Nerdy question


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I was wondering if anyone has read any work regarding alopatric and sympatric populations of the different panther morphs? Why red coloration is more prevalent in this part of the country and blues here etc. What are the stresses for different ends of the spectrum? Is it strictly environmental or behavioral? I forsee a map of Madagascar with the full panther color spectrum over top of it. Anyone seen or heard anything about this.
sorry I guess the manuscript that I am working on on stonefly behavior emergence is rubbing off into other arenas of thought.
I think if you are truely interested about this, your best bet is to Call up Bill Love. I beleive he has spent more time in Madagascar than the large majority of reptile enthusiasts currently active in the community. He definetly has some wise things to say.

I have my own thoughts and theories to how the seperate morphs were evolved, and I beleive these "locales" that we lump the variations are far from what they are actually in the wild. He will tell you that much and more. He is a slow typer as he says, so I highly suggest you call him on the phone and schedule a chat.

Bill Love and his wife Cathy are Blue Chameleon Ventures Madagascar Wildlife Tours

Yes it is very interesting to me considering my educational background B.S. Zoology. What are your theories on this phenotypic phenomenon? This Mr. Love sounds like he's got some theories. I don't know enough about the ecology of Panther's to even make a guess.
In a simplified version:

Over thousands and thousands of years, Geographic barriers formed on the island as the land changed. Groups were divided. Some segregated on island, others possibly by rivers, mountains, and raised and lowered plateaus, the separation of peninsulas and inlets. From these divisions, smaller groups were formed, making the mixing of traveling pardalis less likely, and condensed the populations. In essence, in breeding would become more natural, and we all know that with inbreeding over many many generations you can start to develop strains of DNA that have continuing similarities. This is shown best in island locales.

We see these as colours in pardalis, though many do not realise that body proportions have also developed. Ankaramys (The Pink panther) show a very thin head- and they are also reported to lay smaller eggs and hatch smaller babies. Some locales are reported to on average reach significantly larger sizes compared to other locales. Some locales seem to have different body proportions in where the body is more elongated, or the head larger in comparison to the body.

It understandable that locales on Islands would develop to be more so different than the mainland locales. Such as Nosey Borah, (The Island of St. Marie) having a tremendous amount of white making it so radically different than ANY local anywhere. Not to mention that females on Nosey Borah have been described to even show differences than mainland females- appearing to be green, rather than the common orange-tan-peaches. This locale, although poorly represented in the market, seems to be a black sheep and I think should be more sought after- if not just for research- though I suppose research is best done by leaving them untouched and on the island.

Nosey Be, this Island local with its greens, blues, and in betweens seem to have very faded baring. But is its proximity to the coastal local Ambanja- also appearing in blues and greens just a coincidence? I can't personally pass that off as one.

Now to explain the more recently found island, Nosy Mitsio, notice how in comparison to Nosey Be, and Nosey Borah, that this group of islands is so minute? Only some miles in area, it would be safe to assume that this piece of land broke off from the mainland long long ago, and that its radically different colouration would be attributed to the small population of them and the proximity that they would live in considering the size of the island? Their development, and natural inbreeding would occur at a much faster rate, possibly being the reason for this locales uniqueness.​

Ambilobe and Diego Suarez, are two locales that are fair distance away, and have a mountain that partially divides the groups. However, these two locales are completely separated by large significant river from everything to the south, and to the east. In the market we see two types of Ambilobes, Blue barred, being from the south, closer to other blue locales (Ambanja and Nosey Be) and Red Barred being reported from farther north- remarkably close to Diegos which have a similarity to the Red Barred group that cannot be missed, and I see it easily possible for either groups coming into importers hands and being mistaken for the other.

Who knows if they will each evolve into something we would call subspecies, as over long lengths of time I see it a possibility. But what will the impact of humans have on their segregated populations? Clear cutting mountains, and redirecting rivers to feed farm lands have already taken a toll on the country. Some locales have adapted to live in farmed land and others have retreated into the pockets of wild vegetation left between the areas. Would further dividing the geographic area between Sambava and Andapa (locales that are on the same plateau height) mean that over times those locales would continue to develop to be less and less alike as they are similar now?

Now I'm just rambling I guess, and it hasn't really been simplified at all. But hopefully it will fuel your fire, and I have keyed you into noticing at least something.

I had planned to attend one of Bill Love's expedition this year as he has organised one that will specifically give the opportunity to study the differences in each region. However, an unfortunate mistake occurred and I will ave to wait until next year to see if he will repeat this specific tour.
Furcifer pardalis that exhibit high reds come from the east coast of Madagascar, high greens and blues from the west, with the transitional area being at Ambilobe, where the specimens contain both. I've never been to Madagascar, but, after a brief examination of a geographical map of the country, it becomes apparent that between Iharana and Ambilobe there is a valley in the mountain range and a major road through it. This, to me, explains, at least in part, why Ambilobes exhibit such a wide variety of color. There are so many variables that come into play in regards as to why certain colors occur more frequently in some locations as opposed to others, such as temperature, diet, and vegetation, just to name a few. My theory is that it has something to do with the light spectrum, i.e., the degree of sunrise and sunset on a given locale. Chameleons are visually oriented creatures, much like humans. They are also diurnal, therefore creatures of the sun. To overlook these facts is to overlook their very nature. Light definately plays a huge part in these animals lives.
Madagascar has quite a wierd little history. It is thought the first humans exited Africa via a land bridge that was present at the time and fossil evidences supports this theory. Extremely low water levels existed and Madagascar was just a high part of the then land bridge. The sea at this point was nothing more then a salty lake. It is quite possible that chameleons also could have utilized this to get into Madagascar, the Yemen and around the Mediterrian. It would have been easier for both then trying to get around the Sahara. As the water level rose rivers and natural boundries formed. It is possible that through these boundries, slight diet differences, and some small variations in extended weather patterns that these various sub species came about.

Isolation has been proven over time to have the most dramatic effect on evolution. Look at dinosaurs that existed at the beginnig of the Mesozoic Era. The triassic period had very boring similiar species as a whole. The continents spliting and then isolating animals sparked massive variations in all species. By the end of the Cretaceous period you could not even reconize the land or it's animals. Some thing like island boundaries would spark far less dramatic differences but still noticable. Given more time it is possible that a seperation of the species could occur.
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Thanx all for the posts. There is defineately fuel for the fire here. Anyone know if there has been work done on DNA for a phylogenic chart? I may try and make one bassed on characteristics see what happens. Obviously I need to start researching a ton. Otherwise I think Im going to try and come up with a map that will show barring and color. This will maybe help indincate areas where crosses or isolated morfs may occur. You never know. Will I think the island stuff is interesting- especially when thing of "metapopulations" on the mainland. "Metapopulations" are large populations that have small areas of breeding between them but each small population that is isolated has phenotypic differences. So thre is much variation as a whole in the population but a steady mean as well. This is a huge area of interest with ecologists these days. Do any of you know if females or males prefer a mate from their locale when given the option? This may be a driving force how about habitat differences. So many questions... Im glad there are others interested in this.
I need to read my threads before I post. Sorry let me try to explain a metapopulation again. A metapopulation is a large population with small sub-populations within it. So Mdagascar would be the large population and lets say the Nosey Be morph is a small population within it. The small populations are not completely isolated so there is genetic interaction but there are selective pressures in the smaller populations so variation occurs. But as a whole the mean of the population does not change it stays constant. Hope that helps.
Most of your questions are well examined and discussed in Ferguson's book on panther chameleons. You might consider getting it - . As it discusses, adjacent locales are more closely similar to themselves then to other locales located further away and the primary site of radience seems to be around Diego Suarez (the northern most locale with locales radiating along the East and West coast from there). Further, there seems to be decreased fitness between offspring of hybrid locales which would further isolate each locale.

I'm also working on a poster showing 12 of the different pardalis locales along with a map showing their locations. It should be available for purchase in early December.

DNA screening would be interesting to see the Genetic Diffrences in the diffrent locals. Another source of Information this could bring to the hobby is verification. You could verify true bloodlines for locals, and even note if it is a hybrid that is being passed off. Like you said a lot of research will have to be done along with the facilitys and the specimens to accuratly get positive DNA for each location. The map sounds like a great Idea. The cool thing will be where locals cross over, and is there a new morph, or diffrent morphs that are not been described or named yet? I think that in field samples will have to be taken. In the exportation of these animals it is not often known where they come from and mislabeling does happen. Keep us posted on your research. You have my attention.

I like the poster idea, Chris. Throw in some good pictures of each different type and you have one buyer.
Yeah the poster idea sounds very good. Have any of you breeders started doing any DNA analysis? This would be a great way to get a database started.
Thanx for the link that should help- but what would help more would be a concensus on what are the "different" and "same" characteristics between the locales.
You aren't going to find much of a concensus on a definition of each locale past the obvious "Ankaramy's are pink, Ambanjas are blue with either blue or red bars...". If you are seriously interested in this, you really need to get that book I mentioned as it has the ONLY attempted quantifiable descriptions on the locales color and patterns.


I was looking at that book as an option. Hopefully I will get a copy in the next couple months. I'll let everyone know once I get things together.
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