Potential new distribution areas of the European chameleon

Potential new distribution areas of the European chameleon

Verbreitung Science

The European chameleon (Chamaeleo chameleon) was historically found in some small areas of the Mediterranean and Central Asia. Today, however, it is much more widespread. It is now assumed that the animals were brought to their new distribution areas by humans and were able to reproduce there due to the favourable climatic conditions. Scientists have now investigated where there are further suitable habitats for the European chameleon and how the existing populations could develop over the next 50 years.

The three subspecies studied were Chamaeleo chamaeleon chamaeleon, Chamaeleo chamaeleon musae and Chamaeleo chamaeleon reticrista. The former is known from the southern edge of Portgual and Spain as well as from southern Italy, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Tunisia, the western Sahara and Yemen. The second subspecies is currently found in Jordan, Israel and Egypt. The third subspecies occurs between Greece and Turkey, in Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon and Syria, but is actually native to northern Africa and the Middle East. It was probably introduced by people in southern Spain and Portgual, but is now considered a native species there.

For the study, the existing literature, sampling by the author himself, OpenStreetMaps and information from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) were used, statistically processed and analysed. Climate, topography, habitat of the sites and connections of existing populations were used to predict potentially suitable new habitats.

A total of 553 Chamaeleo chamaeleon findings were included in the study. 22% of the finds could be assigned to urban areas, 21% to scrubland and 18% to agricultural land. Most of the finds were made at altitudes of 0 to 100 metres above sea level. Not surprisingly, the areas currently colonised by Chamaeleo chamaeleon proved to be very suitable habitat. Potential well-suited new distribution areas in the future could be the Iberian Islands between Murcia and the Algarve in Portugal, Sicily, Calabria, Apulia and Sardinia in Italy, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, the region between Israel and Lebanon in the Middle East, Cyprus and all coasts and islands of the Aegean Sea. Overall, a progressive increase in all existing habitats of the European chameleon is expected over the next 50 years. The only exceptions to this are probably some regions in Tunisia and Turkey. Further habitat losses are assumed on the Aegean coast in Turkey and Israel. In Spain and Portgual, the distribution area could shift westwards.

Habitat suitability and connectivity modelling predict a latitudinal-driven expansion in the Mediterranean basin for a historically introduced reptile
Davide Serva, Viviana Cittadino, Ilaria Bernabò, Maurizio Biondi, Mattia Iannella
European Journal of Wildlife Resarch 70 (27), 2024
DOI: 10.1007/s10344-024-01780-9

The two graphics are both from the publication mentioned.

What influences colour patterns in chameleons

What influences colour patterns in chameleons

Science

Chameleons are known for their ability to change colour. International scientists have now investigated what exactly influences different colour patterns in different populations. They want to know to what extent the habitat itself, the distance to other populations or social interactions influence the colour change.

The test subjects were European chameleons (Chamaeleo chamaeleon) caught in La Herradura and Sanlúcar in Spain. The two regions are around 230 kilometres apart. Other Chamaeleo chameleon were collected in the north-western Negev and on the Carmel coast in Israel (around 180 km apart). On the other hand, flap-necked chameleons (Chamaeleo dilepis) were captured in Simbithi, Zulu Falls and Maduma Boma in South Africa. The three locations are between 100 and 550 kilometres apart.

Each chameleon was subjected to two experiments. In the first, the scientists let the chameleon walk two metres on a horizontal stick, which was placed in the sun about one metre above the ground. In the second experiment, a second chameleon of the same species was placed on the same stick 50 cm away from the first. The colour patterns shown by the animal during the experiments and its behaviour were recorded for 20 minutes. The data was then analysed using computer programs. Blood was taken from a cut claw of all chameleons and genetically analysed. The habitats and soil conditions were also analysed in various ways and statistically evaluated. The captured animals were kept in ventilated plastic cages for a maximum of 12 hours and released after the analyses. Unfortunately, the study does not mention how many chameleons were caught and released in total.

As expected, it turned out that the individual populations of both the European and the flap-necked chameleon differed genetically from each other. The populations of Chamaeleo dilepis had significantly different haplotypes.

In the flap-necked chameleon, the females were significantly larger than the males in two locations, but not in Simbithi. The scientists also found that the colour patterns of the three populations studied could be clearly distinguished from each other. They concluded from the results that the colour patterns in Chamaeleo dilepis are primarily dependent on genetic isolation. The habitat itself and the size of the chameleons did not influence the colour patterns.

In the European chameleon, however, the situation was different: Body size and genetic distance to other populations predicted colour patterns in males very well. However, the colour patterns were independent of the location where the animals were found. Soil or vegetation colours only had a minor influence on the colour of females.

Genetic and behavioural factors affecting interpopulation colour pattern variation in two congeneric chameleon species
Tammy Keren-Rotem, Devon C. Main, Adi Barocas, David Donaire-Barroso, Michal Haddas-Sasson, Carles Vila, Tal Shaharabany, Lior Wolf, Krystal A. Tolley, Eli Geffen
Royal Society Open Science 11: 231554
DOI:  0.1098/rsos.231554

Online lecture about parasites in reptiles

Online lecture about parasites in reptiles

Tiermedizin Webinars

The DGHT has created a novelty this year with the digital regulars’ table. Every last Thursday of the month, reptile keepers from all over Germany meet to discuss a given topic and a corresponding lecture. No-one has to travel far to attend, as the speakers and participants come to their living room via an online connection.

Paula Sapion Miranda will kick things off on 25 January 2024. The vet researches parasites in reptiles and amphibians at Justus Liebig University in Giessen and also works at Exomed, the well-known veterinary laboratory for exotic animals. She will talk about common and less common unwanted lodgers. Please register by e-mail to bonsels@dght.de by the day before, and the participation link will be sent out on the day of the regulars’ table.

Paula Sapion Miranda Parasites in reptiles and amphibians
1st online regulars’ table of the DGHT
Start 20.00 hrs

Lecture in Ulm about Spain

Lecture in Ulm about Spain

Live lectures Reiseberichte

Heiko Werning, known as the editor of Reptilia and columnist for the taz, will be giving an illustrated lecture on 18 November 2023 in Neu-Ulm (Bavaria) about not only, but also chameleons in Spain.

On an exciting journey across Spain, he will show how many reptiles and amphibians the European country has to offer. And the diversity is impressive! Heiko’s journey begins in the Basque Country and then leads through Galicia to northern Castile with its beautiful salamanders. In the central Spanish mountain ranges, the herpetologist encounters the quaint mountain lizards. A few hours’ drive west of Madrid, in Extremadura, Heiko finds himself among vultures in the truest sense of the word. And on the southern Spanish Atlantic coast, he finally encounters the European chameleon and its habitat. Finally, Heiko takes his viewers to south-east Spain, where he has found, among other things, Moorish tortoises and the European fringed finger in the only desert in Europe. All in all, a colourful firework display of images and entertaining anecdotes – every reptile lover should get their money’s worth here!

Heiko Werning The Spanish mainland – A destination (also) for herpetological gourmets
DGHT City Group Ulm
Il Mio Ristorante
Europastraße 15
89231 Neu-Ulm
Meeting from 6.30 pm

Presentation in Bern about Samos (Greece)

Presentation in Bern about Samos (Greece)

Live lectures

Markus Grimm, long-time member of AG Chamäleons and entrusted for many years in Switzerland with conducting expert courses for chameleon keeping, will show a detailed lecture on the island of Samos (Greece) on 08 November 2023 in Bern (Switzerland).

The Greek island of Samos is located in the Eastern Aegean Sea and is only 1.2 km away from the Turkish mainland. It is precisely this geographical location that makes the island with its flora and fauna extremely diverse and exciting. A pinch of culture, integrated into the nature of the plants, with a bouquet of orchids, surrounded by countless animals such as birds, insects, spiders, scorpions, amphibians and reptiles make up the recipe for this lecture. Markus Grimm has been visiting the island of Samos for more than 25 years, always discovering something new. His first visit to Samos was to see the European Chameleon. But it didn’t stop there and so the fauna and flora of this unique island became a part of his life.

Markus Grimm Samos – Die griechische Natur hautnah
SIGS Sektion Bern
Restaurant Kreuz
Jegenstorf (Schweiz)
Vortragsbeginn 20.00 Uhr

Foto: Markus Grimm

Presentation in Basel about the European Chameleon

Presentation in Basel about the European Chameleon

Haltungsberichte Live lectures

Markus Grimm, long-time member of the AG Chameleons and for many years entrusted in Switzerland with the implementation of expert courses for chameleon keeping, will give a detailed lecture on the European chameleon on 01 November 2023 in Basel (Switzerland).

The European chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon) describes the archetype of the chameleon as such and thus has status character for the human conception of chameleons. The rather seldom kept chameleon species makes some demands on keeping and breeding, which Markus was able to fathom during trips to the habitat as well as during keeping in the terrarium. After a short introduction, which includes systematics, Markus gives insights into the habitat of this chameleon in nature. In addition, the audience will learn the most important parameters for successful keeping and breeding in the terrarium. So it will definitely be very exciting – anyone interested in chameleons should definitely watch this lecture!

Markus Grimm The European Chameleon – Habitat, husbandry and breeding
The presentation will be held in German language!
DGHT City group Basel
Restaurant Schiff
4102 Binningen (Schweiz)
Presentation starts at 8 p.m.

Picture: Markus Grimm

Presentation in Winterthur about the European Chameleon

Presentation in Winterthur about the European Chameleon

Live lectures

Markus Grimm, a long-time member of the AG Chamäleons and entrusted for many years in Switzerland with conducting expert courses for chameleon keeping, will give a detailed lecture on the European Chameleon on 14 April 2023 in Winterthur (Switzerland).

The European Chameleon (Chamaeleo chamaeleon) in a way describes the archetype of the chameleon as such and thus has status character for the human conception of chameleons. The rather seldom-kept chameleon species makes some demands on keeping and breeding, which Markus was able to fathom during trips to the habitat as well as in captivity. After a short introduction, which includes systematics, Markus gives insights into the habitat of this chameleon in nature. In addition, the audience will learn the most important parameters for successful keeping and breeding in the terrarium. So it will definitely be very exciting – anyone interested in chameleons should definitely watch this lecture!

Markus Grimm The European Chameleon – Habitat, Keeping and breeding in captivity
DGHT City Group Winterthur
Restaurant “Rössli”
8405 Winterthur (Switzerland)
The presentation starts at 8:00 p.m.

Chamaeleo chamaeleon in Turkey

Chamaeleo chamaeleon in Turkey

Science

The European chameleon Chamaeleo chamaeleon inhabits a range that extends from North Africa through southern Portugal and Spain as well as Cyprus and Malta to Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. So far, however, very little is known about the populations in Turkey.

Turkish biologists have recently undertaken the first small study to change this state. They examined 29 European chameleons for their snout-vent-length and, using skeletochronology, for their age. 15 of them were males, 14 females. The animals studied were museum specimens from Dokuz Eylül University. They were collected in the surroundings of the Akyatan lagoon at earlier times. Akyatan is located in the south of Turkey directly on the Mediterranean Sea, about 200 km from the Syrian border. The nearest major Turkish cities are Mersin and Adana.

The average head-torso length of Chamaeleo chamaeleon from Akyatan was 85.34 mm, with females slightly larger than males. The smallest chamaeleon measured 59.71 mm, and the largest 106.84 mm. Thus, the studied population in Akyatan seems to be possibly somewhat smaller than the comparative populations in Spain and Egypt. However, the numbers of animals examined are too small to be able to make reliable statements about this. The age of the animals was between two and four years. The males reached sexual maturity after the first hibernation, while the females did not reach sexual maturity until the second year of life.

Age and body size of the Mediterranean Chameleon, Chamaeleo chamaeleon (Linnaeus 1758) (Lacertilia: Chamaeleonidae) specimens collected from Adana, Türkiye
Elif Yildirim, Nurettin Beşer, Can Yilmaz, Kamil Candan, Yusuf Kumlutaş, Çetin Ilgaz, Elnaz Najafi Majd
Commagene Journal of Biology
DOI: 10.31594/commagene.1104020