In what can legitimately be called a taxonomic coup, an Anolis lizard has stolen the cover of Evolution for the third time in 8 months. That’s right folks – 3 out of the last 8 Evolution covers have been anoles (see our coverage of past covers here).
The latest, from the April 2011 issue of Evolution, highlights a new paper by Steve Poe and company about the relationship between deep evolutionary history and recent naturalization success in anoles. The punch line is that anole species endemic to single-species islands share a suite of traits with anoles that have become naturalized outside of their native ranges. Furthermore, the traits of such ‘solitary anoles’ may be used to predict naturalization more generally within Anolis. It’s an interesting paper and it demonstrates the utility of phylogenetic “tree-thinking” in matters relevant to conservation biology. Poe et al. go one step further though, provocatively suggesting that human-mediated anole invasions simply represent the acceleration of already-present ecological and evolutionary processes, and that humans have changed “the tempo, rather than the essence, of omnipresent natural processes” (p. 1200).
Here’s a bigger image of the anole on the cover, courtesy of Steve Poe. It’s Anolis kunayale, which was described by Erik Hulebak and colleagues in 2007.