Invasive Cuban Lizard in Bermuda

The work of upwithclimate team member, James Stroud, is featured on the Discovery Channel’s Discovery News website.  To read the article, follow this link.  The Discovery News article is based on a press release by Evelyn Perez and the FIU NEWS, copied below.


Invasive lizard takes up residence in Bermuda

FIU biology student James Stroud has observed a non-native species of lizard in Bermuda, a potential problem for the island’s critically endangered Bermuda skink.

A two-year conservation project studying the island’s lizard populations led to the discovery of the Cuban brown anole, a species once rumored to inhabit the North Atlantic island, but was never verified until now.

“The Cuban brown anole most likely reached Bermuda by human transport,” said Stroud, a Ph.D. student in the Kenneth Feeley Lab. “These lizards hitch rides between ports as unintended stowaways amongst cargo, usually in nursery plants and building materials. Although further research is needed to confirm it, this route of introduction seems likely.”

The introduction of the Cuban anole could pose difficulties for the endangered Bermuda skink, the island’s only native lizard species. Also known as a rock lizard, the skink is listed as critically endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Red List, the world’s authority on the conservation status of plant and animal species. According to the researchers, Cuban brown anoles excel at thriving outside of their native geographical area. The lizards can live in a variety of natural and human-made habitats, and feed on a variety of prey, potentially putting them at an advantage to other lizard species who might not be as tolerant.

“We have discovered that the Cuban brown anole does not yet overlap its distribution with the Bermuda skink,” Stroud said. “Therefore, the potential effects of the non-native brown anole on the native Bermuda skink are currently unknown. This topic forms part of our ongoing research interests in Bermuda.”

After surveying all of Bermuda, Stroud found populations of the Cuban lizard at all life stages indicating they are thriving in the central part of the island. He also found the established Jamaican anole continues to be found all over the island, but the Antiguan anole has significantly expanded into areas where the Barbadian lizards live. The discovery was made alongside former FIU doctoral student Sean Giery and Bermuda’s Department of Conservation Services.

Originating in Cuba and the Bahamas, the Cuban brown anole is one of the most widespread lizards outside of its native area with large populations found from Florida to Texas, California, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Singapore and Taiwan. Cuban brown anoles can be found in urban environments including downtown Miami and natural environments such as the Everglades. Anoles are very diverse group of lizards and about 372 species are currently known to exist.

Stroud recently traveled to Costa Rica where he conducted the first-ever study of the Cuban brown anole’s ecology and distribution in the Central American country. He is devoting his doctoral research to studying the evolution, interactions and community patterns of Anolis lizards in the tropics.

The Cuban brown anole was recently confirmed to live in Bermuda by FIU biology Ph.D. student James Stroud. Photo by James Stroud

Cuban Brown anole in Bermuda.  Photo by J Stroud.

Time to start walking the walk

Yesterday I served as an expert panelist for a discussion of climate change and conservation with about 50-60 middle school students.  Overall it was a very positive experience, but…

Included with the event was a ‘breakfast’.  Here is a picture of our ‘breakfast’:


A conservationist’s breakfast?


Even looking past the fact that a donut does not constitute a real breakfast, we can see several obvious problems.  Namely, The donuts were served individually on plastic plates and coffee was served in styrofoam cups.  The only other drinking option was bottled water.  And there was no recycling bin in sight so all plastic plates and bottles went straight the trash.

How hypocritical are we that we can lead a discussion with children about the dangers of climate change and the need for them all to be responsible consumers, while at the same time we sit there drinking out of styrofoam cups?  What type of example are we setting?

Similarly, last month I spoke at a major fundraising function to help entice donors into supporting a new tropical conservation center at my university.  And guess what we all ate for dinner as we sat around discussing tropical deforestation?  Beef!  We were not even given a choice – beef for all!  And to go along with our plates of deforestation, we were all given various pieces of literature, none of which was printed on recycled or sustainably-sourced paper.

Again, how hypocritical can we be?







Under current NSF funding rates, the average researcher will spend half their career unfunded


Think about it…About 1/4 of NSF pre-proposals get invited to submit full proposals. About 1/4 of those full proposals get funded. That equates to an overall average success rate of around 6%. In other words, the average researcher will have 16 proposals rejected for every one proposal that they get funded.

By current NSF policy, a researcher can only submit 2 proposals per year. So an average researcher will just 1 grant funded every 8 years. Most grants last 3 or 4 years.

Put it all together and this means that our average researcher who applies to NSF every chance they get, will spend over half their career unfunded.

Is this really a tenable system?