New Anole from Colombia: Anolis anoriensis

Julián Velasco and colleagues recently added a new species to the anoles: Anolis anoriensis from the central Andes of Colombia, described in The Herpetological Journal. This species is placed in the aequatorialis group, and appears to be very similar to Anolis eulaemus, another Dactyloa group anole from the central Andes. Anolis anoriensis joins a host of recently described Andean anoles from this clade (e.g., Ayala-Varela and Velasco 2010; Ayala-Varela and Torres-Carvahal 2010 – see New Anole Literature for full citations) and adds to the incredible diversity of anoles in Colombia, which already boasts more recognized species than any other country. Despite these recent descriptions, the relationships of Andean anoles remain extremely poorly known, as does our understanding of the factors responsible for the generation of such diversity.


Anolis anoriensis (top panels) versus Anolis eulaemus (bottom panels), from Velasco et al. 2010

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5 Responses to New Anole from Colombia: Anolis anoriensis

  1. Jonathan Losos says:

    Anolis anoriensis is allopatric with its close relative, A. eulaemus. The decision of whether or not to describe such populations as new species is always problematic. In this case, the difference in dewlap color between the two taxa suggests that they may be reproductively isolated and thus good biological species. This topic is discussed in detail in two recent posts in the Why Evolution Is True website, here and here.

  2. lukemahler says:

    I was also a bit surprised not to see any discussion of that in the description. The phenotypic variation among these two forms would be considered typical among-population or even within-population variation for some anole species, but matches the level of among-species variation in some other anole lineages (e.g., some distichoids). Framing a description in the context of a particular species concept makes it a lot easier to evaluate.

  3. Julian Velasco says:

    Thanks for the post!

    We did not include a discussion about phenotypic variation in the discussion for one main reason: the lack of information about the limits of the geographic range of these species in the region. But, I consider that this topic deserve a further research particularly more fieldwork, which would highlight the issue about the distribution limits plus combined with molecular data we would highlight the phylogenetic relationships between these species and with other dactyloid anoles from the putative aequatorialis group.

  4. lukemahler says:

    My pleasure Julian.

    These topics definitely deserve further research. I’m astounded by the sheer number of anole species that have managed to cram into the fairly tiny country of Colombia. It has a few things going for it: a Caribbean coast, a Pacific coast, a relatively recent (geologically speaking) connection with the Central American fauna, and of course a complex series of mountains and valleys. So we should expect fairly high diversity. Still, I think we have basically no idea how the Andes have shaped anole diversification. This is in contrast to progress on this question using other taxa, such as birds (Weir 2006: Evolution 60:842) and some plants (Hughes and Eastwood 2006: PNAS 103:10334).

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