The Brown Anole, the Resurrection Fern, & the Live Oak; 24 August 2013

Anolis sagrei, the Cuban brown anole,
Pleopeltis polypodioides, the Resurrection fern,
and Quercus virginiana, the Southern live oak;
Volusia county, Florida (24 August 2013).

Following up on our last post, the Carolina green anole (Anolis carolinensis) is no longer the sole species of anole lizard quietly scratching out a living amongst the flora and foliage of the Floridian peninsula. The Cuban brown anole, Anolis sagrei, is an extremely adaptable and resilient non-native species. They’re now perhaps the most-commonly-seen reptile in the state of Florida.

While Carolina green anoles are a bit more adapted to living among the branches of Florida’s foliage, Cuban brown anoles are adapted to scampering about on the ground and among low lying vegetation such as shrubs and bushes. Interestingly, the Resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides) patches adorning so many of Florida’s Live oak (Quercus virginiana) branches seems to be an interesting transitional zone. In short, it works very well for both Cuban brown anoles and Caroline greens.

As we saw previously, the Resurrection fern is a non-parasitic, epiphytic plant that grows atop other plant matter. Though not limited to Live oaks, Resurrection fern can be very common when you have large, sprawling branches such as those of Quercus virginiana. Because their branches are so big, thick, and sprawling, Live oaks create a kind of elevated system of micro-habitats at every possible degree. When you have a really big Live oak, such as this one (the Fairchild oak in Ormond Beach, Florida), their branches can even grow down into the ground and emerge elsewhere. Thus, the trunk of the tree is not the only gateway to the Resurrection fern gardens above. This is beneficial to Cuban brown anoles, of course, as it creates more on-ramps, if you will, directly connected to their ground-level climes.

I typically see younger Cuban brown anoles tuckered throughout Resurrection fern. This kind of micro-habitat seems to be a safe(r) area for them to make their way into the business of life. Whereas the larger Cuban brown anoles are more daring on the open ground and tend to dominate the lower trunk-range, if you want to find young Cuban brown anoles, look for thin, whisy bushes and low-lying Resurrection fern gardens.


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