"SOS Pitiüsas" (© Roberto García-Roa | Spain)
Podarcis pityusensis is an exceptional and deeply interesting Spanish endemism. This lizard is distributed in the Balearic Islands. Despite the small size of these islands, the variation of colors in this species across populations is outstanding. It ranges from brown to green and blue tones, and occur both in males and females. Why/How has this species evolved such array of colors in so small islands? Why blue colours if there is not blue backgrounds where to go unnoticed? Why are there blue individuals in this species but not in related ones? Addressing these questions will be helpful to not only understand the evolutionary history of this species, but also the evolution of animal colouration as a whole. To do so, a group of scientists analyze color spectrums of hundreds of lizards, and use specialized cameras that are able to show light beyond the visible human range. Meanwhile, the importation of olive trees from the Iberian Peninsula brought to the islands a previously unknown predator for Podarcis pityusensis. Snakes have affected the viability of this endemism, and forced to carry out conservation programs trying to eradicate this unexpected threat. That is not, however, the end. Human actions led also to introduce this species in other islands, such as Mallorca (where P. pityusensis is now well established), and even in remote areas from the north of Spain, as happens in San Juan the Gaztelugatxe, where this lizard has become a plague. Multiple parts of a challenging, but exciting story about the living symbol of the Balearic Islands.
ALL IMAGES © by Roberto García-Roa | 2021