Greek lizards and food shortages, new research


This video is about freeing two Balkan green lizards.

From Wildlife Extra:

Greek lizards change their digestive tracts to cope with food shortages

With little to eat on many Greek islands, Balkan green lizards have evolved their digestive systems considerably compared to members of the same species on the mainland.

Even more surprisingly, these insect-eating lizards have also developed special valves to help them to digest plants.

These facts have emerged from a study led by Konstantinos Sagonas of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in Greece and published in Springer’s journal The Science of Nature.

The new study confirms how some reptiles can adjust their digestive system and food preferences in response to adverse circumstances such as low rainfall and poor food supply.

Previous studies have shown that insect-eating Balkan green lizards (Lacerta trilineata) surviving in the harsh environments of various Greek islands have broadened their diet to include more plants.

To extend this research, Sagonas’ team set out to compare groups of these lizards on the islands of Andros and Skyros with two other populations in mainland Greece.

They found that the island lizards have a longer small intestine and hindgut compared to their mainland counterparts.

Those collected from the island of Skyros also have longer stomachs.

Cecal valves, which slow down food passage and provide fermenting chambers, were found in 62 per cent of the island-dwelling lizards, compared to 19 per cent of the mainland ones. This was a fact not previously known for green lizards.

Cecal valves are typically found in plant-eating lizards, and host micro-organisms that help to ferment and break down plant material into fatty acids.

When these structures do occur in insect-eating lizards, it is generally among populations that have started to eat a varied diet that also includes plants.

Sagonas believes the presence of cecal valves among the island lizards therefore reflects their higher consumption of plant material.

About 30 per cent of their diet consists of plant material, compared to the 10 per cent of the mainland reptiles.

So because of their longer digestive tract and the presence of cecal valves, it takes up to 26 per cent longer for the food of island lizards to pass through their digestive system and the ingested food is exposed for far longer to digestive enzymes.

“Such adaptations allow insular populations to take advantage of the limited food resources of the islands and, eventually, overcome food dearth,” explains Sagonas.

“Energy flow in insular environments, the digestive performance of insular populations and the connections within them, provide insights into how animals are able to colonise islands and maintain viable populations.”

Unlike Greek lizards, Greek humans cannot adapt their digestive systems to the hunger, caused by the European UnionIMF imposition of ‘austerity‘.

Reptiles and amphibians in the botanical garden


Eastern collared lizard, 7 September 2015

This photo shows an eastern collared lizard, a species originally from North America. We saw this individual on 7 September 2015, at the big AquaHortus exhibition of aquariums and terrariums. Again, all photos in this blog post are macro lens photos.

There were quite some frogs in the terrariums in the botanical garden entrance building, including Dendrobates tinctorius, and Lepidobatrachus laevis.

Eastern collared lizard, on 7 September 2015

One story higher was a terrarium with three eastern collared lizards.

And a terrarium with a central bearded dragon from Australia.

Indian star tortoise, 7 September 2015

We continued to a hothouse. Near the entrance, a terrarium with this young Indian star tortoise.

Nearby, some relatives: Hermann’s tortoise; European pond turtle; red-bellied short-necked turtle; and leopard tortoise.

Also in this hothouse, colourful amphibians. Including oriental fire-bellied toad.

And spot-legged poison frog. Not far from a panther chameleon terrarium.

Mission golden-eyed tree frog, 7 September 2015

Also, a terrarium with some Mission golden-eyed tree frogs.

Dutch Orchid Society terrarium

The Dutch Orchid Society had a terrarium of its own at the exhibition.

Poison dart frog, 7 September 2015

It contained not only various orchid species, but also a few poison dart frogs, like this one.

Stay tuned, as there will be another blog post, about botanical garden plants.

Slow worm discovery on Ameland island


This video says about itself:

20 April 2014

A baby female Adder Vipera berus berus is shown curling up alongside an adult male Slow-worm Anguis fragilis. The tiny snake would have been born during the previous year and it is just as venomous as an adult.

Translated from the press agency of Ameland island in the Netherlands:

Slow worm seen on Ameland

July 25, 2015

HOLLUM – This Saturday, Annelies Lap from Hollum village saw on the horse trail near the Duck Pond a slow worm. She immediately photographed it.

It is a remarkable observation, because slow worms do not live on the Wadden Sea islands. In 2014 one was reported in a garden on Texel island. Ecomare museum on Texel suspects the animal lifted to the island, eg it made the sea crossing with compost or straw. Probably also the Ameland individual arrived like this as a stowaway on the island.

Lesser Antillean iguana research on St Eustatius island


This video shows a Lesser Antillean iguana, on Ilet Chancel – Martinique, in the Caribbean.

Translated from the Dutch RAVON herpetologists:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Population research on the endangered Lesser Antillean Iguana on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Eustatius is in full swing. From April to June, 60% of the island was scoured and 212 iguanas were observed, of which 160 animals are now individually identified and participate in scientific research. This research is an important part of the conservation plan which was launched in September 2014 by St. Eustatius National Parks (STENAPA) and RAVON.

Helping Dutch wall lizards


This is a wall lizard video from Switzerland.

Wall lizards are very rare in the Netherlands. They only live at old military forts around Maastricht city.

‘Development’ plans in Maastricht threaten the animals.

However, the Dutch RAVON herpetologists have managed to change the plans in ways favourable to the Maastricht wall lizards.

The Belvédèreberg hill, formerly a landfill, has been reconstructed for the wall lizards and slow worms.

Also, wildlife tunnels will be built to help the reptiles.

Dutch lizard species: here.

Protecting nature in the Bahamas


This video series is called Birds of The Bahamas.

From BirdLife:

Protection for key nature sites in the Bahamas

By Kirsty MacLeod, Fri, 12/06/2015 – 10:35

Five new National Parks have been established on San Salvador island in the Bahamas as part of an expansion of the Bahamas National Protected Area System – a system that the Bahamas National Trust (BirdLife Partner) manages. The new parks encompass 8,500 ha of pristine land and seascapes, including all or part of the island’s four Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs). Two of the five new parks are recognised as Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) due to the occurrence of a threatened endemic iguana species.

San Salvador island, some 400 miles south-east of Miami, is thought to be the location where Columbus first set foot in the New World, 11km wide by 21km long, it has a population of fewer than a thousand people. Despite its isolation, it is a popular destination for scuba-divers who come for the beautiful reefs and exceptional diving conditions. The island supports diverse plant communities, including mangrove swamps and seagrass beds, both important for local wildlife and fisheries.

San Salvador is well-known for its birdlife, and in particular, its abundance and high diversity of seabirds. The island hosts 14 of the 17 seabird species that breed in the Bahamas, the largest diversity of breeding seabirds in this area. It is also home to a number of globally threatened species, including the Endangered San Salvador Rock Iguana, endemic to the island and with fewer than 600 individuals remaining. An endemic (and threatened) race of the West Indian Woodpecker is found only here and on Abaco island.

Due to the island’s small size and isolation, the key habitats of San Salvador are extremely vulnerable to man-made influences. However, large areas of these habitats are now contained by the five new parks. Graham’s Harbour Iguana and Seabird National Park and the Southern Great Lake National Park are internationally recognized as IBAs and KBAs, and between them embrace an extensive mangrove system, important nesting seabird populations and populations of the San Salvador rock iguana, in addition to healthy reef systems and seagrass beds. The three other new parks also protect key habitats, including tidal creeks, and a reef system home to the Critically Endangered hawksbill turtle, and a migratory route for humpback whales. It is hoped that the designation of these five new parks will help to prevent habitat and animal disturbance, and wildlife trafficking of threatened species.

“We are especially pleased with the tremendous amount of expressed and documented community support for these parks,” said Eric Carey, Executive Director of the Bahamas National Trust. “We are thrilled to see the results of all of our joint efforts, including that of other NGOs, come to fruition through this momentous declaration by the government.”

Galapagos volcano eruption continues


This 3 June 2015 video says about itself:

Volcano News!! Galapagos Island Volcano Spews River of Lava

Ecuador’s Wolf Volcano in the Galapagos Islands erupted on May 25 for the first time in 33 years. Footage released by the Galapagos National Park shows a glowing river of lava.

From 3 News in New Zealand:

Lava continues to flow from Wolf Volcano

Wednesday 3 June 2015 11:15 p.m.

Tourists in the Galapagos Islands have been given a spectacular view of lava flowing into the ocean as the Wolf Volcano continues erupting.

The volcano began spewing flames, smoke and lava last Monday.

Authorities say the lava is flowing away from the world’s only population of pink iguanas, which live on the island’s northwest tip.

Scientists from Trinity College Dublin have just discovered how to prise volcanic secrets from crystals, which means they are better able to piece together the history of global geography and to predict future eruptions of : here.