|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|Common names:Italian Wall Lizard, İstanbul lizard|
Species: P. sicula
Podarcis sicula(Rafinesque, 1810)
Podarcis siculus(Rafinesque, 1810)
The Italian Wall Lizard or Ruin Lizard (Podarcis sicula) is a species of lizard in the Lacertidae family. P. sicula is native to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, France, Italy, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia and Switzerland, but has also been introduced to Spain, Turkey, and the United States. P. sicula belongs to the Lacertidae family of lizards and it is the most abundant lizard species in southern Italy.
Its natural habitats are temperate forests, temperate shrubland, Mediterranean-type shrubby vegetation, temperate grassland, rocky areas, rocky shores, sandy shores, arable land, pastureland, plantations, rural gardens, and urban areas.
P. sicula contains dozens of subspecies. The current distribution patterns of the subspecies have been interpreted as the consequence of natural events, including regional glacial refuges and postglacial area expansions, and multiple introductions by man.
P. sicula gained attention in 2008 following the publication of a research study that detailed distinct morphological and behavioral changes in a P. sicula population indicative of "rapid evolution".
In 1971, ten adult P. sicula specimens from the island of Pod Kopite were transported 3.5 km east to the island of Pod Mrčaru (both Croatian islands lie in the Adriatic Sea near Lastovo), where they founded a new bottlenecked population. The two islands have similar size, elevation, microclimate, and a general absence of terrestrial predators and the P. sicula expanded for decades without human interference, even outcompeting the (now extinct) local Podarcis melisellensis population.
Following the war, scientists returned to Pod Mrčaru and found that the lizards currently occupying Pod Mrčaru differ greatly from those on Pod Kopite. While mitochondrial DNA analyses have verified that P. sicula currently on Pod Mrčaru are genetically indistinguishable from the Pod Kopite source population, the new Pod Mrčaru population of P. sicula was described, in August 2007, as having a larger average size, shorter hind limbs, lower maximal sprint speed and altered response to simulated predatory attacks compared to the original Pod Kopite population. These population changes in morphology and behavior were attributed to "relaxed predation intensity" and greater protection from vegetation on Pod Mrčaru.
In 2008, further analysis revealed that the Pod Mrčaru population of P. sicula have significantly different head morphology (longer, wider, and taller heads) and increased bite force compared to the original Pod Kopite population. This change in head shape corresponded with a shift in diet: Pod Kopite P. sicula are primarily insectivorous, but those on Pod Mrčaru eat substantially more plant matter. The changes in foraging style may have contributed to a greater population density and decreased territorial behavior of the Pod Mrčaru population.
The most surprising difference found between the two populations was the discovery, in the Pod Mrčaru lizards, of cecal valves, which slow down food passage and provide fermenting chambers, allowing commensal microorganisms to convert cellulose to nutrients digestible by the lizards. Additionally, the researchers discovered that nematodes were common in the guts of Pod Mrčaru lizards, but absent from Pod Kopite P. sicula, which do not have cecal valves. The cecal valves, which occur in less than 1 percent of all known species of scaled reptiles, have been described as an "evolutionary novelty, a brand new feature not present in the ancestral population and newly evolved in these lizards".
ID: Prof. Dr. Bayram Göcmen
boreocypriensis has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.