Published February 20, 2022. Updated October 29, 2023. Open access.

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Podocarpus Anole (Anolis podocarpus)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Anolidae | Anolis podocarpus

English common name: Podocarpus Anole.

Spanish common name: Anolis del Podocarpus.

Recognition: ♂♂ 27.9 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=9.6 cm. ♀♀ 30.8 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=8.9 cm..1 Anoles are easily distinguishable from other lizards by their diurnal habits, extensible dewlap in males (can be present in females also), expanded digital pads, and granular scales on the dorsum and belly.2,3 The Podocarpus Anole (Anolis podocarpus) can be identified from other co-occurring anoles based on its large body size, dorsal coloration, and dewlap pattern. Notably, its dorsum is olive-green with dark brown markings and reticulations, reminiscent of moss patterns. The iris is a striking bluish-turquoise and the tongue is dark blue.1 The dewlap in adult males is pinkish brown; in females, dark violet with yellow scales; in juveniles, orange-red with white scales.1 The anole that bears the closest resemblance to A. podocarpus is A. fitchi, a northern species that has a dark yellowish green dewlap.1 The dewlap color in males of A. soinii and A. lososi, the two anoles that may be found living alongside A. podocarpus, is uniformly dingy white.4

Figure showing variation among individuals of Anolis podocarpus

Figure 1: Individuals of Anolis podocarpus from Romerillos Alto, Zamora Chinchipe province, Ecuador. j=juvenile.

Natural history: Anolis podocarpus is a diurnal and arboreal lizard that can be abundant in old-growth to moderately disturbed cloud forests, evergreen montane forests, and gallery forests close to pastures.5 Most individuals of this species have been found at night, sleeping horizontally on ferns, leaves (family Araceae and Musaceae), and branches 0.3–4.3 m above the ground, especially along streams and ravines.1,5 This species is oviparous. In captivity, one adult female laid one egg on August 2002, and two very small juveniles were recorded on March 1998 and August 2002.6 Individuals of A. podocarpus are parasitized by acari and ticks.6

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Conservation: Near Threatened Not currently at risk of extinction, but requires some level of management to maintain healthy populations.. Anolis podocarpus is proposed to be included in this category, instead of Vulnerable,7 following UICN criteria.8 Although it has been recorded in less than 10 localities and has a restricted distribution, the species occurs over an area that retains the majority (~82%) of its vegetation cover (Fig. 2).9 Most of the records of A. podocarpus are in protected areas, including Parque Nacional Podocarpus, Refugio de Vida Silvestre El Zarza, Reserva Biológica Cerro Plateado, and Bosque Protector Alto Nangaritza.1,10 However, populations outside protected areas are under threat from large-scale gold mining operations.7

Distribution: Anolis podocarpus is endemic to a area of approximately 1,727 km 2 in the southeastern slopes of the Andes in Ecuador along the upper basin of the Zamora River, Zamora Chinchipe province (Fig. 2).

Distribution of Anolis podocarpus in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Anolis podocarpus in Ecuador. The star corresponds to the type locality: Romerillos Alto. 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.11 The specific epithet podocarpus, which comes from the Greek words podos (=foot) and karpos (=fruit), refers to the Podocarpus tree.1 The Podocarpus National Park is named after the tree and is the general area where this species of anole was discovered.6

See it in the wild: Podocarpus Anoles can be located with about 50% certainty during a short night hike along forested streams in protected areas such as Parque Nacional Podocarpus, Refugio de Vida Silvestre El Zarza, and Bosque Protector Alto Nangaritza. Although these lizards are active during the day, they are more easily located at night, as they will be roosting on small twigs where their bright whitish bellies stand out when lit with a flashlight.

Author: Fernanda GordonaAffiliation: Departamento de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador.

Editor: Alejandro ArteagabAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

Photographers: Jose VieiracAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,dAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador. and Alejandro ArteagabAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Gordon F (2022) Podocarpus Anole (Anolis podocarpus). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/NNDX7699

Literature cited:

  1. Ayala-Varela F, Torres-Carvajal O (2010) A new species of dactyloid anole (Iguanidae, Polychrotinae, Anolis) from the southeastern slopes of the Andes of Ecuador. ZooKeys 53: 59–73. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.53.456
  2. 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.
  3. Castañeda MR, de Queiroz K (2013) Phylogeny of the Dactyloa clade of Anolis lizards: new insights from combining morphological and molecular data. Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology 160: 345–398. DOI: 10.3099/0027-4100-160.7.345
  4. Torres-Carvajal O, Ayala-Varela FP, Lobos SE, Poe S, Narváez AE (2017) Two new Andean species of Anolis lizard (Iguanidae: Dactyloinae) from southern Ecuador. Journal of Natural History 52: 1067–1089. DOI: 10.1080/00222933.2017.1391343
  5. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  6. 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.
  7. Almendáriz A, Brito J, Valencia J, Cisneros-Heredia DF (2019) Anolis podocarpus. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-2.RLTS.T50950405A50950408.en
  8. IUCN (2001) IUCN Red List categories and criteria: Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland and Cambridge, 30 pp.
  9. MAE (2012) Línea base de deforestación del Ecuador continental. Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador, Quito, 30 pp.
  10. Almendáriz A, Simmons JE, Brito J, Vaca-Guerrero J (2014) Overview of the herpetofauna of the unexplored Cordillera del Cóndor of Ecuador. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 8: 45–64.
  11. 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 podocarpus in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used. Asterisk (*) indicates type locality.

EcuadorZamora ChinchipeAlto MachinazaAlmendariz et al. 2014
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeCampamento San AntonioAyala-Varela & Torres-Carvajal 2010
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeNumbamiAyala-Varela & Torres-Carvajal 2010
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeReserva Biológica Cerro PlateadoiNaturalist
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeUpper basin of Río CurintzaAyala-Varela & Torres-Carvajal 2010
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeBosque Protector Alto NangaritzaiNaturalist
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeBuffer zone of El Zarza Wildlife RefugeiNaturalist
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeComunidad el Zarza, 6 km NE ofiNaturalist
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeEl Zarza Forest ReserveiNaturalist
EcuadorZamora ChinchipeRomerillos Alto*Ayala-Varela & Torres-Carvajal 2010