Painting a Negative Picture

Painting a Negative Picture

Hurricane Horrors

Picture this: The sky darkens. Rain falls in sheets. The winds shriek. Leaves flutter wildly. Branches bend with the wind. A hurricane is ravaging the forest. Anoles huddle together in the safest shelters they can find, hoping for the best, fearing the worst.

It is hard to imagine the negative effect a hurricane has on the forest anole community. Their highrise dwellings—the trees—become ruins following a major hurricane. 

Picture this: Trees look as if they have suffered through a fire or a bombing. The winds and heavy rains have worked together to shear the tops off trees, to tear leaves from the branches, to break branches, and to topple trunks. 

A loss of homes and food in the upper branches force the anoles that once lived there, such as A. gundlachi’s cousins, A. stratulus, to descend to lower levels. All surviving anoles must live together close to the ground. Even though there is an increase in the number of insects after a hurricane, the anoles have to compete for the same food supply. Only the strong survive. If dry conditions follow the hurricane, even more lizards die. It can take years before the anole community returns to its former happy existence in the heart of the rainforest.