- Other Geographic Terms
- island endemic
- Terrestrial Biomes
- scrub forest
- Sexual Dimorphism
- male larger
- sexes colored or patterned differently
- male more colorful
- Range length
- 17 to 25 cm
- 6.69 to 9.84 in
Incubation of eggs takes about 3 months after which babies hatch out of their shells 3 - 4 cm long. Males get their yellow-green markings when they reach sexual maturity. Before that, males are hard to distinguish from females. Females mature much faster than males. Upon reaching sexual maturity, females may mate successfully during the breeding season and have a clutch of their own. (Jackson, 1985)
During mating season, males will engage in "push up" displays to attract females. This "push up" display is also used to challenge and intimidate other males who might be wandering into its territory looking for females. When challenged, the lizard will flatten out its side, lower its throat skin and assume the "push up" display. Males will also fight using their tails and sides to slap at other competing males. Females' cheek patches will turn very red during breeding seasons as a sign to males that she is ready to mate. Male M. albemarlensis are not the most gentle of mates. They commonly seize the females by the skin, usually at the neck, and drag them over a distance before copulating. Successful males usually have a harem as their territory overlaps with 2-4 other females. However, if the female is not ready for mating, she will either escape or may even chase the male away with a charge of her own. Females also use odor to signal that they are not in the mood to be bothered. (Stebbins, et al., 1967)
- Mating System
- polygynandrous (promiscuous)
Breeding season lasts from November to March. Here successful females will lay a clutch of eggs, usually 1-4, in a nest deep in the soil. Females may breed every 3 to 4 weeks during the season. The incubation peroiod of the eggs is about 3 months where young emerge about 3-4 cm in length. Males take about 3 years to reach sexual maturity while females only take 9 months. (Jackson, 1985; Prieto, et al., 1976; Stebbins, et al., 1967)
- Breeding interval
- Every 3 -4 weeks during breeding season
- Breeding season
- November to March
- Range number of offspring
- 1 to 4
- Average number of offspring
- Average gestation period
- 3 months
- Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
- 9 months
- Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
- 3 years
No available information was found on parental care in this species.
- Range lifespan
- 10 (high) years
- Range lifespan
In general, lizards appear when the sun rises (as early as 6am). Some lizards may start to forage immediately. The activity of the lizards increases by mid-morning when the ground starts to heat up rapidly. However, by mid-day, when the temperature rises beyond tolerable limits, they retreat from exposed positions to seek shelter under rocks, leaf litter or plants. (Stebbins, et al., 1967)
- Range territory size
- 129 to 378 m^2
The average home range for male (Stebbins, et al., 1967)is around 378 square meters. While for females its around 129 square meters. The home ranges of males usually overlaps with several females which he may court on a regular basis. Males wandering into other male or even female home ranges may be chased away.
Communication and Perception
These lizards do not communicate using any form of vocal communication. Most of their communication is through visual display because vision is their best-developed sense. "Push up" displays are used to ward off intruders as well as courtship communication. Change of skin color can communicate the mood of the lizard from fear to aggression. Other actions are used indicate the intentions of individuals. For example, females are known to turn their back to males, raise their tail and shake it from side to side as a sign of rejection to approaching males. It is also believed that females use odors to dissuade male lizards during breeding season. (Stebbins, et al., 1967)
moths, flies, beetles, grasshoppers and ants. They also feed on other arthropods like spiders and centipedes. Geckos are sometimes found in the stomachs of these lizards. They eat plant material like cactus flowers if the weather is very dry and food is scarce. With man living in close proximity to these lizards, things such as bread crumbs, meat scraps and even macaroni are eaten. This makes them fairly well-rounded omnivores. (Jackson, 1985; Stebbins, et al., 1967)in the wild are mainly insectivores. They eat insects such as
- Animal Foods
- terrestrial non-insect arthropods
- Plant Foods
- seeds, grains, and nuts
Markings on lava lizards' bodies differ depending on the environment they live in, giving them a form of cryptic protection against predators. If the surroundings are dark, their markings will be darker. The same goes for light surroundings. They can also drop their tails to distract predators long enough for them to escape. They can regenerate their tails but it rarely grows back to its original length. Known predators are hawks, snakes, mocking birds, herons, rats and feral cats. (Jackson, 1985; Stebbins, et al., 1967)
- Anti-predator Adaptations
- Ecosystem Impact
- disperses seeds
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Lava lizards are kept as pets in some homes. More importantly, they (like the finches of the Galapagos) are used to study evolution of species in the form of adaptive radiations. The 7 species of Microlophus living on the islands have descended from a single, common South American ancestor, which is believed to have floated to the Galapagos on drift-wood or other vegetation. (Stebbins, et al., 1967)
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
There are no known adverse affects ofon humans.
Matthew Wund (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Tze Keong Chow (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.
- active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.
union of egg and spermatozoan
An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
- internal fertilization
fertilization takes place within the female's body
- island endemic
animals that live only on an island or set of islands.
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
- pet trade
the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.
the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.
- scrub forest
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
- seasonal breeding
breeding is confined to a particular season
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
uses sight to communicate
International Union for Conservation of Nature. 2002. "International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources" (On-line ). The IUCN red list of Endangered Species. Accessed March 23 2003 at http://www.redlist.org.
Carpenter, C. 1977. The aggressive displays of three species of South American iguanid lizards of the genus Tropidurus. Herpetologica, 33/3: 285.
Jackson, M. H. 1985. Galapapagos: A Natural History Guide. The University of Calgary Press.
Prieto, A., J. Leon, O. Lara. 1976. Reproduction in the tropical lizard, Tropidurus hispidus. Herpetologica, 32/3: 319.
Stebbins, R., J. Lowenstein, N. Cohen. 1967. A field study of the lava lizard (Tropidurus albemarlensis) in the Galapagos Islands. Ecology, 48/5: 839.