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The establishment of Anolis wattsi as a naturalized exotic lizard in Trinidad

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Trinidad has a single native Anolis species (A. chrysolepis) and several introduced exotics (A. aeneus, A. extremus, A. trinitatis, and A. wattsi). Anolis wattsi is the latest introduction, being first observed in the Waterloo area in 1992. This paper describes the distribution of this species in 2000 and 2004, by which time it had become established as a naturalized exotic lizard in western Trinidad. The species was verified as A. wattsi in the strict sense (formerly A. wattsi wattsi), differentiated from sibling species (other former subspecies of A. wattsi). A. wattsi is currently distributed in five discontinuous urban localities within an area of about 15 × 5 km, which suggests jump dispersal across unsuitable habitat (sugar cane fields). The rate of spread was about 100 m yr−1 within urban areas, and >1 km yr−1 for jump dispersal. A. wattsi occurred in the same habitat as the larger A. aeneus in gardens, parks and vacant lots. The two species differed significantly in perch height (but not in perch diameter) and substrate use. A. wattsi used lower perches, and replaced aeneus along the series trees (94% aeneus), posts and bushes, walls and fences, and ground (87% wattsi). Perch height of A. aeneus did not differ between locations with and without A. wattsi, and there was no correlation between numbers of the two species among sites. Possible interactions among introduced and native Anolis species on Trinidad are discussed.


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