Tag Archives: sagrei

Brown Anole (A. sagrei) Surveys in Orange County, CA

Louis Shanghan of the LA Times reports on Greg Pauly‘s field surveys of non-native Cuban brown anoles (Anolis sagrei) and geckos in Orange County neighborhoods


“The anoles, which are native to Cuba, arrived here about a decade ago as stowaways in nursery plants,” Pauly said as the team strode down a leafy street, methodically scanning sidewalks, brick walls and tree trunks for the stick-like shapes of lizards basking in the sun. “Today, there’s at least 10 to 20 per residential lot in this neighborhood alone.”

“There’s a nice one over there,” he said, nodding toward an anole – about five inches long, adorned with light brown speckles and a bright line running from head to tail – clinging to the side of a front-yard planter box.

Full story here: Scientists survey an Orange County neighborhood’s nonnative lizard populations

As a side note, the details for the original record (as far as I know) of A. sagrei in California are as follows:

The first published documentation was in Herpetological Review 45(4), 2014, an edited version of which you can read below:

ANOLIS SAGREI (Cuban Brown Anole). USA: CALIFORNIA: San Diego Co.: Vista, elev. 158 m) 19 July 2014.
C. Mahrdt, E. Ervin, and L. Geiger. Verified by Bradford D. Hollingsworth. San Diego Natural History Museum (SDSNH 76128–76133).

New county and state record (Granatosky and Krysko 2013. IRCF Rept. Amphib. 20[4]:190–191)
Four adult males and two hatchling specimens were collected on a one-acre parcel landscaped with palms, cycads, and several species of tropical plants and ground cover. Several boulders scattered throughout the parcel were used as perch sites for male lizards. An additional 16 adults and six hatchlings were observed in the two-hour site visit (1030–1230 h). Adults were also observed beyond the property indicating that this population is established and likely expanding through the contiguous tropical landscaping of neighboring properties. According to the property owner, he first observed the species in August 2012 shortly after receiving shipments of palm trees in May–August originating from suppliers located in the Hawaiian Islands.

CLARK R. MAHRDT, Department of Herpetology, San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego, California 92102, USA (e-mail: leopardlizard@ cox.net);
EDWARD L. ERVIN, Merkel & Associates, Inc., 5434 Ruffin Road, San Diego, California 92123, USA;
GARY NAFIS, (www.californiaherps.com).

More information on A. sagrei in California can be found here

Battling Crested Anoles (A. cristatellus) in South Miami, FL

While out watching lizards last week with my undergraduate research assistant extraordinaire, Oliver Ljustina, and fellow SoFlo anole Ph.D. student Winter Beckles, we happened upon a pair of male crested anoles (Anolis cristatellus) ready to rumble! This is quite early – but not unheard of – in the season for the commencement of territorial disputes, so it was a surprise to see them locking horns so aggressively. This couple were battling fairly high in the tree, at approximately 3m.

Anyway, here are the pictures!








Anolis sagrei Survey Continued: Eleuthera, The Bahamas

beach scrub and bay scenic 2

I just got back from a short trip down to Eleuthera in The Bahamas where I was assisting Anthony Geneva (Harvard post-doc) in sampling lizards. Also along for the trip were Sofia Prado-Irwin (Harvard Ph.D. student) and Rich Glor (University of Kansas). We went with the main goal of sampling Anolis sagrei from four habitat types found commonly in the Bahamas as an extension of an ongoing project in the Losos lab (previous posts from: Rum CayConcepcion IslandRagged IslandBiminiMangrove habitat, and Great Isaac Cay). Specifically, we were looking to sample Anolis sagrei in mangrove, secondary coppice forest, closed coppice forest, and beach scrub habitats. These habitats differ in the height of the canopy, density of the understory, and composition of plants.

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We focused entirely on the southern half of the island near Rock Sound and Cape Eleuthera. We were successful in sampling two beach scrub habitats, two mature coppice forest, one secondary coppice forest, and one mangrove habitat. We were able to catch all four of the anole species found on Eleuthera: Anolis angusticeps, Anolis distichus, Anolis sagrei, and Anolis smaragdinus. We also encountered a number of other native herp species: the Bahamian boa (Chilobothrus striatus), Ameiva auberi, Eleutherodactylus rogersi, curly tailed lizards (Leiocephalus carinatus), and the Bahamian racer (Alsophis voodoo), as well as a couple of non-native species: Cuban tree frog (Osteopilus septentrionalis), and Hemidactylus mabouia.

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In my own research I work with Anolis cristatellus, the Puerto Rican crested anole. I am always surprised when I catch A. sagrei by how much smaller they are than A. cristatellus, although very similar in appearance otherwise. On this trip, I was also surprised that the A. sagrei, as well as the A. angusticeps and the A. smaragdinus, appeared to be much smaller than those I had encountered on Bimini last spring.

We also found that the density of lizards was quite low compared to what we expected and what I had experienced in Bimini, both during the day and at night. In all four of the habitat types, we saw an abundance of hatchlings, juveniles, females, and small males, but relatively few full adult male A. sagrei. For A. angusticeps and A. smaragdinus, we encountered only a few individuals total during the week of sampling. This reminded me of an odd experience I had last fall in Puerto Rico with A. cristatellus. It was the same time of year and I had an extremely difficult time locating mature animals in sites where I had previously sampled large numbers during the spring and summer months. Instead, I observed a large number of very young animals and females. I’m curious if this is a coincidence or if perhaps there is a strong seasonal effect on either male behavior (i.e., reduced visibility outside of the mating season) or male abundance (i.e., reduced numbers because of mortality during the mating season). In other words, are the males still there, but hiding, or are they really lower in abundance in the late fall? Or maybe I was coincidentally unlucky on both trips… I am very curious to hear thoughts on this!

Anolis sagrei using coral ground habitat.

Anolis sagrei using coral ground habitat.

Finally, I want to end with a short natural history note on the habitat use of the A. sagrei in the mangrove habitat. In this habitat we observed A. sagrei using perches at drastically different heights: some were 6 feet up, others were on the ground. Interestingly, the ones on the ground did not appear to be in transit, but seemed to be using the pockmarked karst as perches, running into one of the many holes when approached. Has any one else observed this behavior before? It seems so different from the typical trunk-ground anole perch and behavior to me.

That’s all for now. Currently Anthony is sampling additional islands in the Bahamas along with Melissa Kemp (Harvard post-doc) and Colin Donihue (Yale Ph.D. candidate / Harvard visiting student). Best of luck to them, I can’t wait to hear how the rest of the trip went!

Nephila Predation on Brown Anole

A brown anole is caught up in the web of an Argiope orb-weaving spider

A brown anole is caught up in the web of an Nephila orb-weaving spider

Anoles eating spiders and spiders turning the table on anoles are well reported in both the literature and here on Anole Annals (1, 2). Recently, biologists Sarah French and Matthew Wolak of UC Riverside encountered this unfortunate Anolis sagrei that had been caught up in the web of an Nephila orb-weaving spider. Here’s what they had to say about the enounter: “We were at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton. Matt & I were walking down the boardwalk, totally creeped out by the abundance of spiders, when we encountered the anole caught in a web. He was still alive, but pretty well caught. The spider didn’t seem entirely sure what to do with it, but she seemed to occasionally bite it, which caused the anole to jerk & thrash about for a few seconds. It was hard not to feel sympathy for the anole, but native species trump exotic, and so we refrained from interfering! (But we also didn’t stick around for too long to watch).”

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.

Species-Specific Feeding Behaviors!

As an evolutionary biomechanist that is half in the Losos lab, I naturally dabbled in studying anoles during my first semester. I never presented my research, and have since moved on to other animals, but I thought you might like to see what I found.

Thom’s work on head shape shows a great amount of variation in the jaw length and width among anoles, and we wondered if the shape had an effect on jaw function. I was looking for differences in feeding behavior between the short-snouted Anolis sagrei and the pointy-snouted Anolis carolinensis. I placed a cricket on a leash, put it on a wooden perch inside a plexiglas container, put the lizard on the perch at the other end, and filmed the result.

Here are some videos of one sagrei attack:
sagrei- Front view

sagrei- Side view

And here is a video of a carolinensis:
carolinensis- Side view

Based on my limited dataset, it looks like the sagrei keep their heads low on the perch while they make an attack-dash consisting of 1 chomp. They hold the prey in their mouths for a while before they begin chewing. Carolinensis get very close to the prey, pause, raise their heads up, and stab their jaws downwards without moving their hind legs.

By the way, if you need ideas on how to study anole biomechanics, I’d love to chat!

Orange Anolis in South Florida

New minor color variants appear every once in a while, but it’s always interesting to find something completely different.  This, to the best of my knowledge, is something completely different.  I’ve found a few of these guys running around, and most had very similar colors.  Considering their size (and presumptive age) I wonder if they were from the same clutch, or if a single breeding pair yielded this Punnett square anomaly.

I think the concept of cryptic coloration isn't on his mind.

Both of the males I had time to annoy/photograph (and the one female that was slightly less photogenic) exhibited the usual traits of A. sagrei.  From the heavier build and shorter snouts, as well as the bolder attitude than our native carolinensis (I think the dewlap display was more for me than anything else; even when I was three feet away with a rather bulky camera, both males stood their ground), they would definitely fit the profile. But they’re not structurally an exact match to sagrei’s either. I don’t have a great head-on shot, but they’re narrower.  Considering the insect population in the area I can’t say it’s from undernourishment.  They move and jump more like carolinensis as well. They just don’t seem to be a differently-colored sagrei.  Maybe there’s a little A. cristatellus in there.

So what exactly is our bold little friend here?

I’m not the first one here to wonder what hybridization would yield and what cool little recessive traits could come from it, but I haven’t seen nearly enough specimens to suggest it’s a morph that may stick around- whatever it’s source.

Unique dewlap?

I recently returned from a trip to eastern Cuba and as expected, made some interesting observations and gathered some new natural history information.
While poking around one evening with a flashlight (mainly looking for Eluth’s) I saw this “orange” sagrei sleeping on some veg. I photographed it to share here since there was some discussion on and off blog about this color phase. After I got it in hand to determine species (since homolechis and jubar were also very common in the area), I was surprised at the dewlap appearance. At first I thought it had a red mite infection because of the color and texture; but after scrutiny, just accepted that it had a bright red pigment that was scattered about the entire ventral anterior. Any ideas or similar observation?

Anoles in the Blogosphere

It turns out that Anole Annals isn’t the only member of the WordPress.com stable that has a thing for our favorite lizard. While recently doing some tag surfing, we came across the following posts.

Catholic mom tells the gripping (or not) story of a green anole that went for a ride on the minivan windshield. You can probably guess the outcome, but the photos are nifty. Continue reading Anoles in the Blogosphere

Never Underestimate The Ability Of The Media To Make A Bad Situation Worse

The brown anole (Anolis sagrei) was discovered in Santzepu, Chiayi County, southwestern Taiwan, in mid 2000, and except for a few academics, most people didn’t seem to notice the existence of this exotic invasive species. That all changed when red fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) were discovered in northern parts of the island in 2003. Suddenly, invasive species became a very hot topic, and the authorities launched various projects to assess and study invasive species in Taiwan. Soon, as could be expected, A. sagrei was also in the news. Continue reading Never Underestimate The Ability Of The Media To Make A Bad Situation Worse