Tag Archives: anolis

Anolis garmani in South Florida; 11 June 2016

Anolis garmani, the Jamaican giant anole; Miami-Dade county, Florida (11 June 2016, Nikon D7100).

Anolis garmani, the Jamaican giant anole; Miami-Dade county, Florida (11 June 2016, Nikon D7100).

Every year, I try to get down to south Florida at least a couple of times to stomp around for non-native anoles and other lizards. To date, I’ve only managed to find and photograph three Jamaican giant anoles, Anolis garmani, in south Florida — three individuals over two specific visits to the Miami-Dade area. The first two were in June of 2016, and the third (and largest) was in August 2017. The garmani featured here was the second wee giant from that first visit.

I’d been anxious to photograph garmani for quite some time, and we (James Stroud, Eric-Alain Parker, and myself) were more than a little jazzed to get our hands on both of those garmanis.  A. garmani was quite high on my holy-grail list for south Florida non-natives, and, whereas this garmani may have been lacking in the “giant” aspect, it certainly didn’t lack in its color play. The lead image above through the following three profile shots were all taken within the span of two minutes (1:26pm through 1:28pm):

Anolis garmani [B], 11 June 2016 (1)

Anolis garmani [B], 11 June 2016 (2)

Anolis garmani [B], 11 June 2016 (3)

When we first spotted this particular wee giant biding its time in the plenty of existence, it was sporting the familiar bright emerald green:

Anolis garmani [B], 11 June 2016 (5)

Minutes later, in hand and not too thrilled about its potential lifespan outlook, the colors shifted quite dark…

Anolis garmani [B], 11 June 2016 (4)

…and then, more comfortably, back to a more-emerald green base:

Anolis garmani [B], 11 June 2016 (6)

Looking down from above, it had a fairly typical anole head from a central Floridian’s perspective…

Anolis garmani [B], 11 June 2016 (8)

But looking up from below? An extremely awesome speckled circus of contrast and patterning:

Anolis garmani [B], 11 June 2016 (7)

Yeah, this was one hell of a lizard to get to work with. Actually, all three of them were. I’ll save the bulk of photographs for the other two individuals for a future time, but for quick reference, here’s a single shot of each:

This is the first individual we found on June 2016:

Anolis garmani [A], 11 June 2016

And here’s the much-larger male Eric and I tracked down (and almost caught) in August 2017:

Anolis garmani, 06 August 2017

~ janson

10 (Vinales)

Please Help Me Identify Some Anoles and Other Cuban Lizards

Hello to everybody, I’m an italian naturalist that visited Cuba last December 2016.

I’m mainly a birder, but I like to give a name to all the creatures I meet. So, I’m going to post 20 pictures of lizards photographed in Cuba: for some I have hypotheses about the identification, but I need confirmation. For some others, I’m completely lost!
Can anybody help me??

Continue reading Please Help Me Identify Some Anoles and Other Cuban Lizards

Is There a Crisis in Anolis Taxonomy? Part 2

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In a (somewhat) recent blog post entitled “Is there a crisis in Anolis taxonomy?”, Julian Velasco invited discussion on a perceived decline in the number of new anole taxonomists.  While it was a fun look at the dynamics of anole taxonomy over time, I couldn’t help but feel like there is a more pressing taxonomic crisis going on right now, and it affects many of the researchers that frequent this blog.

I fear too many species of Anolis are being described based on questionable evidence.  While this problem is not unique to anoles (a common term for it is “taxonomic inflation”; Isaac et al. 2004), a number of recently described anole species may be the result of overzealous taxonomic splitting.  I will give some examples below and then briefly discuss two lines of evidence that I believe are often used to divide species inappropriately.  Before I do so, it’s worth stating up front that I’ll focus on the work of Dr. Gunther Köhler and colleagues. This shouldn’t be surprising, as Dr. Köhler is the most prolific living describer of anole species.  The following criticisms should not be seen as personal, as Köhler is not unique on any of the points I discuss below.  But with many cryptic species described or resurrected over the past 10-15 years, his work has the largest impact on anole taxonomy and the science that depends on it.

I’ll start with the revision of the Anolis tropidonotus complex published in Mesoamerican Herpetology (Köhler et al. 2016).  Below I provide a quick breakdown of the paper.  I hope that others will contribute their own views on this work in the comments.  The A. tropidonotus group is one that I am well-acquainted with, having spent months of field time collecting individuals across the distribution of the group.  Köhler et al. (2016) raise a subspecies (A. tropidonotus spilorhipis) to species status while describing two new species, A. wilsoni and A. mccraniei.  Unfortunately, the data presented–morphology and DNA–do not appear to strongly support the recognition of any new species level taxa.  I argue that the inference of four species within A. tropidonotus sensu lato should require stronger evidence than that presented.

atropphylogeny

The authors sequenced 16S mitochondrial DNA for molecular analyses and present a consensus tree from Bayesian analyses of these data. This tree recovers four well-supported and geographically circumscribed mtDNA haplotype clades that correspond with the four new species. A table following the tree reveals the genetic distances between putatively new species topped out at 4.5%. This level of mitochondrial divergence is significantly less than intraspecific variation observed in other anoles (Malhotra & Thorpe 2000; Thorpe & Stenson 2003; Ng & Glor 2011). Moreover, Köhler et al.’s (2016) sampling map reflects sparse sampling of molecular data.

Based on Figure 3, morphology (other than perhaps hemipenes, which I discuss below) does not provide any support for delimitation of those populations characterized by distinct mtDNA haplotypes. The dewlap differences reported are slight and appear to fall within the type of variation observed within and among other populations of species in this group (see photos at the top of this post for an example of two spilorhipis males that came from the same locality; photos courtesy Luke Mahler). Bottom line–we see several populations with mitochondrial haplotypes that cluster together geographically with little to no morphological evidence for divergence.

The phylogenetic and morphological patterns displayed in Köhler et al. (2016) are consistent with patchy sampling of a widespread and continuously distributed species with potentially locally-adapted populations. The authors cite “the high degree of genetic distinctiveness… as evidence for a lack of gene flow, and conclude that these four lineages represent species-level units” (Köhler et al. 2016). This assumption is questionable, as researchers have long known of the pitfalls of using mtDNA to determine gene flow (Avise et al. 1983; Avise et al. 1984; Funk & Omland 2003) and supporting evidence from morphology is lacking. The different hemipenial types represent the strongest evidence for recognizing the lineages mtDNA haplotype groups. Below I will discuss the utility of those traits for species delimitation.

Finally, the authors did not compare their purported new tropidonotus-like species to Anolis wampuensis, a morphologically indistinguishable (McCranie & Kohler 2015) form that is potentially codistributed with the new species A. mccraniei. This should have been done to avoid the possibility that A. wampuensis is conspecific with one of the newly named forms.

Another example of taxonomic inflation in Anolis is from a 2014 monograph in Zootaxa (Köhler et al. 2014). Continue reading Is There a Crisis in Anolis Taxonomy? Part 2

BSA of Norops lineatopus

Geometric Morphometric Analysis of the Shoulder of Jamaican Anoles

garmani mating trivers IIxBirds are lovely animals. Our avian friends swoop through the air, defecate on field equipment, and consume lizards. What’s not to like?! Well, their shoulder region, for example. Lost interclavicle, reverted muscle pathways, and so many other anatomical adaptations that appear crucial for the modern avian life style, but that are hard to explain in a gradual-evolutionary context. Reconstructing the structural evolution of the avian shoulder remains a challenging task to students of biomechanics and kinematics. When I left my European homestead to enter the Canadian realm of biological sciences, I was hoping to solve the evolutionary mystery of the avian shoulder, at least in part. Alas, the discovery of anoles sent me on a much more convoluted journey.

Here is the first tale that resulted from that endeavour (Tinius & Russell 2014).

Continue reading Geometric Morphometric Analysis of the Shoulder of Jamaican Anoles

How Many Lamellae Are on this Toepad?

One of the age old questions in anole morphology is at what point do you stop counting lamellae on the toepad?

Without giving any more information on various techniques or methods, I thought it would be interesting to ask the AA community their personal opinions. Below I have attached a flatbed scan of a toepad. Could people please fill out the corresponding poll below, and I will present the results in a follow up post!

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Lamellae numbered 1-51 on the 4th digit of an Anolis lizard hindfoot

Finding the “Rare” Anolis duellmani

Like many quests to find rare herps, this is a story of courage, persistence, and strength. Just kidding; it was a piece of cake.

Anolis duellmani was described by Fitch and Henderson (1973) based on four specimens from the southern slope of the Volcán San Martín Tuxtla, Veracruz, Mexico. Even though the phylogenetic position of A. duellmani is uncertain, no additional morphological variation had been described for the species. As part of a major effort led by Dr. Adrián Nieto-Montes de Oca and Dr. Steven Poe to untangle the systematics of Mesoamerican anoles, Israel Solano-Zavaleta, Levi N. Gray, and I went to Los Tuxtlas to search for the elusive species.

Continue reading Finding the “Rare” Anolis duellmani

Colors And Shapes Of The Horned Anole

 

Ecuador's most wanted! This lizard was thought to be extinct for nearly fifty years, and still after its "rediscovery" in 2005, it remains hard to locate.

Ecuador’s most wanted! This lizard was thought to be extinct for nearly fifty years, and still after its “rediscovery” in 2005, it remains hard to locate.

Most records of Horned Anole are in disturbed areas, including near roads vegetation, botanical gardens and bamboo trees.

Most records of Horned Anole are in disturbed areas, including near roads vegetation, botanical gardens and bamboo trees.

It took me more than two years of constant visits to Mindo, a cloud forest-town in the Western Ecuadorian Foothills, to meet with the Horned Anole (Anolis proboscis)! I always felt it was a mythological reptile, not only for Ecuadorian herps but throughout the world. Has anyone seen a lizard with a long appendix on the tip of his nose, a wide color throughout the body, prehensile tail and even spines on the back? It is difficult not to speak mystically when we refer to Horned Anole.

For over 50 years it was listed as “Possibly extinct,” until 2005, when a group of Ecuadorian scientists “rediscovered” it. But it was not until two years ago when the global and local Anole experts, led by Jonathan Losos, Steven Poe and Fernando Ayala, started several expeditions to investigate everything about its morphology, phylogeny and natural history.

Its tail is prehensile and is possibly used to embrace the branches when it sleeps.

Its tail is prehensile and is possibly used to embrace the branches when it sleeps.

The Horned Anole is a diurnal and slow-moving lizard that usually is found perched between 4-8 meters above the ground. Although most records are in vegetation on roadsides, highways and near open areas can be very difficult to find due to their excellent camouflage that blends perfectly with twigs full of mosses, lichens and epiphytes, perfectly rhyming its colorful skin.

But what use their proboscis? Sexual selection and defense of territory are the first hypotheses that leap to the mind. Science will tell us soon! But even that, we are left to enjoy its beauty and unparalleled mystique.

 

 

Definitely its silhouette is unmistakable. His sharp proboscis distinguishes it from all Ecuadorian lizards.

Definitely its silhouette is unmistakable. His sharp proboscis distinguishes it from all Ecuadorian lizards.

It can be difficult to find. Not only because they are commonly perched on high branches, but also for their camouflage, forming an ideal combination with branches and colorful leaves.

It can be difficult to find. Not only because they are commonly perched on high branches, but also for their camouflage, forming an ideal combination with branches and colorful leaves.

It is slow-moving and spends most of its time 450–800 cm from ground and feeds on a variety of arboreal arthropods.

It is slow-moving and spends most of its time 450–800 cm from ground and feeds on a variety of arboreal arthropods.

 

Anolis proboscis sleeps on horizontal twigs and leaves (juveniles seem to prefer lower perches).

Anolis proboscis sleeps on horizontal twigs and leaves (juveniles seem to prefer lower perches).

A Morning Of Territorial Confrontations

As I photographed an A. carolinensis displaying high on a tree trunk, an A. sagrei popped out about 5 feet below and countered with a display. Before he could advance on the green anole male above, another male A. sagrei advanced to challenge. The two A. sagrei got in each other’s faces, but did not actually lock in combat. Suddenly the first A. sagrei broke off and advanced up the tree to confront the male green anole. There was a lot of counter displaying but not as fierce as just performed by the two brown anoles. Eventually the green male retreated further up the trunk, stopped to display once before disappearing around the other side.

Variation in Habitat Use by Females with Different Back Patterns

Female Anolis polylepis. Photo from http://www.wildherps.com/species/A.polylepis.html

In many species of anoles, females within a population exhibit sometimes strikingly different back patterns. A recent paper showed that there is interesting variation in the incidence of such variation: mainland and Lesser Antillean anoles exhibit it much more than Greater Antillean anoles, and within regions, some clades are more polymorphic than others. Although closely related species tend to be similar, this trait has been evolutionarily labile, evolving an estimated 28 times.

The occurrence of this variation raises the question: what’s it for? The most detailed study of the question was Schoener and Schoener’s examination of female polymorphism in Anolis sagrei in the Bahamas. By looking both within and between populations, they concluded that this polymorphism was related to crypsis. In particular, females with stripes tend to occur on narrow diameter branches, where the stripes help them blend in. Calsbeek and Cox have more recently examined the same species, finding most recently that different patterns don’t seem to vary in fitness, though they did not examine whether females with different patterns occurred in different parts of the microhabitat.

The only other recent work on this topic was conducted on A. polylepis in Costa Rica by Steffen. Continue reading Variation in Habitat Use by Females with Different Back Patterns