that appears in a historical perspective on his career by fellow herpetologists Ernest Liner and Charles Cole.

Nevertheless, Shochat and Dessauer’s results had a range of important implications for anole systematists; for example, they were among the first to convincingly reject reciprocal monophyly of the alpha and beta series diagnosed previously by Etheridge on the basis of morphological variation (and later diagnosed as distinct genera by Savage). Shochat and Dessauer’s results were a topic of debate in the anole phylogenetics community since before they were even published, and featured prominently in the Third Anolis Newsletter from 1977, where Shochat discussed preliminary results and Ernest Williams critiqued this work. Although Willams appreciated Shochat and Dessauer’s efforts, and understood the potential vale of the data they were obtaining, he ultimately concluded by asking”What does the new evidence [from Shochat and Dessauer] explain that the old Etheridgean scheme did not?” and answering “very little” (emphasis in original). In hindsight, I think his critique was unfair. The molecular genetic evidence they provided proved very convincing to many anole biologists of the day and many of the relationships they recovered remain well-supported, including some groups that conflicted with those recovered by previous morphological analyses and favored by Williams in the 1970s.

As I’ve mentioned previously, some biographers believe that Dessauer’s contributions to anole biology barely deserve mention among all of his other accomplishments. In searching the Google Books database for more information on Dessauer’s contributions, you can get sense for the extent of his pioneering influence. In a remembrance of the famous bird systematist Charles Sibley, Alan Brush places Dessauer alongside Sibley and the primate systematist Morris Goodman as the founders of molecular systematics. In his book Parasites and Infectious Disease: Discovery by Serendipity and Otherwise, Gerald Desch relates stories of Dessauer’s early days implementing molecular genetic analyses and teaching to others to do similar work. I didn’t know Herb Dessauer, but given such anecdotes and the remarkable list of collaborative studies he published, it seems clear that he was not only a pioneer, but also a leader, who inspired others and drove them to advance science in new and interesting ways.

In spite of his many accomplishments, I hope that, given how much Dessauer’s work on anoles influenced myself and other anole biologists, that we see it mentioned in the scientific obituaries that are sure to appear in the coming months.

Anolis: The Most Written About Lizard Genus?

In the era of Big Data, we can ask questions that would have been inconceivable just a few years ago.  Consider the types of questions we can ask using Google’s Ngram Viewer, which uses full-text searches of >4% of all books ever printed to characterize relative word or phrase usage over time (this approach was initially described in a 2011 Science paper about “Quantitative analysis of culture using millions of digitized books“).

Among the most important questions one might ask with the Ngram Viewer is “What is the most written-about lizard genus?”  I did some preliminary scouting to assess the relative usage of some of the lizard genera that I guessed would be the most popular. I quickly narrowed my queries to the five taxa – Anolis, Sceloporus, Varanus, Lacerta, and Gekko – that I think give the most interesting graphs for discussion. I excluded other potentially popular genera from my queries for for a few reasons. Iguana is very popular, but I eliminated it because it is often used colloquially to refer to lizards that don’t necessarily belong to the genus Iguana. Eumeces never appears as frequently as the other genera in my searches. Pogona is immensely popular as a pet, but usage of this genus name is still far below the others in my list.

Ngrams_1800_1900Lacerta jumps out to a big early lead and maintains a strong lead throughout the 19th century, thanks to its widespread use in Latin-language literature from the 19th century and countless books about the European fauna (Ngrams Viewer even provides links to the books or articles containing the phrase of interest!).

Ngrams_1900_2000In the early 20th century, Anolis joins the competition as one of the most popular lizard genera, and opens up a sizeable lead by the 1980s that it maintains until the turn of the 20th century.  Although Anolis is briefly surpassed by Varanus in the 2000s, it nudges back into the lead by the end of 2008!

Ngrams_2000_08

 

There you have it folks, quantitative proof of the popularity of Anolis!  Have I failed to consider some genera that might be competing with Anolis in the lizard genus popularity contest?

Experimental Study Of Reproductive Isolation In Uta

Uta stansburiana mating. Image from http://cabezaprieta.org/

The side-blotched lizard, Uta stansburiana, is one of the most widely-studied lizard species, thanks largely to work by Barry Sinervo and colleagues on the evolution of  alternative mating strategies (a.k.a. the rock-paper-scissors game in lizards).  The most recent report on the evolution of this interesting species investigates reproductive isolation between two populations of Uta that diverged within the last 22,500 years.  One of these populations is found on lava flows and the others if found off the lava flows.  This report by Corl et al. (2012) is noteworthy because recent work on a range of other organisms suggests that some “rules” for the evolution of reproductive isolation are shared across the tree of life.  Do these rules also apply to lizards?

To my knowledge, patterns of reproductive isolation have only been investigated experimentally in one other genus of lizards: Lacerta (Rykena 1991, 1996; Olsson et al.  2004). This work with Lacerta suggest substantial intrinsic reproductive isolation between species resulting from low fertility and high rates of developmental defects in hybrid crosses. Studies of Lacerta also support Haldane’s Rule because females hybrids (ZW) suffer more fitness consequences than male hybrids (ZZ).

By conducting experimental hybridization studies between these two populations of Uta, Corl et al. (2012) were able to show that significant reproductive isolation has evolved between populations, largely in the form of pre-zygotic post-mating isolation; inter-population crosses produce significantly more unfertilized than fertilized eggs relative to intra-population crosses.  Corl et al.’s results are also consistent with at least one general rule for the evolution of reproductive isolation that has been reported in other organisms; asymmetric reproductive of isolation between the two Uta populations is consistent with Darwin’s Corollary to Haldane’s Rule.

How does all this relate to anoles?  My lab is interested in this work because we’re in the midst of a major project designed to answer questions about intrinsic reproductive isolation in Anolis.  Anthony Geneva reported on some preliminary results of this work earlier this year and we hope to have more to report sometime in the near future.

Rykena, S. 1991. Hybridization experiments as tests for species boundaries in the genus Lacerta sensu stricto. Mitteilungen aus dem Zoologischen Museum Berlin 67:55–68.

Rykena, S. 1996. Experimental interspecific hybridization in the genus Lacerta. Israel Journal of Zoology 42:171–184.

 

Anolis Carolinensis Phylogeography: A Tale Of Two Studies

Figure 1 from Campbell-Staton et al. 2012.

This past summer, two groups of authors published reports on the phylogeography of the only anole native to the continental United States: Anolis carolinensis. Each report sought to characterize genetic diversity across this species’ range by identifying genetically distinct populations, inferring historical demographic events, estimating the absolute timing of diversification events, and testing the hypothesized impact of riverine barriers and Pleistocene glaciation on geographic differentiation.

Because these two reports effectively appeared simultaneously (Tollis et al.’s report appeared on June 7th in PLoS ONE and Campbell-Staton et al.’s report was accepted for publication on June 18th at Ecology and Evolution), and do not cite or discuss one another’s work, I thought it would be worth writing a post that compares and contrasts their results and conclusions.  I’m going to focus in particular on three specific results reported by both groups of authors: (1) diagnosis of geographically and genetically distinct populations, (2) inference of historical demographic processes within populations, and (3) estimates for the timing of A. carolinensis diversification.  While the two studies largely agree on the first two results, they appear to disagree somewhat on third.

1. Diagnosis of geographically and genetically distinct populations Continue reading Anolis Carolinensis Phylogeography: A Tale Of Two Studies

The Hatching Season is Upon Us

Here at the Glor Lab we’re in the second year of a major anole breeding experiment.  Specifically, PhD student Anthony Geneva is completing the second generation of an experimental study of reproductive isolation that was the subject of his poster at the Evolution meetings this past summer (see this previous post on Anole Annals for more on this poster).  I’m happy to report that egg production thus far has been steady and that the we’ve had hatchling emerging for a few weeks now.  In the photo above, you can see a baby just emerging from an egg in the foreground and other eggs individually incubating in vermiculite in the background.  We’ll have more to report on this experiment in the coming weeks.  We’re particularly interested in sharing information on how we’ve encouraged breeding this year by manipulating light and humidity, and in learning how others might have tried to do the same.

Albert Schwartz’s Notebooks

Albert Schwartz, longtime professor of biology at Miami Dade Community College, was one of the most important figures in anole biology. Schwartz co-authored the authoritative account of West Indian reptiles and amphibians with Robert Henderson, described at least 8 anole species (in addition to many other reptile and amphibian species), authored dozens of reports on anole taxonomy and biogeography (see previous reviews on Anole Annals of his reports on Hispaniolan giant anoles and Hispaniolan trunk anoles for examples of this work), and amassed a collection that would ultimately include over 15,000 anole specimens. Most of Schwartz’s West Indian collection can now be found in the collections of the University of Kansas, including 15,511 anoles. When Schwartz completed his work on the vast collections he had accumulated over decades of intense field sampling, he reached an agreement with KU that would, in 1987, have Bill Duellman and Linda Trueb driving a 38′ U-Haul truck full of over 60,000 reptile and amphibian specimens of  from Florida to Kansas.  In addition to acquiring Schwartz’s preserved material, KU also acquired Schwartz’s original notebooks.

These notebooks are housed in KU Herpetology’s library and I had a chance to check them out during a recent visit. There are more than 40 notebooks in total, and they extend across Schwartz’s career in the West Indies. He kept his fieldnotes primarily in student composition books (some of which actually bear the title “SCHOOLTIME Compositions”). For the most part, Schwartz’s notebooks are simple catalogues of specimens that include a field series number, the species name, and the date and location of the collection. Although he provides color notes on most specimens, he rarely comments on natural history or other aspects of a particular specimen’s biology.

I’d like to get all of these notebooks digitized and transcribed so that the information they contain can be made available to anyone who’s interested.  I’ve been thinking that it might be fun to crowd source the transcription of these notebooks once they’re scanned.  For those who aren’t familiar with crowd-sourced transcription, this process permits large numbers of internet users to transcribe old texts that cannot easily be digitized via optical character recognition.  Today, this approach is widely used by folks interested in transcribing handwritten documents and numerous software applications have been developed to facilitate the process.  It’s already being used to transcribe some historical field notes, including an effort by The San Diego Natural History Museum to transcribe the field notebooks of the herpetologist Lawrence Klauber.

What do you think?  Are there readers of Anole Annals who would be interested in helping transcribe Schwartz’s notebooks?  Does anybody have past experience coordinating such efforts that they’d be willing to share?

Anole Annals Photo Contest 2012: Judge’s Choice Winner

Anolis bartschi photograph by Steven De Decker.

[Editor’s Note: the person who took this photograph is Steven De Decker; see comments after the first paragraph for corrected information]

As one of the seven or eight folks who judged the photos in this year’s AA photo contest I want to give some recognition to an image that didn’t even make the list of finalists determined by popular vote.  My judge’s choice award winner is a striking photograph of a juvenile of the Cuban endemic Anolis bartschi that was taken by Joe Burgess at Cueva del Indio, Vinales, Cuba. Although observed most frequently on rocks in karstic regions, individuals like this one are also commonly seen on trunks and other broad perches emerging from the karst beneath. The quality and clarity of this image are superb. The subtle colors along the animals spine and the steely blue of the eye and surrounding region are beautiful under natural light (perhaps complemented with a tactfully subtle fill flash?). A catch-light in the black eye gives the lizard some personality, and makes me wonder what it might be thinking. The right front forelimb is lifted off the trunk and possibility somewhat blurred by motion, impressing me with the animals agility and suggesting that its ready to make a move. This photo that makes me want to get out and find some anoles.

[Note from Jonathan Losos: I screwed up! There were two photos of A. bartschi entered into the photo contest, and when Rich asked for information on the A. bartschi photo, I gave him the info for the wrong one. The photo above was taken by Steven De Decker (who also took the grand prize winning photograph of A. allisoni). Steven had this to say about the photograph of the juvenile: “It was in the proximity of the prehistoric wall at Vinales, Pinar Del Rio. We were there with 2 local biologists who told us A. bartschi was pretty common to be found at the wall 10 years ago. Great was our disappointment when we saw that [the curly tailed lizard] Leiocephalus carinatus had taken over habitat near the wall. When we went back we decided to investigate some semi caves at the border of the park, and that’s where we found A. bartschi sitting on a trunk near the caves. And to answer your question, no I didn’t use a flash for this particular photo. Using the flash here would have given me a black background.
Meanwhile, below I’ve pasted the photo of A. bartschi by Joe Burgess (whose photo of an A. gorgonae took second place in the contest); this is the photo for which Rich gave info in his post above.

New Review Of Lizards In An Evolutionary Tree By Eric Pianka

In the latest issue of Copeia, Eric Pianka provides the latest positive review of Lizards in an Evolutionary Tree.  Its easy to understand why this review appears more than three years after the book’s publication when you remember that Pianka has been a busy dude who most recently gained attention for recovering from the dead.  Anole Annals also has archived links to other reviews of the book for those interested.