Anoles of Utila
The genus Norops (alternatively Anolis) is composed of almost 400 new world lizards belonging to the family Dactyloidae (Nicholson et al. 2012). This large and diverse family of charismatic lizards are very interesting from a evolutionary and ecological perspective, as often numerous species can occur together in the same habitats, while avoiding direct competition. Anole's in general are renowned and characterised by their large colourful dewlaps, which they use to interact with each other (i.e. for defending territories and impressing females).
On Utila Island, there are five anole species recorded, two of which (Norops bicaorum & Norops utilensis) are endemic, occurring in nowhere else on earth! Populations of both these unique anoles are considered substantially threatened (if not Critically Endangered), and current work at the Kanahau facility seeks to gather data on these species to inform a valid IUCN Classification.
Despite anoles being a charismatic and unique component of the herpetofauna on Isla de Utila, almost every aspect of their ecology was undocumented to any great detail prior to our research. Our observations suggest there are increasing threats to the endemic anole populations, including the presence of the notoriously invasive Cuban Brown Anole (Norops sagrei), and loss of the core broad-leaf and palm forest habitats that both N. bicaorum & N. utilensis rely on.
Throughout the project so far, we have gathered substantial amounts of data on these species, resulting in numerous scientific publications contributing new information for the species. The strict intention of all our works is to generate momentum for anole conservation management and protection of the target species and its habitat (find our publications here).
In 2017, our research was funded by MBZ (Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund)! Owing to their kind contribution, we were able to perform detailed mark-recapture abundance studies for Norops bicaorum across the island! Check out the research case study! (MBZ - Bica Anole)