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ID Grass anole

Hi anoles enthusiast!
It’s a recurrent problem in pet shop, the identification of the animals which are less common.
In France a pet shop announce “Anolis hendersoni” for this anole? I need your opinion, in my mind it’s an Anolis semilineatus.

anolis anolis .

Thank youfor your interest

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I have heard of the use of sticky traps for studying lizards, though a colleague told me they seem to be of uncertain safety for anoles, as his recapture records were almost nonexistant.

This morning we gave up the “bio-warfare” of feline infantry to a recent rodent invader to the house, and had to put this trap last night inside the house, this morning finding the intruder caught in it (juvenile Rattus sp.), but the domestic service lady put it for a minute in the backyard when not long after an Anolis distichus was also caught, probably in the seek of captured flies (see photos). She  then called me and I used an old trick, pouring (vegetable) oil in the prey in order to make it come loose from the glue.IMG_1444

Could the oil create a thermic or clinging capability problem to the lizard? It obviously forms a coating above scales, hence I rubbed it with napkins and then placed it back to its favorite microhabitat (trunk bark) for it to bask and recovery.


The lizard (38 mm SVL) was toe-clipped and marked in the belly and put back to the backyard. Hopefully we can have a recapture in some days (if cats and sparrows don’t get it first)


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Eye of the tiger green anole

In that classic of American cinema, Rocky III, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) employed a particularly cunning strategy during the climactic fight with the younger, stronger Clubber Lang (Mr.T): he used his face to repeatedly absorb all of Clubber’s most powerful blows until Clubber grew very tired. Rocky’s strategy worked, and Clubber, fatigued from what seemed like hours of savagely beating Rocky in the head, ultimately succumbed to one of the relatively few punches Rocky managed to land.

Repeat until World Champion

Repeat until World Champion

Now you might suspect that Rocky III’s inspiring message of never giving up being punched in the face would have few adherents in the animal world, and you would be right. In most cases of male-male combat, combatants are reluctant to enter into escalated physical altercations because the risk of injury to themselves is too high. Instead, males of many animal species have evolved ritualized aggressive signals or displays aimed at intimidating their opponents into withdrawing, and will turn to violence only as a last resort when all else has failed. But some species have adopted the spirit of Rocky’s strategy, if not the letter, and rely on persistence to outlast as opposed to outfight their opponents.

A new study by Wilczynski et al. shows that Anolis carolinensis (the undisputed greatest study organism in the world) may use persistence as part of its fighting strategy as well. Adult male green anoles establish dominance hierarchies initially through aggressive interactions, and the outcomes of these interactions figure 2are affected by a variety of behavioural, physiological and morphological factors, many of which are likely reflected in the pattern and intensity of their ritualized aggressive displays. Wilczynski et al. set up staged aggressive interactions between pairs of adult males in the laboratory and tested whether males that responded faster or for longer to behavioural challenges were more likely to win fights. They also noted the colour state, as well as the presence of post-orbital eyespots, of winners and losers, both of which have been the subject of previous discussion on Anole Annals. The authors found that for the measured types of display, future dominant individuals generally displayed more frequently, and continued to display for longer than future subordinate individuals, whereas the effects of latency to display on competitive outcomes is less clear. With regard to colour, despite some intriguing trends there were no significant differences between dominants and subordinates in any aspect of post-orbital eyespot expression. However, future dominant individuals did remain bright green for longer throughout the interactions than did future subordinates, supporting earlier suggestions that dark brown colouration is linked to subordinate social status and/or stress.

While persistence is a key component of contest behaviour in many animal species, the apparent importance of persistence in display duration in particular is especially interesting within the context of lizard displays. For example, duration of sagittal compression has previously been suggested as a handicap display in Uta stansburiana lizards, and previous studies have also suggested that persistence, perhaps related to accumulation of metabolic costs, might also dictate male contest outcomes in green anoles. Despite the wealth of knowledge regarding male green anole displays, studies such as Wilcynski et al.’s show that we still have much to learn regarding the behavioural aspects of male combat in this species, not to mention the likely relationships between behaviour and physiology.

Rocky III was unjustly spurned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1983, not even receiving a nomination in the category of best picture (Ghandi won that year for some reason). Even more outrageous, it didn’t win the Best Original Song category it was nominated in! (Would anyone seriously argue that “Up Where We Belong” is a better song than “Eye of the Tiger”? Because it isn’t, and you are wrong). In retrospect, the reason for this travesty is clear: persistence is an important part of animal fighting strategies, and Rocky III was actually a nature documentary.

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Albino anole

A very rare picture of an albino anole. I searched on a lot of websites, but found no information.

The albinos specimens have an life esperance relatively short (the photo shows a just hatched individuals) , either they are eaten because they are too much visible by the predators, or they couldn’t eat because they are too visible by the preys.
The percentage of the albinos relative the normal specimen is of one case for 100 000.

Depending on the species, this percentage can be more or less important.

Back to the anoles, unlike nocturnal reptiles for which light color is not an important problem, for our anoles which using a lot the light (it is for heating, have bright colors, use lights during parades / dominations), it is a huge problem.

The track that could be to follow is to copy the keeping of the albino alligators in zoos. Some of these zoos keep these crocodilians in total darkness! … but the anoles can’t see very well in the dark. The keeping of albino anoles does not really seem possible.

Sorry for the mistakes.

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A Giant’s Snack

Even with their large size, and spending some time in the field, it is somewhat difficult to spot a Giant Anole in Hispaniola. The most spread and common species (at least in the Dominican side) is A. baleatus, which is not an usual sight at the mesic riparian forest of “Gran Cañada” in botanical garden of Santo Domingo. But even there, sightings are just limited by spotting an animal right after it moves to hide away of view (squirreling or slowly sliding around tree trunks). This population seems to be stable and not pursued by humans, whom locally have the believe that they are harmful.

Regarding a local species, A. barahonae, the first encounter I had with this species was back in 2003, southwest of Barahona, when I saw at the distance with the help of binoculars, a White-necked Crow (Corvus leucognaphalus) holding one it its beak. This crow is a canopy and flock forager, so it is to suppose that they represent a coomon predator to that anole species.

 After that encounter, just a few more were seen, basking in a large tree in a coffee plantation, also a epiphyte-packed tree in a coud forest. This time we were exploring some rivers in the Paraiso watershed, SW Barahona, in a tributary that pours into river Paraiso. Along the road while taking photos to a basking Ameiva taeniura, I heard the some noise coming from a nearby Cecropia tree. Then I spotted the wingbeating of a Sphingid Moth, that was already in the mouth of a Baoruco Giant Anole. The anole kept still while holding prey, with tail hanging outwards of the leaves where it was perched. 



Unfortunately, I didn’t see the action before the attack, but as seen in the pictures, the death Cecropia leaves was probably the perch that the moth used to spend the day. A nocturnal species, it is likely that it was inmobile siting there just realying in its criptic coloration and pattern. In an earlier post (http://www.anoleannals.org/2011/09/20/anolis-cuvieri-on-the-prowl/), some excellent photographs by fellow naturalist Father Sanchez, showed a Puerto Ricon Giant deliberately moving in moderate heights and in several kind of perches. I often imagine that they would take their prey mostly up in the canopy or high in tree trunk, but these photograhs of the A. barahonae eating this moth were taken at a height of 3 meters, in the death leaf hanging on a small cluster of vines attaching the 5-6 meters Cecropia tree to a even shorter tree. Previous to when I heard the sounds coming from the attack, I didn’t notice any motion in the area as I was pretty close. The anole may have stalked or more likely forage and scan this (unusual?) substrate in search of prey.



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Anoles and the IUCN

Anoles are well known for a lot of reasons, but conservation is not one of them.  Possibly because of the abundance, hardiness, and visibility of the more common anole species, the group as a whole is often regarded as one that’s doing just fine.  To date, very few specific efforts have been made to assess the conservation status of anole species.*

Anole species vary, of course, in how they’re doing.  Although species such as Anolis cristatellus, cybotes, and limifrons seem to occur on every perch across broad distributions, species like A. fowleri and A. megalopithecus have only been located a handful of times in the wild despite some considerable efforts. Dozens more species are known from just a single locality, where they may or may not be locally abundant.  While a lot of rare or little-known anoles may simply be secretive or geographically restricted, some are very clearly endangered.

In Haiti, for example, Anolis eugenegrahami, darlingtoni, rupinae, and rimarum are all restricted to montane habitats with intact forest. These habitats have all but disappeared from the mountains of Haiti, and the fates of these species become less certain each year (see coverage here, here, and here). The same can be said for A. amplisquamosus of Honduras (it’s only known from a small area within which suitable habitat is rapidly disappearing; Townsend 2006, Townsend et al. 2006), and is likely true for many other poorly known species.  Several such anoles are at very high risk of extinction, and there have been virtually no coordinated efforts to conserve them.

The Haitian Cascade Anole, Anolis eugenegrahami, in its natural habitat

Deforestation for charcoal production, about 100 meters from one of the only known populations of A. eugenegrahami

With these and other issues in mind, we sent a proposal to Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN SSC) to form a specialist group dedicated to anoline lizards: the Anoline Lizard Specialist Group (ALSG).  This proposal was a long time in coming.  The idea arose from discussions about threatened anoles at the 2009 Anolis Symposium at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology.  We tested the waters by suggesting the formation of an SSC Specialist Group in a short article in the 6th Anolis Newsletter.  Receiving a positive response, we wrote a Specialist Group proposal and submitted it to the IUCN SSC in early 2011.

In Fall 2011 we heard the fantastic news that the ALSG had been formally approved!  We’ve been working to put the group together since then, and this weekend we sent out our first round of membership letters.

In this post, we wanted to (1) share this news, and (2) briefly describe what the ALSG is, and what our goals are for the next couple of years.

IUCN SSC Specialist Groups are taxon or issue-specific working groups that provide the IUCN and the world at large with objective expert appraisals of the conservation status of groups of organisms or habitats. They also develop Species Conservation Strategies for species identified as threatened.  Our goals as a specialist group will be to assess the conservation status of Anolis species, identify threats to these lizards, and to develop plans to conserve the species that are most imperiled through international collaboration. During the next 2 years, most of our activities will be focused on conducting IUCN Red List assessments for all unassessed species of Anolis (~300). We will rely on our members, as well as their students and colleagues, to conduct and review these assessments according to IUCN protocols (Greg Mayer, of the University of Wisconsin, Parkside, will help coordinate this work as the ALSG Red List Focal Point). As we progress towards this goal, we will increasingly shift our focus to developing Species Conservation Strategies for threatened anoline lizards.

The ALSG is a volunteer group, and all of this work will be done by the coordinated efforts of the anole community.  One of the key motivating factors for the creation of the ALSG was the existence of such a vibrant community (as evidenced by the long tradition of Anolis Newsletters, and, of course, Anole Annals).  People working on anoles have been very enthusiastic to contribute to these endeavors, and we hope to harness some of this enthusiasm to help conserve anoles.

If you’re interested in these issues, and if you’d like to participate, we’d love to hear from you. We’d be particularly excited to recruit people with experience conducting IUCN assessments, or with experience in applied conservation, but we’re happy to hear from anyone who wants to help.

With this in mind, we wanted to say a few things about membership within the ALSG.  As with all Specialist Groups, membership to the ALSG is granted via appointment by the group co-chairs (that’s us).  Our membership is made up of professional scientists (including grad students) or others with professional-level experience in Anolis biology, husbandry, or applied conservation. The key feature of membership, of course, is that members must be willing to make significant contributions to the ALSG. On the ground, this means composing or reviewing IUCN Red List assessments, and helping develop and implement IUCN Species Conservation Strategies for anoles identified as threatened.

If you’re interested in anole conservation issues, drop us a line: we’d love to hear from you regardless of whether or not you fit the description above.

Expect to hear a lot more from us soon.  For now we wanted to debut the group, but we hope to keep the anole community up-to-date on our activities via Anole Annals.  Doubtless, we’ll also spend a lot of time here trawling for facts, favors, and feedback as things really get rolling.

All the best,
Luke Mahler and Rosario Castañeda,
ALSG Co-chairs

*About ¼ of the ~400 species of anoles have received IUCN Red List assessments (you can see which ones by searching for “Anolis” using the Red List search engine). Almost all of these species were assessed during two large-scale assessment projects. About half were assessed as part of the Sampled Red List Index (SRLI) for reptiles, a push to conduct assessments of a random selection representing 16% of the world’s reptiles. A similar number of anoles was assessed during a successful push by NatureServe to conduct IUCN Red List assessments for all North American reptile species (what this means is that all anole species occurring in Mexico have been assessed). Extremely few anoles have received Red List assessments outside of these projects.

**Special thanks to Neil Losin, who gave us permission to base our logo on one of his excellent photographs. The logo was designed to be generic rather than to represent a particular species (hence, the dewlap color and pattern are arbitrary). Nonetheless, we used one of Neil’s A. cristatellus images as our template.

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