Writer’s wildlife photos

May 28, 2019 • 1:35 pm

by Greg Mayer

Although Jerry has been receiving fresh wildlife photos from readers, I thought I’d chip in with a few of mine and my correspondents from San Diego. We begin with a wild inhabitant of the San Diego Zoo, the introduced green anole, Anolis carolinensis. Native to the southeastern United States, they became established at the Zoo many years ago, probably by escapees.

Anolis carolinensis, female, in West Indian rock iguana exhibit at San Diego Zoo, September 1, 2018.

They are now scattered through several southern California counties, although it’s not clear if they are established and reproducing in all locations from which they have been reported. Another anole, the brown anole, Anolis sagrei, is also in southern California. Greg Pauly, of the LA County Museum, is studying these very interesting introductions. Much can be learned about ecological and evolutionary processes from study of populations confronted by, and confronting, new biotic and physical environments for the first time.

Next we have a western fence lizard, Sceloporus occidentalis, a native species, from Point Loma, San Diego.

Sceloporus occidentalis, Point Loma, San Diego, California, March 22, 2019.

And here’s the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse, San Diego, March 22, 2019.

We’ll finish off with two inhabitants of Murphy Canyon, a suburban neighborhood within the city of San Diego. First a snail on the sidewalk– I’ve no clue on the ID.

Snail, Murphy Canyon, San Diego, March 22, 2019.

And last, but certainly not least– in fact I think it’s the best in this set– a southern alligator lizard, Elgaria multicarinata. It was just strolling along through a lawn.

Southern alligator lizard (Elgaria multicarinata), Murphy Canyon, San Diego, California, March 15, 2019.

8 thoughts on “Writer’s wildlife photos

  1. I like these lizards and the snail. Alligator lizards are very cool. I’ve seen them in Northern California from time to time.

  2. Great bunch.
    “Much can be learned about ecological and evolutionary processes from study of populations confronted by, and confronting, new biotic and physical environments for the first time.”
    I’m curious to know what these confrontations show. Is there a link?

    1. What they can show us are the dynamics of populations and communities disturbed, in some cases, far from their equilibrium states, and thus follow population trajectories, and sometimes evolution, in response to these larger than usual perturbations. They can also, of course, be of enormous economic and conservation concern. The locus classicus is Elton, C. 1958. The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants. Methuen, London, and two more recentish books are Cox, G.W. 2004. Alien Species and Evolution. Island Press, Wash. DC, and Mooney, H.A. et al., eds. 2005. Invasive Alien Species: A New Synthesis, Island Pres, Wash. DC, the former more evolutionary, the latter more ecological. Two classic and favorite cases of mine are rapid evolution in house sparrows introduced to North America (Johnston, R.F. and R.K. Selander. 1963. House sparrows: rapid evolution of races in North America. Science 144:548-50) and the control of Opuntia cactus by Cactoblastis moths (Dodd, A.P. 1959. The biological control of prickly pear in Australia. Pp. 565-577 in A. Keast, R.L. Crocker, and C.S. Christian, eds. Biogeography and Ecology in Australia. W. Junk. the Hague.) In the latter case, both the cactus and the moth were introduced, and showed dramatic dynamics of distribution and population size demonstrating strong population interactions, which would not have been easily visible in their native ranges. Googling a term such as “invasive species” will give many hits, which will concentrate on management and conservation aspects. As always, internet sources must be carefully culled for reliability, because the internet does not have editors or librarians to pre-screen the material.


  3. Thanks, Greg! Alligator lizards were mentioned in the America song Ventura Highway. I didn’t know they were a real thing until recently.

    1. I thought maybe they had something to do with Pomp and Circumstance March…you know, Elgar…Elgaria…never mind. I’ll take my bad jokes and leave. 😬

  4. Is the snail by chance Cornu aspersum (formerly Helix aspersum) the common european Brown garden snail? I see it was introduced in 1850 for food reasons (I assume it goes well with California wines) naturally, and has been collected in San Diego according to ucanr.edu.

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