Eminent anole researcher Robin Andrews was acknowledged by the Herpetologists’ League with the 2021 Distinguished Herpetologist Award for her contributions to advancing scientific and public understanding of herpetology via analysis, educating, and repair. Her essay in Herpetologica chronicles the unimaginable, 50-year-long analysis program she, Stan Rand and others have performed on Anolis apletothallus on Barro Colorado Island in Panama.
Right here’s the Summary:
I current the outcomes of fifty yr (1971–2020) of annual censuses of Anolis apletophallus on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. The principle goals have been to evaluate why abundance in end-of-the-year censuses different considerably from yr to yr and why it declined over time. Abundance was negatively correlated with annual rainfall, 90% of which happens within the moist season when eggs are laid. Lizard abundance is not directly linked to rainfall via the interplay between Anolis eggs and their main predator, Solenopsis ants. Extra eggs are killed by ants when rainfall is comparatively excessive as a result of ants are extra lively and encounter extra eggs than when rainfall is comparatively low. Whereas rainfall accounts for variability in abundance, it has not modified over time and thus could not account for the general decline in abundance. Mannequin number of AICc analyses recognized two different elements correlated with abundance. Abundance was positively correlated with the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) lagged by 1 yr. Excessive SOI (and excessive abundance) is related to cool and moist La Niña circumstances and low values with dry and heat El Niño circumstances. The prediction that low abundance is related to dry and heat El Niño circumstances (low SOI) conflicts with the destructive correlation between abundance and rainfall the place low abundance is related to excessive rainfall. Furthermore, abundance was negatively correlated with Tmin (minimal annual temperature). The mechanism by which growing Tmin through the census interval is linked to declining abundance is unknown. Three climatic elements are correlated with lizard abundance, however none of them clarify why abundance has declined. A 3rd goal was to look at the connection between species richness and species dominance of Anolis communities with respect to rainfall patterns. Tropical forests sometimes have a maximal richness of seven–8 species. Our examine websites in Panama have excessive species richness, however Anolis apletophallus people made up 96% of all information, an surprising degree of species dominance. Comparisons amongst websites counsel that the variety of Anolis species in a group is said to annual rainfall, and dominance is said to seasonality of rainfall. Dry forests have few Anolis species and moist forests have as many as 7–8 species. Forests with quick moist seasons (months with .100 mm rainfall) have a excessive probability that people of 1 species will dominate the group.
Because the summary reveals, the paper summarizes a unprecedented quantity of fascinating analysis. However there are additionally some nice tales. That is my favourite:
My journey to Panama to conduct the Christmas lizard rely with Stan was usually a really particular and far anticipated annual deal with. One such yr, nevertheless, was far completely different from the deal with I had anticipated. I had taken my Boston Whaler, on what was to have been a fast journey to our distant AVA website to exchange fallen flagging tape that marked transects. This was a ship journey of some 9 km from the BCI boat dock on the canal (northeastern) aspect of the island to the AVA boat tie up on the again (southwestern) aspect of the island. My mission completed, I left AVA midafternoon and was near the half-way level when the motor of the Boston Whaler give up. Not solely was I alone on the again aspect of BCI, however the sturdy dry season wind was pushing the boat away from BCI. To cease the boat from drifting farther, I used its single oar to steer it to the closest channel marker the place I tied up. I had faint hopes of rescue as a result of boat visitors was rare; the almost definitely situation was that I’d sit within the boat till dusk when the wind would die down and I may begin to paddle. That is precisely what occurred. Progress round BCI was very gradual as a result of I needed to sit on the prow of the Whaler and pull the boat ahead with the oar whereas alternating strokes from one aspect of the boat to the opposite to keep up a considerably straight course. It was thus fairly darkish after I noticed the primary of many waves of enormous, low-flying plane cross overhead. I heard the regular drone of the air visitors and felt extraordinarily remoted in my small boat at midnight. I didn’t know till the subsequent day that, within the early hours of 20 December, I witnessed the start of the 1989 US invasion of Panama!
It was effectively after midnight when, to my nice aid, I used to be intercepted by BCI guards on their common island patrol simply as I noticed the buoy lights of the canal; the guards towed me the final a number of kilometers of what had been a bodily and mentally difficult journey. The following day BCI was deemed unsafe and all scientists, guards, cooks (and their meals provides), and so forth. have been ordered to go away the island by the Smithsonian. For the primary time in its historical past as a nature reserve, the island’s biota was left to its personal units. All of the island boats have been commandeered to take the residents of BCI to Gamboa (Fig. 3), one of many preliminary targets for US army motion. After we have been allowed exterior, we visited the stays of a Panama Protection Forces constructing and noticed what automated rifle hearth may do to the easy wood partitions and flooring of normal situation Panama Canal Firm buildings. That reminiscence turned particularly vivid on that night when our group was taking shelter within the concrete stairwell of simply such a constructing due to close by sniper hearth. Panama Metropolis and rural areas have been so chaotic that the Panamanian evacuees couldn’t go dwelling to their households, not even to know, in some instances, in the event that they have been protected. Regardless of these challenges, the cooks continued to supply nice meals for us, together with a turkey dinner on Christmas Day. On the finish ofDecember, we have been allowed to return to BCI. The Anolis group accomplished the scheduled censusing of 4 websites, however what remained of my trip time was too quick to conduct deliberate experimental research. I used to be on the primary industrial flight to the US after the invasion, and, for the very first time, I used to be pleased to go away Panama.