Overview

Distribution

Geographic Range

Microlophus albemarlensis (lava lizards), along with six other related species, are found on Ecuador's Galapagos Islands. These different species are believed to have descended from a common South American ancestor. Lava lizards can be found on all major islands of the Galapagos but some species only occupy certain islands. Microlophus albemarlensis can be found on all central and western islands of the Galapagos.

Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )

Other Geographic Terms: island endemic

  • Jackson, M. H. 1985. Galapapagos: A Natural History Guide. The University of Calgary Press.
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Continent: South-America
Distribution: Galapagos: Isabela, Santa Cruz, Fernandina, Santiago, Baltra, Santa Fe, Rabida,  Seymour, Daphne Major, Plaza Sur (Ecuador)  
Type locality: Tagus Cove, Albemarle Island (= Isla Isabela), Galapagos.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Microlophus albemarlensis has primary features similar to most other species of lizards. The males have dark bodies with yellow-green markings. Females are reddish brown in color without markings. Females also have red cheek patches when they reach maturity during breeding seasons. Like most other lizards, both sexes exhibit changes in color depending on mood. Coloration also depends on where the lizards live. Those that live on dark lava are usually darker than those that live on light sandy land. Males are generally 2 to 3 times larger than females. Adult males can range from 22 - 25 cm while females range from 17 - 20 cm in length. Male dorsal scales are more heavily keeled and have longer spines. Despite the obvious sexual dimorphism, it is hard to tell the sex of young Microlophus albemarlensis because juveniles resemble females.

Range length: 17 to 25 cm.

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; sexes colored or patterned differently; male more colorful

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Type Information

Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 15006
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1988
Locality: Isla Isabela (also known as Albemarle Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 15005
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1988
Locality: Isla Isabela (also known as Albemarle Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 15004
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1988
Locality: Isla Isabela (also known as Albemarle Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 15003
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1988
Locality: Isla Isabela (also known as Albemarle Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 15011
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1988
Locality: Isla Isabela (also known as Albemarle Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 15009
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1988
Locality: Isla Isabela (also known as Albemarle Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 15008
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1988
Locality: Isla Isabela (also known as Albemarle Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 15007
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1988
Locality: Isla Isabela (also known as Albemarle Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 15013
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1988
Locality: Isla Isabela (also known as Albemarle Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14904
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14903
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14902
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14901
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14900
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14924
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14923
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14922
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14921
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14920
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14919
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14918
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14917
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14915
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14914
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14913
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14912
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14911
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14910
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14909
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14908
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14907
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14906
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14905
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14899
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14898
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14897
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla San Salvador (also known as James Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14940
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla Santa Cruz (also known as Indefatigable Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14939
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla Santa Cruz (also known as Indefatigable Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14937
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla Santa Cruz (also known as Indefatigable Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14936
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla Santa Cruz (also known as Indefatigable Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14935
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla Santa Cruz (also known as Indefatigable Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14934
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla Santa Cruz (also known as Indefatigable Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14933
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla Santa Cruz (also known as Indefatigable Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14932
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla Santa Cruz (also known as Indefatigable Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Syntype for Microlophus albemarlensis
Catalog Number: USNM 14931
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, Division of Amphibians & Reptiles
Preparation: Ethanol
Year Collected: 1888
Locality: Isla Santa Cruz (also known as Indefatigable Island), Galapagos, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean
Vessel: U.S.S. "Albatross"
  • Syntype: Baur, G. 1890. Biologischen Centralblatt. 10 (15): 478.
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Ecology

Habitat

Microlophus albemarlensis lives in the lowland dry zones of the Galapagos Islands. Here the soil is loose and contains dry leaf litter so that the lizards are able to bury themselves in the soil at night. Rocks must also be abundant so that the lizards can hide underneath them or in crevices for protection from the sun. The habitat is also covered with flora such as cacti and vineplants, which provide shelter from the sun as well as food by attracting insects. Populations of Microlophus albemarlensis also decrease as the low, dry land gives way to forest.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: scrub forest

  • Stebbins, R., J. Lowenstein, N. Cohen. 1967. A field study of the lava lizard (Tropidurus albemarlensis) in the Galapagos Islands. Ecology, 48/5: 839.
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Microlophus albemarlensis in the wild are mainly insectivores. They eat insects such as moths, flies, beetles, grasshoppers and ants. They also feed on other arthropods like spiders and centipedes. Geckos are sometimes found in the stomachs of these lizards. They eat plant material like cactus flowers if the weather is very dry and food is scarce. With man living in close proximity to these lizards, things such as bread crumbs, meat scraps and even macaroni are eaten. This makes them fairly well-rounded omnivores.

Animal Foods: reptiles; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Plant Foods: leaves; seeds, grains, and nuts

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore , Eats non-insect arthropods)

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Since Microlophus albemarlensis feeds mainly on a selection of insects and other arthropods, they may be important at keeping arthropod populations in check. At times, seeds are found in the stomachs of some lizards and in this way they may help disperse them through their droppings. A commensal relationship is sometimes observed when M. albemarlensis can be seen perched on the tails of Amblyrhynchus cristatus (marine iguanas) in order to eat small insects attracted to the iguanas.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds

Species Used as Host:

  • marine iguana

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Predation

Markings on lava lizards' bodies differ depending on the environment they live in, giving them a form of cryptic protection against predators. If the surroundings are dark, their markings will be darker. The same goes for light surroundings. They can also drop their tails to distract predators long enough for them to escape. They can regenerate their tails but it rarely grows back to its original length. Known predators are hawks, snakes, mocking birds, herons, rats and feral cats.

Known Predators:

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

These lizards do not communicate using any form of vocal communication. Most of their communication is through visual display because vision is their best-developed sense. "Push up" displays are used to ward off intruders as well as courtship communication. Change of skin color can communicate the mood of the lizard from fear to aggression. Other actions are used indicate the intentions of individuals. For example, females are known to turn their back to males, raise their tail and shake it from side to side as a sign of rejection to approaching males. It is also believed that females use odors to dissuade male lizards during breeding season.

Communication Channels: visual ; chemical

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; chemical

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Life Cycle

Development

Incubation of eggs takes about 3 months after which babies hatch out of their shells 3 - 4 cm long. Males get their yellow-green markings when they reach sexual maturity. Before that, males are hard to distinguish from females. Females mature much faster than males. Upon reaching sexual maturity, females may mate successfully during the breeding season and have a clutch of their own.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Microlophus albemarlensis can live up to 10 years.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
10 (high) years.

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Reproduction

During mating season, males will engage in "push up" displays to attract females. This "push up" display is also used to challenge and intimidate other males who might be wandering into its territory looking for females. When challenged, the lizard will flatten out its side, lower its throat skin and assume the "push up" display. Males will also fight using their tails and sides to slap at other competing males. Females' cheek patches will turn very red during breeding seasons as a sign to males that she is ready to mate. Male M. albemarlensis are not the most gentle of mates. They commonly seize the females by the skin, usually at the neck, and drag them over a distance before copulating. Successful males usually have a harem as their territory overlaps with 2-4 other females. However, if the female is not ready for mating, she will either escape or may even chase the male away with a charge of her own. Females also use odor to signal that they are not in the mood to be bothered.

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

Breeding season lasts from November to March. Here successful females will lay a clutch of eggs, usually 1-4, in a nest deep in the soil. Females may breed every 3 to 4 weeks during the season. The incubation peroiod of the eggs is about 3 months where young emerge about 3-4 cm in length. Males take about 3 years to reach sexual maturity while females only take 9 months.

Breeding interval: Every 3 -4 weeks during breeding season

Breeding season: November to March

Range number of offspring: 1 to 4.

Average number of offspring: 2.

Average gestation period: 3 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 9 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 3 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

No available information was found on parental care in this species.

  • Jackson, M. H. 1985. Galapapagos: A Natural History Guide. The University of Calgary Press.
  • Prieto, A., J. Leon, O. Lara. 1976. Reproduction in the tropical lizard, Tropidurus hispidus. Herpetologica, 32/3: 319.
  • Stebbins, R., J. Lowenstein, N. Cohen. 1967. A field study of the lava lizard (Tropidurus albemarlensis) in the Galapagos Islands. Ecology, 48/5: 839.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Microlophus albemarlensis was not found on the IUCN red list of endangered species database. Its conservation status is thus unknown, although one website states that a species of lava lizard on the island of Santa María (Floreana) in the Galapagos, is being threatened by black rats and feral cats.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

  • International Union for Conservation of Nature. 2002. "International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources" (On-line ). The IUCN red list of Endangered Species. Accessed March 23 2003 at http://www.redlist.org.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse affects of Microlophus albemarlensis on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Lava lizards are kept as pets in some homes. More importantly, they (like the finches of the Galapagos) are used to study evolution of species in the form of adaptive radiations. The 7 species of Microlophus living on the islands have descended from a single, common South American ancestor, which is believed to have floated to the Galapagos on drift-wood or other vegetation.

Positive Impacts: pet trade ; ecotourism ; research and education

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Wikipedia

Microlophus albemarlensis

The Galápagos Lava Lizard (Microlophus albemarlensis) is one of nine species of lava lizard endemic to the Galápagos Islands found on the following islands: Isabela, Fernandina, Cuatro Hermanos, and Tortuga.[1] The species is commonly attributed to the genus Microlophus but has been attributed to the genus Tropidurus.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Benavides,E; Baum, R.; Snell, H. M.; Snell, H. L.; and Sites, Jr., J. W. (2009) "Island Biogeography of Galápagos Lava Lizards (Tropiduridae: Microlophus): Species Diversity and Colonization of the Archipelago." (.pdf) Evolution, 63 (6): 1606–1626.
  2. ^ Microlophus albemarlensis, The Reptile Database
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