Habitat of Furcifer labordi in Andranomena (Madagascar)

Habitat of Furcifer labordi in Andranomena (Madagascar)

Science

Labordes’ chameleon (Furcifer labordi) has been known for some years as the world’s shortest-lived chameleon. Three scientists from Madagascar have now studied a previously relatively unexplored habitat of the species. The study was conducted in the Andranomena Special Reserve, located about 30 km north of the coastal town of Morondava in western Madagascar. The special reserve has a regrowth part as well as a relatively intact part of dry forest, which lies at altitudes ranging from sea level to 250 metres.

To estimate the population density of Furcifer labordi, the forest was divided into three transects each 150 m wide. At night, the chameleons were searched for with a torch and colour-marked with nail polish. The next day, a 5 x 5 m plot was marked around each site and at least 5 m away along the transect line. In all plots, the canopy cover was counted in percent, the thickness of the foliage layer on the ground and ground-covering plants in centimetres, the number of shrubs up to 1 m, the number of trees over 1 m and the number of felled and burnt trees. Five days after the first count, chameleons were again searched for and counted at night. In addition, insects were caught, counted and identified using light traps. Furthermore, raptor observations (Centropus toulou, Falco newtoni, Buteo brachyperus, Corvus albus and Accipiter francesii) were counted every 200 m along a 1400 m transect. Other predators such as snakes (Madagascarophis colubrinus, Leiohterodon modestus, Mimophis mahfalensis, Dromicodryas bernieri) were also counted by observation. Climatic data from the urban area of Morondava were recorded.

Statistical analyses showed that more Furcifer labordi were found in forest sections where the canopy was denser and the foliage layer on the ground was thicker, and where there were more trees overall. In the forest sections where no chameleons were found at all, significantly more felled trees were counted. As was to be expected, considerably fewer Furcifer labordi were found in the dry season than during the rainy season. Ten different families of insects were found, the most common being Homoptera (mainly cicadas), Coeloptera (beetles), Dermaptera (earwigs), and Lepidoptera (butterflies). Insect availability seemed consistent from February to May. More snakes were counted in February than in March, and the number of birds of prey did not differ throughout the observation period.

The authors consider whether the differences between the microhabitats preferred by Furcifer labordi and non-habitats could have an impact on the longevity of the species. Unfortunately, causality was not proven.

Variation longitudinale de longévité de Furcifer labordi et analyse de facteurs à l’origine de sa longue durée de vie dans la reserve spéciale d’Andranomena-Morondava, Madagascar
Ahy Nirindrainiarivony Philibertin Honoré Djadagna, Achille Philippe Raselimanana, Lily-Arison René de Roland
ESI Preprints 18, 2023
DOI: 10.19044/esipreprint.6.2023.p700

Panther chameleons in Madagascar

Panther chameleons in Madagascar

General topics Verbreitung Newspaper articles

In the bi-monthly magazine of the DGHT e.V., the Elaphe, a nice article on the panther chameleons of Madagascar has been published. It was written by two members of the AG Chamäleons who regularly travel to the island.

The article describes in words and pictures the distribution area of the panther chameleons on Madagascar, which extends over the northern half of the island, more precisely from a few kilometres south of the village of Ankaramibe in the northwest to the north of Madagascar and down the east coast to about 90 km south of the port city of Toamasina. The chameleons are found mainly in secondary vegetation in open landscapes, but also in cocoa plantations, overgrown gardens and rainforests.

The life cycle of the panther chameleons in Madagascar is mainly determined by the rainy season between November and March. The chameleons mate during this time. After 30 to 40 days, the females lay between 11 and 35 eggs in a nest they have dug themselves. The young hatch only in the next rainy season.

The article goes into particular detail about the different local forms, the different colour appearance of the male panther chameleons depending on the location. The authors currently count more than 30 different local forms on Madagascar, which are separated from each other by natural barriers such as rivers. There are probably many more, but not all of them have been discovered yet.

Pantherchamäleons (Furcifer pardalis) – Meister der Farben
Thorsten Negro and Alexandra Laube
Elaphe 3, 2023, pp. 12-25

Photo: Panther chameleon of the local form Ambanja on Madagascar, photographed by Thorsten Negro.