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Anolis carolinensis VOIGT, 1832

IUCN Red List - Anolis carolinensis - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaAnolidae, Iguania, Sauria, Squamata (lizards)
Common NamesE: North American Green Anole, Green anole
S: Anolis Verde
G: Rotkehlanolis 
SynonymAnolius carolinensis VOIGT in CUVIER & VOIGT 1832: 71
Lacerta principalis LINNAEUS 1758 (fide DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1837: 121)
Ameiua bullaris MEYER 1795: 29 (error typographicus)
Anolis bullaris — DAUDIN 1802: 69 (part.)
Agama bullaris — LINK 1807: 58
Agama strumosa — LINK 1807: 59
Anolis strumosa — HARLAN 1835: 143
Anolis Carolinensis — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1837: 120
Anolis podargicus RICHARDSON 1837: 200 (part.)
Dactyloa (Ctenocercus) carolinensis — FITZINGER 1843: 68
Anolis principalis — GRAY 1845: 202
Anolis carolinensis — HALLOWELL 1856: 232
Anolis baccatus BOCOURT 1873: 59
Anolius carolinensis — MÜLLER 1880
Anolis baccatus — BOULENGER 1885: 54
Anolis carolinensis — BOULENGER 1885: 43
Anolis principalis — LOENNBERG 1894
Anolis baccatus — SMITH & TAYLOR 1950
Anolis baccatus — FITCH & HENDERSON 1973: 127
Anolis carolinensis seminolus VANCE 1991: 75
Norops baccatus — LINER 1994
Anolis carolinensis — LINER 1994
Anolis carolinensis — MCKEOWN 1996
Norops baccatus — NICHOLSON 2002
Anolis carolinensis — NICHOLSON et al. 2005
Anolis baccatus — LINER 2007
Anolis carolinensis seminolus — COLLINS & TAGGART 2009
Anolis carolinensis seminolis [sic] — NICHOLSON et al. 2012
Anolis carolinensis seminolus — CROTHER et al. 2012
Anolis carolinensis — NICHOLSON et al. 2012
Anolis carolinensis — NICHOLSON et al. 2018
Anolis carolinensis seminolis — NICHOLSON et al. 2018 (in error)
Anolis carolinensis — HEIMES 2022 
DistributionUSA (E Texas, SE Oklahoma, S Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, SE Tennessee, SE Virginia), Mexico (incl. Tamaulipas),
Bahamas, Grand Cayman Islands (HR 33: 321), Anguilla (HR 32: 118), Cuba (Wegener et al. 2019)

Introduced to Hawaii (fide MCKEOWN 1996) and California.
Introduced to Japan (Chichizima Is. and Hahazima Is. of Ogasawara Islands.And Okinawazima Is.) (Mayer & Lazell 2021)
Introduced to Micronesia and Guam (G. Rodda, pers. comm., 13 March 2016).
May have been introduced to Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain (M. Lopez-Darias, Anole Annals July 20, 2016, Stroud et al. 2016)
Introduced to Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), fide Hileman et al. 2020.

baccatus: Mexico; Type locality: Mexico;

seminolus: USA (Florida); Type locality: 6.8 miles WNW of Murdock, Sarasota County, Florida.  
Reproductionoviparous<br /><br />Hybridization: Anolis porcatus appears to hybridize with A. carolinensis in Florida (T. Hagey, Anole Annals 2016, Wegener et al. 2019). 
TypesNeotype: NCSM 93545 (North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences); was ChR 862 (Charleston Museum), designated by Vance 1991, but collection was later moved to NCSM.
Holotype: MVZ (originally as UCMZ) 53793 [seminolus]
Holotype: MNHN 1126 [baccatus]
Synypes: MCZ 5955, 5956 [principalis] 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus; Anolis s.s.): Support for this genus is provided by 47 apomorphies including seven morphological features and 40 molecular ones. There are two unequivocal morphological features: mental scale completely divided (26: a to z); and supratemporal processes leave supraocciptal exposed above (61: z to a). There are 23 unequivocal molecular apomorphies (see Appendix II, from NICHOLSON et al. 2012: 33). 
CommentSynonymy: partly after VANCE 1991. BOULENGER 1885 listed A. porcatus as synonym of A. carolinensis. Andersson 1900: 10 stated that Linnaeus’ “Lacerta principalis” is NOT A. carolinensis, as “the tibia is too long” to be this species. A specimen of A. baccatus reported from Sepaquite, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala by Barbour 1934: 124 is actually A. sericeus (fide Stuart, cited in SMITH & TAYLOR 1950: 62). ANDERSSON states that the Lacerta principalis of LINNAEUS 1758 is not Anolis carolinensis. Anolis cooperi BAIRD 1858 is a nomen dubium fide Vance, cited in Smith 1976: 252 (Synopsis VII).

Nomenclature: the family that contains Anolis needs to be called Anolidae, despite the fact that other names have been proposed previously (especially Dactyloidae). See de Queiroz 2022 for a discussion.

Subspecies: VANCE 1991 described Anolis carolinensis seminolus, but more recent (genetic) studies didn’t find a clear overlap between mrophological seminolus and genetically defined populations, hence Crother et al. 2017 and others do not recognize subspecies within A. carolinensis.

Similar species: A. porcatus, A. smaragdinus; these species are morphologically indistinguishable from A. carolinensis, at least in preserved specimens. However, A. smaragdinus is genetically clearly distinct from carolinensis, while porcatus is very similar (but see Wegener et al. 2019 for genetic differences).

Genetics: In July 2005, the scientific community overwhelmingly chose the green anole lizard, Anolis carolinensis, as its first target species for reptilian genome sequencing, with the American alligator, garter snake and/or painted turtle to follow ( (MODI & CREWS 2005). The genome sequence has been completed in 2011 (Alföldi et al. 2011). Partial genetic content of the Z chromosome is known in colubrids and viperids, and is highly syntenic to chromosome 6 (ACA6) of Anlis carolinensis (”ACA”, Rovatsos et al. 2015).

Evolution: On small islands in Florida, we found that the lizard Anolis carolinensis moved to higher perches following invasion by Anolis sagrei and, in response, adaptively evolved larger toepads after only 20 generations (Stuart et al. 2014). Feiner et al. 2020 studied skeletal evolution of 95 species of Antillean Anolis.

Ecology: The presence of invasive A. sagrei resulted in a 17-fold upward shift in vertical niche of A. carolinensis—an 8.3 m shift in median perch height, at least in Gainesville, FL (Borden et al. 2021).

Sexual dimorphism: the carolinensis and hendersoni clades are the most extreme both in male facial elongation and the degree of sexual dimorphism (Sanger et al. 2013).

Distribution: See maps in Vance 1991, Palmer & Braswell 1995: 116 (USA: Map 23). Probably erroneously reported from Belize. A single specimen (UF 23924) has been collected from Half Moon Cay (Belize), and Lee 1996 reports that this specimen indeed looks like A. carolinensis. Lee (2000) reports that efforts to find additional carolinensis on Half Moon Cay (Belize) have not been successful. However, Anolis allisoni is known from Belize (especially Half Moon Cay), and is very similar (and very closely related) to carolinensis. Not on Cuba (L. Mahler, pers. comm.). There are questionable records from SE Virginia (VANCE 1991).
In Japan, the green anole Anolis carolinensis invaded the Ogasawara Islands in 1960’s and Okinawa Island in 1980’s. Phylogenetic analysis shows that the invader A. carolinensis originated in the western part of the Gulf Coast and inland areas of the United States. Interestingly, all of the invaded A. carolinensis in Ogasawara, Okinawa and Hawaii originated from the Gulf Coast and inland areas of the United States (Suzuki-Ohno et al. 2017). Western Cuban populations of A. porcatus are actually A. carolinensis (Wegener et al, 2019). Eastern Cuban populations remain A. porcatus but are actually more closely related to A. allisoni than A. carolinensis.

Species group: Anolis carolinensis species group (fide NICHOLSON et al. 2012).

Type species: Anolis bullaris DAUDIN 1802: 69 is the type species of the genus Anolis DAUDIN 1802 (fide SMITH & TAYLOR 1950: 56). Note however, that PETERS et al. 1970: 43 give Anolis bullaris Latreille as type species). See also Smith 1963, Sabrosky 1983 and Stimson & Underwood 1983 for a discussion of the type species for Anolis.

Key: for a key to (mainland) species of Anolis go to the lucid link below.

Phylogenetics (genus). For a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of anoles see Poe et al. 2017, 2018 and Román-Palacios et al. 2018. Poe et al. proposed several new clade names, e.g. Trachypilus, Placopsis, Digilimbus, Schmidtanolis etc.

Karyotype: 2n=36, XY (males) or XX (females) (Giovannotti et al. 2016)

Thermobiology: Salazar et al. 2019 collected data on heat tolerance, body temperature, and cold tolerance for 120 species of anoles and how these traits evolved in island to mainland transitions. 
EtymologyNamed after the Carolinas where the species was found. A. c. seminolus has been named after the Seminole Indians of Florida.

The genus name Anolis is from the French l’anole, which is derived from anoli (or anolis) or anaoli (or anoali), aboriginal West Indian words meaning ‘‘lizard’’ (see Nicholson et al., 2012, for more information on the origin of Anolis). Anolis is masculine (Stimson & Underwood 1983). 
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