Anole Photo Contest 2013–Time To Vote!

Hispaniolan Brown Racer Natural History

brown racer

A cobra in the Caribbean? No, the Hispaniolan brown racer, Haitiophis anomalus. As AA contributor Miguel  Landestoy reports in the September issue of IRCF Amphibians & Reptiles, more than half of all prey consumed by these snakes were anoles (Miguel: which species?). The article is a comprehensive overview of the natural history of this little known species, including much data newly collected by the author.

Sale On Anole Watches! Grass-Bush Anole Added To The Ecomorph Line Of Wristwatches

Just when you thought it couldn’t get better, it has: a grass-bush anole has been added to the original four ecomorph wristwatches. The watch features a Puerto Rican Anolis  pulchellus  from a beautiful photograph kindly provided by Manuel Leal. Check it out along with the other four ecomorph watches at zazzle.com.

And if you order by 9 p.m. eastern time today, it’s 31% off! Use this code: HALLOWEENDAY

Can Anoles Distinguish Predatory From Non-Predatory Birds By Their Calls?

Cantwell and Forrest. sagrei response to bird callsApparently they can, as they graph above indicates: Captive brown anoles tilt their heads more when the call of a kestrel or hawk is played compared to their response to calls from a variety of more benign feathers. These results come from a study on 32 captive brown anoles conducted by Cantwell and Forrest and published recently in the Journal of Herpetology. We’ve had a bit of discussion on the hearing ability of anoles–we tend to focus on anole visual capability, but its clear that they can hear and thus the role of auditory capabilities in the lives of anoles deserves more study (as do their vocalizations).

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.

Anoles Established In Los Angeles

hollywood2Green Anoles in La-La Land! Greg Pauly at the Los Angeles County Museum confirms that they are well-established in Hancock Park, a large park that includes the La Brea Tar Pits and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Invasive species are no laughing matter, but surely we can make an exception for an anole in LA. Jokes, anyone? Thanks to AA commenter Don Lyman for bringing this to our attention.

Greg Pauly and Left Coast anole

Book Review: The Symbol, The Spectacularly Beautiful And Varied Lizards Of Ibiza

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I’ve just finished reading The Symbol, the spectacular new book by Dappen, Losin, and Pérez-Mellado on the Ibiza wall Lizard, Podarcis pityusensis. We’ve already discussed in these pages the exploits of the first two authors, Ph.D.’s-turned-filmmakers who have already produced some exceptional science documentaries, most with a lizard focusAnd we helped advertise their ultimately successful effort to crowd-source funding for their trip to the Pityusic Archipelago to produce the book. As a result, we saw the spectacular photos and videos they posted along the way, as the project was in progress. For all of these reasons, we had high expectations for the ensuing volume.

Slide36And now The Symbol has arrived, and our expectations have been vastly exceeded. In a word, the book is fabulous, or should we say “fabuloso, fabelhaft, favoloso” because the book is simultaneously written in English, Spanish, German and Italian? At first pass, what grabs attention are the photographs, which are amazing. Of course, with a resplendent species like Podarcis pityusensis to work with, the Day’s Edge team had good material with which to work, but they’ve made the most of it. The photos are lustrous, exquisite, sharp and beautifully framed.

But what was so unexpected is the fascinating evolutionary pageant put on by these lizards. We had no idea that they were so extraordinarily diverse, exhibiting dramatically different colors manifest over small geographic distances.

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Check out the geographic distribution of the different color forms, 23 of which are recognized as distinct subspecies. Truly extraordinary.

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The authors comprehensively review the natural history and evolutionary diversity of these lizards, explaining in a way that will be captivating to a general audience. Ibiza is a world-renowned tourist destination, and the Ibizans love their local lizards, so this book will no doubt be of great value to locals and tourists alike, and doubtless will educate a wide audience.

Yet, the book also holds value to the seasoned herpetologist. The discussion of the biology of this species is thorough and first-rate, and the photos capture in unusually vivid detail many important aspects of their ecology and behavior.

Slide20Slide29

 

Anole biologists, the challenge has been thrown down. Dappen and colleagues have shown what a fabulous book looks like. Our lizards are equally enticing and photogenic–let’s see a book on a Caribbean anole!


 

 

Anole Photo Contest: Still Time To Enter

Last year’s winner, Anolis allisoni by Steven De Decker and Tess Driessens

We’ve gotten a fabulous set of entries already, but rumor has is that there still might be room for an even better one. So get your photos entered before the end-of-the-month deadline. And don’t forget the grand prize: a spiffy Anolis watch of the ecomorph of your choice! Enter today!

The rules: please submit photos (as many as you’d like) as attachments to anoleannals@gmail.com. To ensure that submissions with large attachments arrive, it’s a good idea to send an accompanying e-mail without any attachments that seeks confirmation of the photo’s receipt.  Photos must be at least 150 dpi and print to a size of 11 x 17 inches. If you do not have experience resizing and color-correcting your images, the simplest thing to do is to submit the raw image files produced by your digital camera (or, for the luddites, a high quality digital scan of a printed image). If you elect to alter your own images, don’t forget that its always better to resize than to resample. Images with watermarks or other digital alterations that extend beyond color correction, sharpening and other basic editing will not be accepted. We are not going to deal with formal copyright law and ask only your permission to use your image for the calendar and related content on Anole Annals. We, in turn, agree that your images will never be used without attribution and that we will not profit financially from their use (nobody is going to make any money from the sale of these calendars because they’ll be available directly from the vendor).

Please provide a short description of the photo that includes: (1) the species name, (2) the location where the photo was taken, and (3) any other relevant information. Twelve winning photos will be selected by readers of Anole Annals from a set of 28 finalists chosen by the editors of Anole Annals.  The grand prize winning and runner-up photos will be chosen by a panel of anole photography experts. Deadline for submission is November 1, 2013.

Biodiversity Of The Lesser Antilles Conference Volume

french symposium-1A conference on the fauna and flora of the “Petite Antilles” was held in Martinique in 2010 and the resulting conference volume has just appeared and is downloadable. The papers are many and varied, covering all manner of organism and topics spanning a wide range of topics. I’d give a full report on the papers, but…most are in French. Of most interest to our audience is a paper from Roger Thorpe’s reporting further studies on contact zones between divergent A. roquet lineages on Martinique (we previously discussed what was formerly their most recent study). In addition, the Bobs Powell and Henderson, along with Gad Perry and others, have a paper on introduced species of the Lesser Ants, Michel Breuil has one on sphaeros, and there are a number of others of interest. The full Table of Contents is below.

french symposium TOC1

french symposium toc2

Egg-Laying Biology Of The Green Anole

The egg-laying biology of anoles is surprisingly little studied. Where do they lay their eggs? How often? Inquiring minds needs to know. And now a team of Japanese scientists led by Mitsuhido Toda has taken a small step to answer these questions.

Working with green anoles introduced to islands near Japan, the researchers brought ten females into the lab, amply fed and watered them, and saw where and how often they laid eggs. The lizards were brought into the lab in April and the first egg was laid in late May. Egg production increased until a peak in mid-August and ended in late October. Over the course of the season, females laid an average of 13.7 eggs. At the peak in August, females were averaging almost an egg a week.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the study was the cage in which the females were kept, which had a variety of available sites, including a potted fern and pots with wet and dry soil all at ground level, and another set of pots at a meter. Females strongly preferred the low-down pots to the high ones, and the pots with the ferns to those without. Among eggs laid in fern-less pots, all were in the wet soil and none in the dry soil. In the pots with ferns, eggs were often laid in the cup-shaped part of the plant in the center of the pot or between the eggs; eggs laid in the soil were from 0-50 mm below the surface, averaging 17 mm deep.

This research is part of a greater effort to learn the natural history of the green anole so as to eradicate it from the Japanese islands, where it is apparently having a devastating effect on the endemic insect fauna [1,2]. The researchers suggest that eradication efforts may be most useful in April, before the egg-laying season begins, and also suggest the development of artificial egg-laying sites, from which eggs can be harvested before they hatch.

R.I.P. Chad Watkins

Anole Annals is very sorry to learn of the passing of AA contributor Chad Watkins. Chad, a graduate student at the University of Texas-Arlington , was killed in a car crash October 8th in Dallas. Chad’s research was on the occurrence of transposable elements in Hox genes in Anolis carolinensis. We reported on his fascinating talk on this topic at the 2011 Evolution meetings, and Chad himself posted on some eggs that survived freezing in an incubator mishap. Rest in peace, Chad Watkins.

Predation On Anolis Sagrei By A Juvenile Southern Black Racer

snake eating sagreiI’m a big fan of predation events,  and after two and a half months of working with Sitana in a site bizarrely devoid of predators, I had high hopes for Miami. I was not disappointed, and on my second day, had the chance to watch this snake capture and eat a female Anolis sagrei. This happened in the grounds of the Florida International University, Biscayne Bay Campus, where I was collecting some preliminary data on A. sagrei territory overlap. The photo is from relatively early in the lizard consumption process, before the snake (a Southern Black Racer, Coluber constrictor priapus) turned the lizard around and swallowed it head first.

I initially thought the anole was A. distichus, which are abundant in the area where I saw the snake. On seeing that it was in fact A. sagrei, I realised that I might have unwittingly played a role in the lizard’s demise. I had in fact been trying to catch a female A. sagrei in the vicinity myself, and must have chased her right into the grasp of this snake! I like to think of the situation as my having facilitated the snake’s successful capture, and not as being out-lizarded by a baby snake, but I know I’m just deluding myself…

Thanks to Gabe Gartner and James Stroud for identifying the snake.

Hueyfest A Great Success

Outside of the program distributed at Hueyfest. Designed by Barry Sinervo.

Outside pages of the program distributed at Hueyfest. Designed by Barry Sinervo.

A week ago Friday, 60 people gathered at the Burke Museum in Seattle to celebrate the career of Ray Huey. And what a career it’s been: thermal ecophysiology, comparative methods development, rapid evolution in Drosophila, effects of global warming on ectotherms, and much, much more.

HueyFestProgram final BLK-1 insideAnd we heard all about it, and then some, in the eight talks that filled the day’s proceedings. The presentations were many and varied, but all had one theme: the important role Ray has played not only in the development of important ideas in science, but in the lives of the people with whom he has interacted. Here’s a few highlights:

 

 

 

Paul Hertz, who has worked with Ray since they were graduate students, reflected on Ray then and now

Paul Hertz, who has worked with Ray since they were graduate students, reflected on Ray’s early days up to the present

huey2

Some of the photos of Ray in earlier days presented by Hertz

huey1huey3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up was Joel Kingsolver, who provided an insightful analysis of Ray’s publishing approach. Continue reading Hueyfest A Great Success

The “Rediscovery” Of Anolis Proboscis, And The Evolution Of A Viral Internet News Story

Mahler_Anolis_proboscis_IMG_1438

If you work on Anolis lizards, there’s a good chance you’ve been asked about the recent rediscovery of the long-thought-to-be-extinct “Pinocchio Anole” within the last week. As Anole Annals reported on October 7, this story has hit the big time. After being featured on the Huffington Post, the tale of this rediscovery went viral, receiving extensive news coverage worldwide.

The catch, as most Anole Annals readers are doubtless aware, is that the Pinocchio Anole wasn’t just recently rediscovered. It was rediscovered in 2005, and has since been the subject of field studies resulting in no fewer than five published works (six if you count “Finding Anolis proboscis,” Steve Poe’s 2010 Anolis Newsletter article about finding Anolis proboscis).

What gives? How can the central claim of such a major scientific news item be fundamentally incorrect?

I propose the following hypothesis: This story evolved to its current state by good old-fashioned natural selection. I think that an initially accurate web story was repeatedly and imperfectly replicated, and that as the story was picked up by increasingly larger news outlets, important details were lost or altered during transcription (perhaps selectively, since discovery makes good copy), resulting in the evolution of an incorrect news item.

If I have things right (it’s possible I don’t know all the details), the story started with an informational advertisement from the ecotourism company Destination Ecuador.

If you read that article, it’s pretty accurate with the potential exception of a single use of the word “re-discovery” to describe the event during which the Tropical Herping team found Anolis proboscis. The use of that word is admittedly a little strange and perhaps a bit unwise, but the article makes it very clear that the actual rediscovery of the species took place in 2005, and describes a successful scientific expedition to study the species in the wild in 2010. To me the point of this article is “with our ecotourism company, you can have a chance to travel with experts to see a weird, rare, recently-rediscovered lizard species.”

Next comes an article by Douglas Main on livescience.com, which appears to be the original source of the viral news item. If you read the LiveScience article, it’s worded in a way that tells a narrative of very recent rediscovery (which is not really true) without ever explicitly stating it. Continue reading The “Rediscovery” Of Anolis Proboscis, And The Evolution Of A Viral Internet News Story

Brown Anole At Bermuda International Airport?

Mark Outerbridge recently posted this photo in a comment, writing: “This photo of an anole hatchling was taken (via cell phone, hence the poor quality) by a member of the public in the departure lounge at the Bermuda international airport. Could it be a brown anole?”

We’ve already reported on brownies in Bermuda, but who would have thought they were going in on commercial flights? Or maybe they’re heading home? Is this a brown anole? Could it be Anolis grahami or some other species?

Adapting Anolis: The New Film On Cuban Anoles

In the last year or two, we’ve seen a number of documentaries on Cuban anoles, and here’s another, a 12-minute piece featuring A. equestris, A. vermiculatus, A. ahli (I think), A. sagrei, A. angusticeps, and others. Worth watching, just for the closing line, “There are over 300 anole species in the Caribbean, making the Anolis lizard one of the planet’s most diverse and evolutionarily significant animals.”