A Survey of Parasites from Anolis Lizards on Andros Island, Bahamas: Do Ecomorphs Host Similar Parasite Assemblages?
Florida Southern College
The Anolis lizard ecomorphs of the Caribbean and Bahamian islands are a well-established example of both adaptive radiation and convergent evolution. However, due to a lack of parasite biodiversity surveys on these islands, it is unclear if the parasite fauna hosted by these lizards follow similar evolutionary pathways. This study attempts to determine if the parasites hosted by Anolis spp. display strict host specificity, which would indicate speciation events in-step with their hosts, or if the parasites have little specificity and are broadly distributed among the various lizard species. In 2015 and 2017, lizards were captured by hand and dissected as soon as possible after capture in three locations on Andros Island, Bahamas. First, an external exam was conducted to look for ticks and mites, then blood smears and fecal samples were taken to search for blood protozoans. Parasites and hosts were preserved and brought back to the Parasitology Lab at Florida Southern College. Preliminary results found the ground-trunk lizard, Anolis sagrei, to host nearly all species of parasites found in this study, whereas the treetop lizard, Anolis smaragdinus, hosted relatively few parasite species. We propose that this pattern is due to the parasites intermediate hosts being ground-dwelling insects which would be more likely to consumed by ground-trunk lizards. Overall, our findings suggest that the parasites of Anolis display moderate levels of host specificity, thus some species may have speciated with their hosts, while others are generalists.
Honors thesis Spring 2018
Parasites, Lizards, West Indies