Different species of veiled chams?

Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
That is halarious! I saw your interesting post on FB but wasn't sure what it was all about. Her veileds do look differently. What do you think causes that? Maybe a touch of MBD?
Definitely nutritional issues going on in some of them, but I would say more related to obesity. The puffy, over-inflated casque is characteristic of obesity in chameleons and they definitely fit the other body condition metrics (http://www.chameleonnews.com/03OctDonoghue.html).

Chris
 

Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
Where did you find a place in Yemen that received 2000mm of rain?
The sources are cited in the text. That data came from Wolfgang Schmidt and Petr Necas' respective books:

Schmidt, W. 2001. Chamaeleo calyptratus: The Yemen Chameleon. Matthias Schmidt Publications.
Necas, P. 2004. Chameleons: Nature's Hidden Jewels. 2nd Edition. Edition Chimaera.​

As I indicated, these sources note that this area can receive as much as 2,000mm of rainfall a year, although I suspect this is a note of the higher end of the range experienced and not an annual average. I have seen additional sources noting that the wettest areas do receive over 1,000mm annually, however (WWF).

Lush is just not a word I would apply to the vegetation in the south west of Saudi Arabia or Yemen. Wadis by definition are dried river beds. Deep rooted trees tap into the underground water supply, creating cooler more humid micro climates for other plants to grow. There is no flowing water except in the rains (or from sewage effluent) and when it does rain, it tends to be big rainfalls all at once.
My understanding from multiple sources is that the western slopes of the western highlands is rain belt of the region and each of these sources describe these areas as quite lush. Obviously we are not talking about rainforest "lush", but "lush" for the Arabian peninsula. Further, these sources all indicate that the western slopes experience heavy rainfall as coastal clouds are pushed up in elevation by the wind. Given the elevational change acting as the driver of the rainfall, nearby areas outside of this specific habitat are likely to experience considerably different conditions, which is possibly why the areas you visited did not experience nearly as much rainfall.

Further, water flowing year round is not the same as it being available. As you said, wadis are dried, except in the rainy season, however they continue to contain vegetation and the microhabitat this creates results in an increased humidity and even water availability for the chameleons in the form of overnight and morning dew due to the cooling temperatures overnight.

The IUCN Red List distribution map for C.c.calyptratus:
http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=176306
http://maps.iucnredlist.org/map.html?id=176306

Unfortunately this map is not entirely accurate. The authors of this assessment (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/176306/0) have mistakenly limited the distribution of this species to elevations between 1,200 and 2,000 m asl, while the nominate subspecies ranges from 500 and 2850m asl (Schmidt, 2001; Tilbury, 2010) and the subspecies C. c. calcarifer ranges from the coastal plains up to 1200m asl in its range (Tilbury, 2010). While the eastern boundaries are relatively accurate, this elevation difference would result in a fair westward increase in the distribution shown in this map.

Here is a video of a veiled found along a road between Ibb and Yarim in Yemen. Ibb is a city that is in the middle of the southern range of C.c. calyptratus pretty much equidistant to the south, east and west boudaries of the range. Yarim is 22km (14 miles) northwest of Ibb, so right in the middle of the southern range.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoBLF1FKB9w

At the end of the video, the camera pans across the road and you get a pretty good idea of just how dry and devoid of vegetation the area is. That is typical vegetation in that part of the Arabian Peninsula. The haze you see is dust.
As described above, the true range of this species taken into account, this is actually more easterly in the range of C. calyptratus. Further, as you travel toward Yarim from Ibb, you are traveling into the heart of the central high plains, which is much drier, and where the species is more restricted and supposedly less common.

Chris
 

jajeanpierre

Chameleon Enthusiast
The sources are cited in the text. That data came from Wolfgang Schmidt and Petr Necas' respective books:

Schmidt, W. 2001. Chamaeleo calyptratus: The Yemen Chameleon. Matthias Schmidt Publications.
Necas, P. 2004. Chameleons: Nature's Hidden Jewels. 2nd Edition. Edition Chimaera.​

As I indicated, these sources note that this area can receive as much as 2,000mm of rainfall a year, although I suspect this is a note of the higher end of the range experienced and not an annual average. I have seen additional sources noting that the wettest areas do receive over 1,000mm annually, however (WWF).



My understanding from multiple sources is that the western slopes of the western highlands is rain belt of the region and each of these sources describe these areas as quite lush. Obviously we are not talking about rainforest "lush", but "lush" for the Arabian peninsula. Further, these sources all indicate that the western slopes experience heavy rainfall as coastal clouds are pushed up in elevation by the wind. Given the elevational change acting as the driver of the rainfall, nearby areas outside of this specific habitat are likely to experience considerably different conditions, which is possibly why the areas you visited did not experience nearly as much rainfall.

Further, water flowing year round is not the same as it being available. As you said, wadis are dried, except in the rainy season, however they continue to contain vegetation and the microhabitat this creates results in an increased humidity and even water availability for the chameleons in the form of overnight and morning dew due to the cooling temperatures overnight.


Unfortunately this map is not entirely accurate. The authors of this assessment (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/176306/0) have mistakenly limited the distribution of this species to elevations between 1,200 and 2,000 m asl, while the nominate subspecies ranges from 500 and 2850m asl (Schmidt, 2001; Tilbury, 2010) and the subspecies C. c. calcarifer ranges from the coastal plains up to 1200m asl in its range (Tilbury, 2010). While the eastern boundaries are relatively accurate, this elevation difference would result in a fair westward increase in the distribution shown in this map.



As described above, the true range of this species taken into account, this is actually more easterly in the range of C. calyptratus. Further, as you travel toward Yarim from Ibb, you are traveling into the heart of the central high plains, which is much drier, and where the species is more restricted and supposedly less common.

Chris
Chris, I've driven around a lot of the Arabian Peninsula. I've driven the west coast from the south, Abha, to Jordan in the north. I've driven up and down the escarpment that separates the coastal plains from the interior plains. I've even driven along the Hijaz railway (of Lawrence of Arabia fame), literally on the train tracks. I've driven down the north/eastern border with Iraq, through the United Emirates and through Oman. The only place I haven't been to was Yemen.

I just can't buy there is anywhere in Yemen that has a normal rainfall of 2000mm of rain. The phrase "rain belt" and Yemen just don't go together in my mind after living and traveling through much of the area for over a decade. That is one heck of a lot of rain. Maybe they measured the rainfall from a freak cyclone, but cyclones rarely hit Yemen. The Red Sea on Yemen's west coast is quite narrow. Dry winds come off the Horn of Africa, pick up moisture over the very narrowest part of the very warm Red Sea and rise over the mountains. Ibb, the city very close to where that video I posted the link to was shot, is one of the rainier places in Yemen and you can see how desiccated it is. Rainfall on the Arabian Peninsula seems to be all or nothing--inches and then drought.

The landscape would not be as devoid of vegetation if it were not for the goats. The whole climate would be different, but overgrazing by goats is not a new phenomenon and predates the papers you quoted.
 

JGuinan007

Avid Member
OK I'm confused could someone just post some pics of the different Veiled chameleon species highlighting the major differences between them. I have driven all over NY, PA, NJ, DE, and MD for over 15 years and never saw a rainbelt there or have any back round in climatology so rainbelts do not exist there, and goats are ruining the environment.
 
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Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
Chris, I've driven around a lot of the Arabian Peninsula. I've driven the west coast from the south, Abha, to Jordan in the north. I've driven up and down the escarpment that separates the coastal plains from the interior plains. I've even driven along the Hijaz railway (of Lawrence of Arabia fame), literally on the train tracks. I've driven down the north/eastern border with Iraq, through the United Emirates and through Oman. The only place I haven't been to was Yemen.

I just can't buy there is anywhere in Yemen that has a normal rainfall of 2000mm of rain. The phrase "rain belt" and Yemen just don't go together in my mind after living and traveling through much of the area for over a decade. That is one heck of a lot of rain. Maybe they measured the rainfall from a freak cyclone, but cyclones rarely hit Yemen. The Red Sea on Yemen's west coast is quite narrow. Dry winds come off the Horn of Africa, pick up moisture over the very narrowest part of the very warm Red Sea and rise over the mountains. Ibb, the city very close to where that video I posted the link to was shot, is one of the rainier places in Yemen and you can see how desiccated it is. Rainfall on the Arabian Peninsula seems to be all or nothing--inches and then drought.

The landscape would not be as devoid of vegetation if it were not for the goats. The whole climate would be different, but overgrazing by goats is not a new phenomenon and predates the papers you quoted.
I'm not sure what you want me to tell you, Janet. I've given you sources that have studied these animals in the field that make these claims, pointed out that "can receive as much as 2,000mm of rainfall a year" is not the same thing as "averages 2,000mm of rainfall a year" (and emphasized that I believed this to be a note of the upper range, not the average), pointed out that "lush" in terms of the Arabian peninsula is not the same as lush in other habitats, and pointed out the reported differences between habitats in the central high plains (toward where that video was taken) and the western slopes of the western highlands (which are reported in some areas to receive significantly more rain). Further, much of your account is not consistent with other published works on this specific area. How about I just quote their texts for you?

Schmidt, 2001:
1. The Western slopes
In Yemen there is a narrow coastal plain directly along the coast of the Red Sea running northwards into Saudi Arabia. [...] Because of the nearby mountains, which around Sana'a reach an altitude of 3658 m above sea level, the western slopes are subject to heavy rainfall. In this region the individual habitats of the Yemen Chameleon are at altitudes between 500 and 2800 m above sea level, i.e., right in the centre of this rain belt. Consequently the climate is best described as moist-warm; in the area around Ibb (directly north of Ta'izz) an annual rainfall of more than 2000 mm has been recorded. The vegetation is correspondingly lush and almost the entire area is used for agriculture.
[...]
2. The central high plains
In contrast to the humid climate of the habitat described above, the central high plains are arid, almost treeless landscapes where, by means of artificial irrigation, agriculture and in particular cattle breeding is carried out. The water from the very sparse rainfall is led-off into the countless wadis which for most of the time are dry but have formed deep clefts in the landscape. In some places, mostly in wadis in protected places, water is available throughout the year. In this way the ground retains sufficient moisture to allow vegetation to grow - especially after there has really been a rainfall exceptionally. [...] These wadis are the main habitats on the central high plains.

[Source: Schmidt, W. 2001. Chamaeleo calyptratus: The Yemen Chameleon. Matthias Schmidt Publications. Pgs 8-10.]

Necas, 2004:
Climate, Habitat: The center of abundance for Chamaeleo calyptratus is around the cities of Tai'zz and Ibb in Yemen. It includes a broad valley (1,200-2,000 m a.s.l.) surrounded by mountains over 2,900 m a.s.l., that reaches Tihama to the southeast and the coast of the Indian Ocean to the South. This is the "greenest" part of the Arabian Peninsula. Despite the high elevation, the climate is subtropical to tropical. Yearly precipitation can reach 2,000 mm and is highly variable, with a period of "mild rain" in spring and "heavy rain" in summer. A brief, dry period is wedged between the two rainy season, and a marked "dry season" occurs in fall and winter. Nevertheless, the dry season receives at least 50 mm of rain per month.

[Source: Necas, P. 2004. Chameleons: Nature's Hidden Jewels. 2nd Edition. Edition Chimaera. Pg 115.]

Further, according to Ward (2015), the area near Ibb receives the most rain of anywhere in Yemen (averaging ~1,500 mm), due to moist air from the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea being shown up the steep mountains:
Rainfall
The Yemeni highlands enjoy seasonal rainfall
Much of Yemen has an arid (<600 mm annual precipitation) to hyper-arid (<100 mm) climate. Average annual rainfall above 250 mm is only found in the southern and western highlands, with a maximum near Ibb of 1,500 mm (Figure 1.2). Two factors produce higher rainfall in the highlands: the trade winds that blow in moist air from the Indian Ocean, and the steep increase in elevation. Moist air passes over the coastal plains, where the humidity is often intense but without much rain. When the air is forced up over the mountains, it cools and the rain then falls. Ibb Enjoys so much rain because of its high elevation and because air masses move in from both the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

[Source: Ward, C. 2015 The water crisis in Yemen: Managing extreme water scarcity in the Middle East. I.B. Tauris & Co, Ltd. Pg 7.]

This is echoed by YemenWater.org, where they also note how rainfall decreases rapidly from west to east (i.e., as you travel from Ibb to Yarim):
The Yemen Mountain Massif:
This massif constitutes a high zone of very irregular and dissected topography, with elevations ranging from a few hundred meters to 3 760 m above sea level. Accordingly, the climate varies from hot at lower elevations to cool at the highest altitudes. The western and southern slopes are the steepest and enjoy moderate to rather high rainfall, on average 300-500 mm/year, but in some places even more than 1000 mm/year. The eastern slopes show a comparatively smoother topography and average rainfall decreases rapidly from west to east.
[...]
Average annual rainfall figures higher than 250 mm are only observed in the western and southern parts of the Yemen Mountain Massive, with the maximum near IBB (1510 mm).

[Source: http://www.yemenwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Hydrology-of-Yemen.pdf]

Based on these references, it appears the areas in the Arabian peninsula you have visited are going to have a drastically different habitat to the main center of the range for Chamaeleo calyptratus calyptratus. This specific area appears to have much higher rain fall levels than other nearby regions (or the areas you are familiar with), driven by the elevation and moist air coming off the coast. The rainfall levels drop off quickly as you travel east, where the species is noted to be more restricted, being found primarily in wadis, where water is available throughout the year.

Chris
 

Carlton

Chameleon Enthusiast
May I humbly suggest that we end this thread by saying where habitat can support one of these species (food, water, cover) and individuals had a route by which they colonized the area, you'll find them. If an area is too hot, too dry, food too scarce, no secure cover, you won't find either species even if they did try to colonize at some point. Individuals of either species may never get established in a new perfectly suited habitat unless there was a source population.
 

JGuinan007

Avid Member
Hi I really want to know if someone could just post some pics of the different Veiled chameleon subspecies highlighting the major differences between them.
 

JGuinan007

Avid Member
I think your right, but I would still like to know if someone could just post some pics of the different Veiled chameleon subspecies highlighting the major differences between them.
 

Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
I think your right, but I would still like to know if someone could just post some pics of the different Veiled chameleon subspecies highlighting the major differences between them.
The published photos are copyright protected and few people have been to the habitat of C. c. calcarifer to have and be able to post their own photos.

Chris
 
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