Published April 26, 2022. Open access.

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Charm Anole (Anolis gracilipes)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Anolidae | Anolis gracilipes

English common name: Charm Anole.

Spanish common name: Anolis encantador.

Recognition: ♂♂ 18.5 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=5.8 cm. ♀♀ 19.1 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=6.1 cm..1,2 Anoles are easily distinguishable from other lizards by their diurnal habits, extensible dewlap in males, expanded digital pads, and granular scales on the dorsum and belly.3 The Charm Anole (Anolis gracilipes) can be distinguished from the other species of Anolis with which it co-occurs based on coloration and dewlap pattern.4 The dorsum is dark-brown with silver to bronze inverted chevrons, the flanks are greenish, and there is a yellow-green mark under the eye and on the upper lip; females may have a pale vertebral stripe with black edges.5,6 The dewlap is bright orange with rows of greenish scales.4 Two Chocoan anoles similar to A. gracilipes in dewlap coloration are A. fraseri and A. binotatus. Anolis fraseri is larger in body size and has an elevated dorsal crest.4,7 Anolis binotatus has a white ventrolateral stripe and an orange-red (instead of saffron yellow) dewlap.

Figure showing variation among individuals of Anolis gracilipes

Figure 1: Individuals of Anolis gracilipes from Ecuador: Milpe Bird Sanctuary, Pichincha province (); Canandé Reserve, Esmeraldas province (); Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve, Esmeraldas province (). j=juvenile.

Natural history: Anolis gracilipes is a common diurnal lizard that inhabits old-growth to moderately disturbed evergreen forests4,8 as well as human-modified environments such as clearings, forest remnants along streams, and rural gardens.2,9 Charm Anoles are included in the “grass-bush” anole ecomorph because they primarily use the undergrowth and herbaceous forest strata 0–2.5 m above the ground, and because they have a small body (~5 cm snout-vent-length), long-tail (>1.5–2 SVL), and long legs (>0.75 SVL).9,10 They generally use perches around 1.5 cm in diameter,9 but may also forage on the forest floor.2,4 These lizards are primarily active during sunny or cloudy days when the ambient temperature is 18.7–25.4 °C.9 At night, they roost on twigs, stems, ferns, or fragile leaves 20–205 cm above the ground and usually near their daytime perches.2,4 This behavior allows them to detect potential predators by sensing the vibration on the perch, to which they respond by jumping and disappearing into the dark.2 Charm Anoles rely primarily on their camouflage to avoid predation, but they can also jump to the ground and swiftly run away.2 There is an unpublished photographic record of a Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium nubicola) preying upon an individual of this species.2 Anolis gracilipes is a primarily insectivorous predator. Individuals feed mainly on insects of the order Hemiptera, Hymenoptera, Orthoptera, and Coleoptera, but also include mollusks, isopods, insect larvae, spiders, and seeds in their diet.9 Anoles in general lay clutches of one egg,11,12 but the clutch size and nesting sites of A. gracilipes are not known.

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Conservation: Least Concern Believed to be safe from extinction given current circumstances..13 Anolis gracilipes is listed in this category given its wide distribution, presence in protected areas, and presumed large stable populations.13 Therefore, the species is considered to be facing no major immediate extinction threats. However, in the Pacific lowlands of northwestern Ecuador, much (~56%)14 of the species’ habitat has been lost due to deforestation caused by rural-urban development and the expansion of the agricultural frontier.15,16 For this reason, A. gracilipes may qualify for a threatened category at the national level if the habitat loss continues.

Distribution: Anolis gracilipes occurs in the Chocoan lowlands and adjacent Andean foothills from western Colombia to Cotopaxi province in west-central Ecuador. This species has been recorded at elevations between 9 and 1162 m (Fig. 2).

Distribution of Anolis gracilipes in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Anolis gracilipes in Ecuador. The star corresponds to the type locality: Paramba, Imbabura province. See Appendix 1 for a complete list of the presence localities included in the map.

Etymology: The generic name Anolis is thought to have originated from Cariban languages, specifically from the word anoli, which is the name Arawak peoples may have used to refer to this group of lizards.17 The specific epithet gracilipes, which comes from the Latin words gracilis (=slender) and pedis (=foot),18 refers to the feebly dilated digits of this anole.5

See it in the wild: Charm Anoles are usually found in closed-canopy situations rather than in open or semi-open areas. In Ecuador, the best localities to find lizards of this species are Otongachi Reserve, Bilsa Biological Reserve, and Milpe Bird Sanctuary. These lizards can be seen perching on leaves and small twigs along forest trails during the night.

Special thanks to Darcy Barry for symbolically adopting the Charm Anole and helping bring the Reptiles of Ecuador book project to life.

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Authors: Angie Tovar-OrtizaAffiliation: Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia. and Alejandro ArteagabAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

Photographer: Jose VieiracAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,dAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Tovar-Ortiz A, Arteaga A (2022) Charm Anole (Anolis gracilipes). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/CMJH5765

Literature cited:

  1. Williams EE, Rand H, Rand AS, O’Hara RJ (1995) A computer approach to the comparision and identification of species in difficult taxonomic groups. Breviora 502: 1–47.
  2. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  3. Peters JA, Donoso-Barros R (1970) Catalogue of the Neotropical Squamata: part II, lizards and amphisbaenians. Bulletin of the United States National Museum, Washington, D.C., 293 pp.
  4. Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Guayasamin JM (2013) The amphibians and reptiles of Mindo. Universidad Tecnológica Indoamérica, Quito, 257 pp.
  5. Boulenger GA (1898) An account of the reptiles and batrachians collected by Mr. Rosenberg in western Ecuador. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 9: 107–126.
  6. Yánez-Muñoz M, Meza-Ramos P, Ramírez S, Reyes-Puig J, Oyagata L (2009) Anfibios y reptiles del Distrito Metropolitano de Quito (DMQ). In: Yánez-Muñoz MH, Moreno-Cárdenas PA, Mena-Valenzuela P (Eds) Guía de campo de los pequeños vertebrados del Distrito Metropolitano de Quito (DMQ). Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales (MECN), Quito, 9–52.
  7. Ayala-Varela F, Valverde S, Poe S, Narváez AE, Yánez- Muñoz MH, Torres-Carvajal O (2021) A new giant anole (Squamata: Iguanidae: Dactyloinae) from southwestern Ecuador. Zootaxa 4991: 295–317. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4991.2.4
  8. Ortega-Andrade HM, Bermingham J, Aulestia C, Paucar C (2010) Herpetofauna of the Bilsa Biological Station, province of Esmeraldas, Ecuador. Check List 6: 119–154. DOI: 10.15560/6.1.119
  9. Boada Viteri EA (2015) Ecología de una comunidad de lagartijas del género Anolis (Iguanidae: Dactyloinae) de un bosque pie-montano del Ecuador occidental. BSc thesis, Quito, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, 111 pp.
  10. Moreno-Arias R, Velasco JA, Urbina Cardona J, Cárdenas-Arévalo G, Medina Rangel G, Gutiérrez Cárdenas P, Olaya-Rodriguez M, Noguera-Urbano E (2021) Atlas de la biodiversidad de Colombia. Anolis. Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt, Bogotá, 72 pp.
  11. Blackburn D (1999) Viviparity and oviparity: evolution and reproductive strategies. In: Knobil E, Neill JD (Eds) Encyclopedia of Reproduction. Academic Press, London, 994–1003.
  12. Ayala-Varela F (2004) Revisión taxonómica y de variación geográfica de las especies de Anolis (Sauria: Polychrotidae) del Oriente Ecuatoriano. BSc thesis, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, 204 pp.
  13. Cisneros-Heredia DF, Castañeda MR, Bolívar W, Velasco J (2020) Anolis gracilipes. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T44577372A44577381.en
  14. MAE (2012) Línea base de deforestación del Ecuador continental. Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador, Quito, 30 pp.
  15. Miyata KI (2013) Studies on the ecology and population biology of little known Ecuadorian anoles. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 161: 45–78.
  16. Cisneros-Heredia DF (2006) Distribution and ecology of the western Ecuador frog Leptodactylus labrosus (Amphibia: Anura: Leptodactylidae). Zoological Research 27: 234–255.
  17. Allsopp R (1996) Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 776 pp.
  18. Brown RW (1956) Composition of scientific words. Smithsonian Books, Washington D.C., 882 pp.

Appendix 1: Locality data used to create the distribution map of Anolis gracilipes in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used. Asterisk (*) indicates type locality.

ColombiaNariñoReserva Natural El PangániNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorCarchiCasa RivaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorCarchiChical, 10 km W ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorCarchiChical, 5 km W ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorCarchiChinambíReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorCarchiRío MiraMCZ 70223; VertNet
EcuadorCarchiSendero AwáYanez-Muñoz 2009
EcuadorCotopaxiEl Jardín de los SueñosPhoto by Christophe Pellet
EcuadorCotopaxiGuasagandaArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorCotopaxiGuasaganda, 4.4 km NW ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorCotopaxiVía Pucayacu–SigchosArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasAlto TamboArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasAmbientes cercanos terminal del OCPValencia & Garzón 2011
EcuadorEsmeraldasBilsa Biological StationOrtega-Andrade et al. 2010
EcuadorEsmeraldasBosque Integral OtokikiArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasCabeceras de BilsaAlmendariz & Carr 2007
EcuadorEsmeraldasCachabiArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasCanandé Biological ReserveThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorEsmeraldasChipaVázquez et al. 2005
EcuadorEsmeraldasCresta San FranciscoArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasCupaArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasDurangoArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasItapoa ReserveReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasLa PedorreraArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasLa TolaArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasLaguna de CubeArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasLas MareasiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasLote RoseroReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasLote SalvadoresThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorEsmeraldasMompicheiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasMonte SaínoArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorEsmeraldasPlaya de OroiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasQuinindéMCZ 176922; VertNet
EcuadorEsmeraldasTundaloma LodgeReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorImbaburaBosque Protector Los CedrosLos Cedros Reserve 2022
EcuadorImbaburaCielo Verde, 4 km NW ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorImbaburaLitaUSNM 287909; VertNet
EcuadorImbaburaParamba*Boulenger 1898
EcuadorImbaburaReserva 7 CascadasArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorLos RíosCentro Científico Río PalenqueMiyata 1976
EcuadorLos RíosSanta María del Toachi, 4 km E ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPichinchaAlluriquínMCZ 176921; VertNet
EcuadorPichinchaAlto Río ToachiUSNM 234689; VertNet
EcuadorPichinchaEl Abrazo del ÁrbolArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorPichinchaGranja Las PalmerasiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPichinchaHostería Selva VirgenReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorPichinchaKapari Lodge (stream)Reptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorPichinchaLas PalmasMCZ 127696; VertNet
EcuadorPichinchaMashpi lodgeReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorPichinchaMilpe Bird SanctuaryThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorPichinchaMindo, 28 km W ofArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorPichinchaNanegal, 2 km N ofGBIF
EcuadorPichinchaPuerto QuitoArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorPichinchaRío BlancoUSNM 234692; VertNet
EcuadorPichinchaRío CaoniArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorPichinchaSan Miguel de los BancosArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorPichinchaTantiArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasCentinelaUSNM 285678; VertNet
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasEl Esfuerzo, 2 km E ofMCZ 171862; VertNet
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasFinca GloriaArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasHacienda EspinosaCAS 13271; VertNet
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasJoe Ramsey farmUSNM 234687; VertNet
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasLa Concordia, 8 km SE ofUSNM 234688; VertNet
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasLa FloridaMCZ 175915; VertNet
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasLa Florida, 5 km W ofArteaga et al. 2013
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasReserva OtongachiReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasRío BabaUIMNH 66141; collection database
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasSanto Domingo de los ColoradosICN 3993; VertNet
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasSanto Domingo de los Colorados, 5 km W ofUSNM 234686; VertNet
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasSanto Domingo de los Colorados, 9 km N ofKU 298420; VertNet
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasTinalandiaMCZ 144301; VertNet