Watch: Predatory lizards drive anole extinction

Lizard research on tiny experimental islets in the Bahamas shows that prevailing ecological theory regarding the role of predators in ecosystems may not always be correct. Brown anoles (Anolis sagrei) usually exploit the ground area while green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) usually stay higher up in the trees on this island. But curly-tailed lizards (Leiocephalus carinatus), which prey on brown anoles, were introduced to some of the islands by researchers to test an ecological theory that predators result in a diversified ecosystem. But they found the opposite — curly-tails drove the brown anoles up higher into the foliage, which caused the extinction of green anoles on two of the experimental islands, thereby lowering the diversity of the ecosystem. The findings have implications for the ways that humans manage invasive species and predator reintroduction.

Read more at PBS.

Header Image: Brown anoles like this one usually exploit areas closer to the ground, until a larger predator drives them into the trees. ©Joshua Rapp Learn