Published August 23, 2023. Open access.

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Lynch’s Anole (Anolis lynchi)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Anolidae | Anolis lynchi

English common name: Lynch’s Anole.

Spanish common name: Anolis de Lynch.

Recognition: ♂♂ 18.0 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=6.2 cm. ♀♀ 16.6 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=5.9 cm..1 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. The Lynch’s Anole (Anolis lynchi) can be distinguished from other co-occurring anoles based on dewlap and dorsum coloration. The dewlap, which is medium-sized and colored orange, extends from just below the midpoint of the orbit to a point located beneath the axilla.1 The dorsum is orangish brown with a dark postocular-dorsolateral stripe bordered below by a dingy white line (Fig. 1). Individuals of A. granuliceps differ from those of A. lynchi by having a broader dorsolateral stripe and a much smaller yellow dewlap in males.2

Figure showing variation among individuals of Anolis lynchi

Figure 1: Individuals of Anolis lynchi from Ecuador: FCAT Reserve, Esmeraldas province (); Bosque Protector La Perla, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas province (); Mashpi Reserve, Pichincha province (). j=juvenile.

Natural history: Anolis lynchi is an uncommon anole that inhabits stream-side vegetation inside old-growth to moderately disturbed rainforests.14 Lynch’s Anoles are diurnal, semi-aquatic, and included in the “ground-trunk” anole ecomorph.4,5 They forage on leaf-litter, logs, or on low herbaceous vegetation.6 They also dwell in streams, rocky creek beds,3 and in the spray zone of small waterfalls,7 frequently diving for refuge or food.8 While submerged, these lizards display a unique ability for underwater “rebreathing.” They form a bubble over their dorsal or lateral head surfaces, allowing them to re-breathe this trapped air.8 At night, they sleep at ground level in leaf-litter, among fallen trunks, or roost on leaves, ferns, and thin twigs and branches 0.2–2 m above the forest floor or directly above streams.1,3,6 Their preference for fragile perches serves the purpose of predator detection; they sense vibrations on these perches, responding with quick jumps to vanish into the darkness. Lynch’s Anoles rely primarily on their “dry leaf” camouflage to evade detection, thus they tend to avoid perching on brightly green leaves during daylight. While anole species in general lay clutches of one egg at a time,9,10 specific details about clutch size and nesting sites for A. lynchi remain unknown.

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Conservation: Near Threatened Not currently at risk of extinction, but requires some level of management to maintain healthy populations.. The NT status is proposed instead of the current LC categorization11 because the updated estimated extent of occurrence spans less than 20,000 km2 (Fig. 2). The species faces mounting habitat pressures from deforestation, notably driven by the transformation of rainforests into palm oil plantations.11 Approximately 64% of the species’ potential distribution area has already been converted into pastures and agricultural fields.12,13 Furthermore, the area experiences an annual loss of an additional 254 km2 of forest cover. The once-forested type locality now lies extensively deforested, rendering the survival of the species there unlikely. Thankfully, periodic recordings of A. lynchi occur within national parks and private reserves.

Distribution: Anolis lynchi is native to an estimated area of 19,972 km2 in the Chocoan lowlands and adjacent Andean foothills of southwestern Colombia and northwestern Ecuador (Fig. 2).

Distribution of Anolis lynchi in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Anolis lynchi in Ecuador. The star corresponds to the type locality: Santo Domingo de los Colorados, Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas 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.14 The specific epithet lynchi honors American herpetologist John Lynch, in recognition of his innumerable excursions into the Ecuadorian night, which resulted in thousands of herpetological specimens.1

See it in the wild: Lynch’s Anoles primarily inhabit closed-canopy riparian environments. In Ecuador, prime locations for encountering these lizards include the Bilsa Biological Reserve, FCAT Reserve, and Bosque Protector La Perla. While they are active during the day, it’s more convenient to find them at night when they rest on leaves and small twigs along forest creeks. Their pale nocturnal coloration stands out against the darkness when illuminated with a flashlight.

Author: Alejandro ArteagaaAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

Photographer: Jose VieirabAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,cAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Arteaga A (2023) Lynch’s Anole (Anolis lynchi). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/DZMV3685

Literature cited:

  1. Miyata K (1985) A new Anolis of the lionotus group from northwestern Ecuador and southwestern Colombia (Sauria: Iguanidae). Breviora 481: 1–13.
  2. 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.
  3. MECN (2010) Serie herpetofauna del Ecuador: El Chocó esmeraldeño. Museo Ecuatoriano de Ciencias Naturales, Quito, 232 pp.
  4. 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.
  5. Moreno-Arias RA, Calderón-Espinosa ML (2015) Patterns of morphological diversification of mainland Anolis lizards from northwestern South America. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 176: 1–16. DOI: 10.1111/zoj.12325
  6. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  7. Photo by Christophe Pellet.
  8. Boccia CK, Swierk L, Ayala-Varela FP, Boccia J, Borges IL, Estupiñán CA, Martin AM, Martínez-Grimaldo RE, Ovalle S, Senthivasan S, Toyama KS, Castañeda MR, García A, Glor RE, Mahler DL (2021) Repeated evolution of underwater rebreathing in diving Anolis lizards. Current Biology 31: 2947–2954. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.04.040
  9. Blackburn D (1999) Viviparity and oviparity: evolution and reproductive strategies. In: Knobil E, Neill JD (Eds) Encyclopedia of Reproduction. Academic Press, London, 994–1003.
  10. 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.
  11. Castro F, Castañeda MR, Mayer GC (2020) Anolis lynchi. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2020-3.RLTS.T178604A18967012.en
  12. MAE (2012) Línea base de deforestación del Ecuador continental. Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador, Quito, 30 pp.
  13. IDEAM (2014) Mapa de cobertura de la tierra adaptada para Colombia.
  14. Allsopp R (1996) Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 776 pp.

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

ColombiaNariñoJuníniNaturalist; photo examined
ColombiaNariñoReserva Natural El PangániNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorCotopaxiBosque Privado El Jardín de los SueñosiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasBilsa Biological ReserveReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasBosque Protector La PerlaThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorEsmeraldasCabeceras del Río TóngoraAyala-Varela & Carvajal-Campos 2022
EcuadorEsmeraldasCanandé Biological ReserveReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasEl Placer, 2 km W ofMiyata 1985
EcuadorEsmeraldasHacienda Equinox, 2 km S ofUSNM 234700; examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasItapoa ReserveReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasLote SalvadoresThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorEsmeraldasQuinindéUSNM 234716; examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasReserva Ecológica Mache-ChinduliNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorEsmeraldasRío CuchubíAyala-Varela & Carvajal-Campos 2022
EcuadorImbaburaRío Aguas VerdesAyala-Varela & Carvajal-Campos 2022
EcuadorImbaburaRío BolaniguasUSNM 234695; VertNet
EcuadorPichinchaEl Chalpi-SaguangalCarrera et al. 2009
EcuadorPichinchaFinca Selva VirgenReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorPichinchaGanaderos OrensesiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPichinchaMashpi ReserveThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorPichinchaMonterreal Rainforest EcolodgeBoccia et al. 2021
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasEl Esfuerzo, 6 km ESE ofMCZ 171867; VertNet
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasSanto Domingo de los Colorados*Miyata 1985