Puerto Rican Immigrants

Karl Questel from Alsophis Antilles had told me they were here, but only in the last few days did I see them myself. While attending the Nature Foundation’s Rockstars for Nature event at Port de Plaisance on Sunday, I noticed a couple strange looking anoles. Today, I went back to confirm that they are Puerto Rican crested anoles (Anolis cristatellus).

The population seems to be fairly localized around a stand of ficus trees, but it’s impossible to be sure without surveying a broader area. For now, it’s the only place I know of on St. Martin where you can see three species of Anolis in one area. I doubt there’s a way to tell how they got here, but since it is a marina, it’s plausible that they arrived by boat. Here are a few photos.

While it’s exciting to see a new species here, the real question in the long term is how the newcomers might impact our native anoles. This is a particular concern because Anolis gingivinus lives only in the Anguilla bank (Anguilla, St. Martin and St. Barths) and Anolis pogus lives only on St. Martin. In the near-term, it could be an interesting opportunity to see how the three species interact. Caribbean anoles have been the subject of much study as an example of adaptive radiation. On islands with multiple species, each species will typically a slightly different ecological niche. Here on St. Martin, A. gingivinus is larger and tends to prefer more open areas, while A. pogus is smaller and prefers shadier locales.

For reference, here are photos of our native anoles from the same location:

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