Tag Archives: curly-tailed lizard

JMIH 2017: Removal of Curly-tailed Lizards Increases Survival of Urban Brown Anoles


Interspecific Interactions Between Two Species of Invasive Lizards in an Urban Environment; Camila Rodriguez-Barbosa and Steve Johnson

An extensive body of work has addressed the eco-evolutionary impacts of the Northern Curly-tailed Lizard (Leiocephalus carinatus) on Brown Anoles (Anolis sagrei) (much of it receiving coverage right here, here, and here on Anole Annals!). These species co-occur not only on many Caribbean islands where much of this research has taken place, but also within the urban matrix of southern Florida, where both species are introduced.

Camila Rodriguez-Barbosa and Steve Johnson investigated the impacts of curlies on brown anoles in shopping centers in southern Florida where both species were plentiful. Camila first collected baseline data on anole and curly populations at eight sites before embarking on a quest to eliminate curlies from four of her sites. Over the next four months, she removed over 300 (!) curlies from these sites, many of which had brown anole remains in their stomachs.

She found that this removal had serious consequences for brown anoles. Compared to anoles from shopping centers where curlies were unchanged, A. sagrei at removal sites experienced higher survival and consequently greater abundances. These anoles also shifted to lower perches once curlies were removed, mirroring results from previous work which show that the introduction of curlies leads to brown anoles occupying higher perches to escape this dangerous predator. Camila’s work suggests that brown anole/curly-tailed lizard interactions may be similar even in very different habitats and provides a fascinating look at lizard life (and death) in the urban sprawl of southern Florida.

Return to Staniel Cay

            Staniel Cay is one of the quaint Caribbean backwaters, populated by yachtsmen, expats, scalawags, locals and…scientists. For more than 30 years, Tom Schoener, David Spiller and associates have worked here, producing a series of textbook studies on food web ecology (most recently here).

Having finished our work in Marsh Harbour, we have relocated to Staniel, marking a return for me after a 19 year absence. As our plane wended its way down the Exuma

Headin’ south down the Exumas.

chain, the memories of my previous visits and their results came flooding back. While a graduate student in the 80’s, I read Schoener and Schoener’s 1983 Nature paper reporting the results of introductions of brown anoles (A. sagrei) to very small islands (approx. the size of a baseball diamond) around Staniel Cay. S&S, noting that islands of this size do not normally harbor anoles, decided to introduce lizards to watch the populations wither away, and thus learn something about the process of extinction. But to their surprise, the populations did not go quietly into the night. Instead, they thrived and some downright exploded in numbers, one island going from 10 introduced lizards to 98 the next year. Continue reading Return to Staniel Cay