New Data on the Reproductive Cycle of Anoles

Many lizard species lay one or two multi-egg clutches each year; anoles, however, distribute their egg laying over the course of several months by producing a single egg every week or two.  Although this unusual aspect of anole reproduction is conserved across the entire genus, other aspects of anole reproduction exhibit considerable variation.  The annual reproductive cycle of anoles, for example, is known to vary from nearly continuous year-round egg production to highly seasonal reproduction limited to the warmest or wettest months.  This variation appears to result from a combination of regional environmental variation, reproductive cycle plasticity, and historical contingency.  In the latest issue of Herpetologica, Domínguez et al. (2010) provide new details on the reproductive cycle of female A. lucius.  Although some previous reports have suggested continuous reproduction in Anolis lucius, Domínguez et al. find that female reproduction in populations near Havana, Cuba is highly seasonal; all specimens examined had non-vitellogenic ovaries between September and January before reaching peak egg production in July.  Although their quiescent period is shorter, the reproductive cycle of A. lucius is similar to that of the better-studied temperate species A. carolinensis in being driven by photoperiod and temperature.  Two other noteworthy facts seemed worth sharing.  First, like other anoles from the northern Neotropics, male and female A. lucius reach maturity in approximately eight months.  Second, communal egg-laying in A. lucius is noteworthy because, like other rock-dwelling species from Cuba (i.e., A. bartschi and A. argenteolus), females often lay in small cavities in cliffs, caves and rocks rather than in soil or trees.

About Rich Glor

Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of Rochester and longtime anole enthusiast.
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