Anolis carolinensis (Carolina Green Anole), 13 March 2012

It’s April and I do believe we’re due for an update with our resident Grand Bay Carolina green anoles, Anolis carolinensis.

As I’ve mentioned before (here and here), the Carolina green anoles are hanging out much lower to the ground at Grand Bay than expected. This species is a trunk-crown ecomorph, meaning they’re adapted to living around mid and upper tree trunks, branches, and other foliage elevated up off the ground. In Florida, the Cuban brown anoles (Anolis sagrei) are trunk-ground ecomorphs and are adapted for the lower elevations — the ground, lower-trunks, smaller bushes, and the like.

At Grand Bay, however, the green anoles are all over the ground. I call ’em low-riders, like the song. In mid-March, I was really thrown for a curve when I found them low-riding the water’s surface at Grand Bay. Low rider is a real goer, indeed. Boldly go they upon the water!

In March 2012, I observed a good number of Carolina green anoles prowling about on aquatic vegetation. Some of them were flexing their dewlaps and bobbing their heads, as if to signal dominance over the water, while others stared intently at the water itself, as if hunting or watching for predators. Or maybe just admiring themselves in the water’s reflection…? Heh.

Now, I’ve seen a good number of Carolina green anoles in my life (mostly in Florida and alongside Cuban brown anoles), but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many hugging a water system like this. This wasn’t just a case of a few stragglers. The entire canal-line was adorned by these lizards.

They were damn near everywhere and it wasn’t for lack of dry land. There was plenty of available land (and land-rooted foliage) in this immediate area. Plenty of bugs, too. Lots of food running and flying about. Though the green anole population is fairly robust at Grand Bay, it doesn’t seem overly populated. It’s not like these anoles were forced from land by larger, more dominant males… These anoles were choosing to be on the water. It was the hip, cool place to be.

There could be any number of reasons why all these anoles were low-riding the waters at Grand Bay. If I had to make a blind, unscientific, I-teach-English-not-Biology guess, I’d start with the relation of spring and the abundance of arthropod nymphs and other insects in the water. This stretch of Grand Bay (a canal-like area on the outskirts of the actual bay) was teeming with arthropodic life (many photos of those organisms coming soon) and that must be awfully tempting for a low-riding lizard with gumption and appetite.

Anyhow, this is just another lovely reminder of how little I actually know and understand about these lizards. This is not something I’d expected to see from the green anoles at Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area just east of Valdosta, Georgia. I’ll be sure to monitor them throughout the summer to see if this behavior appears limited to early-Spring.

NOTE: If you’re an anole aficionado and don’t yet know about The Anole Annals, get thee to the other side of this link! Else, ye shall live a life unfilled.

~ janson

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