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Frugivory and seed dispersal by the invasive knight anole (Anolis equestris) in Florida, USA

Giery, Sean T., Vezzani, Enrico, Zona, Scott, Stroud, James T.
Food webs 2017 v.11 pp. 13-16
Anolis, Neotropics, Roystonea regia, diet, digestive system, ecosystems, frugivores, indigenous species, introduced species, lizards, seed dispersal, seeds, Caribbean, Florida
Introduced species can have diverse effects on recipient ecosystems. Here we share observations suggesting the formation of a reciprocally positive interaction, seed dispersal, between an introduced lizard and a native palm. We present evidence that the large arboreal lizard (Anolis equestris), native to the West Indies but well-established in south Florida USA, has a diet dominated by the fruit of several native trees including the endangered royal palm (Roystonea regia). We also show that seeds passed through the gut of A. equestris are viable, suggesting their role as seed dispersers in their introduced range. These findings are the first to document the passage of viable seeds by Anolis lizards, a speciose and ecologically-diverse Neotropical group that exhibits widespread frugivory. We believe these observations highlight potentially important, but understudied interactions between these Neotropical lizards and plants.