Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Lizzie Burden

From the Florida Sun-Sentinel comes this report about an invasive lizard small enough to escape the attention Florida lavishes on its invasive reptilian cousins (see previous ISW posts about burmese pythons, iguanas, etc.). The northern curlytail lizard (Leiocephalus carinatus armouri) was brought from the Bahamas to an island off the coast of Florida back in the 1940s, as a "natural" insect control for sugar cane. Turns out they are voracious little predators, grabbing insects that other lizards are stalking, and even making meals out of said slower, native lizards.

Now thousands of curlytails can be found in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, and seem to do quite well in urban ecosystems (another reason they won't get as much attention as other invaders found in more natural habitats). Scientists at local universities are currently studying the lizards to learn more about their adapted behavior, such as sunning themselves on cars. Perhaps the curlytails will keep the brown anoles in check?

Interested readers may want to check out this paper (.pdf):

Meshaka et al. 2005. "The Geographically Contiguous and Expanding Coastal Range of the Northern Curlytail Lizard (Leiocephalus carinatus armouri) in Florida." Southeastern Naturalist. 4(3): 521-526.

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