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the Four-lined Ameiva, is a medium-sized ground-dwelling lizard native to
Central America. Adults can reach snout-vent lengths of 88 mm (males) and 82 mm
(females), and their long tails commonly exceed 160 mm, making up as much as
69% of the lizard’s total length. This species gets its name from the two pairs
of yellow stripes running longitudinally along its brown back and dark flanks.
Its belly is white, bluish, or copper-colored, its tail is blue, and its throat
may be yellow or orange. Like other members of its genus, A.
quadrilineata is a very active lizard,
foraging for prey (mainly small arthropods) on and in the soil and leaf litter
during the morning and early afternoon. This species reproduces year-round,
although breeding activity may be concentrated around the beginning of the
rainy season between April and June.
preys on a variety of small arthropods, with a preference for spiders,
grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, and larval ants (Hirth 1963, Savage 2002). A
population of A. quadrilineata
from the Caribbean beach of Tortuguero in the Limón Province of Costa Rica was
also documented to prey heavily on the amphipods Talorchestia fritzi and T. marcuzzi (Hirth 1963). Hirth (1963) also observed one episode of cannibalism in
this species, in which a large female ate a juvenile 45 mm in snout-vent
length. Another individual was found to have eaten an egg of the sympatric
lizard Basiliscus vittatus. Both
of these unusual prey items, however, were consumed following several days of
rain that likely limited foraging opportunities severely. The primary predators
of the Tortuguero population of this species are the snakes Clelia
clelia and Dryadophis melanolomus, although the ghost crab Ocypode quadratus may also prey on this species. Approximately 75% of
this population was parasitized by the red mite Trombicula
alfreddugesi (Hirth 1963).
is a diurnal species that begins foraging for food in the early morning, and
may continue into the afternoon on sunny days (Hirth 1963). This lizard is an
active forager, and is commonly found digging or rummaging through sand, soil,
or leaf litter in search of prey (Savage 2002). This species is heliophilic,
regularly basking in sunlight and seeking shade to moderate its body
temperature. When active, A. quadrilineata maintains its body temperature between 34.6 and 40.0 ˚C (Hirth 1963,
Savage 2002), and while it can tolerate lower temperatures while inactive,
prolonged exposure to temperatures above 40.0 ˚C appears to cause irreversible
physiological damage (Hirth 1963). Home range size in A.
quadrilineata is believed to be
approximately 450 square meters for males and 190 square meters for females,
with females showing tendencies to select a specific home site, such as a
particular log, within their home range. This species appears not to be
territorial, as there is little intraspecific aggression despite a high degree
of overlap between multiple individuals’ home ranges (Hirth 1963).
Although the effects on Ameiva quadrilineata of processes such as pollution or habitat
destruction are not yet well understood, the IUCN Red List (2009) categorizes
this species as Least Concern “because of its large distribution and tolerance
of a variety of habitats, including altered environments” (Mayer and McCranie
is smaller than any other macroteiid lizard in Costa Rica (Savage 2002) and
likely in its entire geographic range. It has two thin, light, and well-defined
lateral and ventrolateral stripes on either side of its body, separated by dark
lateral fields. Although this species has a light brown middorsal area with
even margins, it never has a light vertebral stripe. The posterior gular scales
of A. quadrilineata are
substantially smaller than its anterior gular scales, and the border between
the two is rather abrupt (Savage 2002).
inhabits humid Central American lowlands, from southeastern Nicaragua through
Costa Rica and into northwestern Panama. The mountains in central Costa Rica
may constitute somewhat of a dispersal obstacle to this species (Hirth 1963,
Savage 2002, Mayer and McCranie 2009).
In a phylogenetic study based on partial 12S and 16S
mitochondrial rRNA sequences, Hower and Hedges (2003) found that three mainland
South American species of Ameiva (A.
ameiva, A. festiva, and A. undulata) were relatively basal members of their genus, and that the mainland lineage likely gave rise to new species as it colonized the West Indies from Central and South America. This trend would suggest that A.
quadrilineata, another mainland species,
may be relatively basal as well, but that hypothesis has not been tested, as A.
quadrilineata was not included in this
study (Hower and Hedges 2003). This species was originally described in by
Hallowell in 1861 as Cnemidophorus quadrilineatus (Mayer and McCranie 2009).
primarily inhabits humid Central American lowlands at altitudes from sea level
to 1050 m asl, where it is found most commonly at forest edges and in disturbed
habitats such as agricultural landscapes (Savage 2002, Mayer and McCranie
2009). This species is rarely if ever found in thick vegetation, but prefers
more open, sunny areas such as the sunlit patches under trees, or beaches where
available. It can frequently be found near houses (Hirth 1963).
Ecologically, Ameiva quadrilineata can be distinguished from its closest relatives
because it “prefers much more open areas than Ameiva festiva or Ameiva leptophrys, is less shy and secretive than Ameiva
undulata, and has longer diel activity
periods than A. undulata” (Savage
2002). In terms of morphology, Ameiva quadrilineata can be distinguished from A. undulata by the absence of bars on its flanks, the presence
of light longitudinal stripes, and a sudden, stark difference in the sizes of
the anterior and posterior gular scales. It can be distinguished from A.
leptophrys by the margins of the middorsal
field, which are even rather than scalloped, and by the presence of fewer,
larger parietal scales. The absence of a light vertebral stripe and the
continuity of the lateral and ventrolateral stripes are sufficient to
distinguish A. quadrilineata from
A. festiva, and the enlarged
collar scales and absence of light lateral spots separate A.
quadrilineata from A. ameiva. Size may also be useful in distinguishing some of
these species: A. quadrilineata
reaches a maximum of 88 mm in snout-vent length (SVL), whereas A.
undulata and A. ameiva may reach SVLs of 129 mm and 197 mm, respectively
is a medium-sized lizard with a pointed snout and a long tail. The head is
not distinct from the neck, except in large males which may have a jowl-like
feature due to hypertrophied jaw muscles. The nostril is in the nasal suture
and the head shields are smooth. The postnasals touch one prefrontal scale.
There is just one frontal plate, usually three supraoculars, and an enlarged
interparietal scale. The two large parietals are “in broad contact” (Savage
2002) with the interparietal and frontoparietal scales. The scales in the
supraorbital semicircles do not reach the posterior margin of the frontal. As
for gular scalation, the anterior gular scales are much larger than the
posterior gular scales, from which they are suddenly differentiated. The
enlarged collar scales occur in just one row on the posterior gular fold, and
they are larger than the largest scales in the midgular patch. The scales near
the center of the posterior surface of the forearm are somewhat enlarged and
may be irregular or in a single row. The ventral scales occupy eight
longitudinal rows. There are 18-42 femoral pores, and 25-34 lamellae under the
fourth toe (Savage 2002).
The most striking aspect of the coloration of A.
quadrilineata is a pair of bright, thin,
and continuous longitudinal yellow stripes, running laterally and
ventrolaterally on either side of the midline. In juveniles, the lateral fields
are black, the middorsal field is light brown, and its margins are even. The
venter may be copper to white in color, and the tail is blue. Females are
similar to juveniles in coloration except that the middorsal field may have
darker fleck marks and the throat is usually at least partially yellow. In
adult males, the lateral fields are rust-colored rather than black, and the
flanks are brown. The ventrolateral stripe may lose its continuity, and there
is a dark ventrolateral field, the lower half of which is marked by a gray net-like pattern. The venter may be similar to that of females and juveniles or
it may be blue. Reproductive males also have yellow to bright orange throats,
although all stages may have dark spots on their throats. Adult males’ tails
are brown, and all members of this species lack light spots on the upper
surface of the thighs (Savage 2002).
may reach up to 283 mm in total length, but the tail accounts for 67-69% of
this length. In snout-vent length, males (66-88 mm) are slightly
larger than females (62-82 mm) (Savage 2002).
Like many other lizards both inside and outside of the
family Teiidae, Ameiva quadrilineata has
a nasal salt gland from which it excretes excess sodium, potassium, and
chloride. This may be especially important for osmotic regulation in beach
populations that eat salty marine amphipods and have high exposures to salt
water and salt spray (Hillman and Pough 1976).
occurs at population densities between 32-64 individuals per hectare (Savage
2002). Population demographics in this species have not been studied in detail,
but Hirth (1963) noted that predation made survival beyond the first year of
life relatively rare, with few individuals reaching two years old.
The maximum life expectancy of Ameiva quadrilineata is
approximately 2 years, but lifespans in the wild are much shorter, with only
10% of individuals reaching one year old (Hirth 1963). Savage (2002) notes that
“individuals of this species rarely survive more than two breeding seasons”
Ameiva quadrilineata is oviparous, laying small clutches of one to three eggs (Smith 1968).
Reproduction occurs year-round in this species, but it may peak at the
beginning of the rainy season between April and June, resulting in maximum
numbers of offspring in August and September (Hirth 1963, Savage 2002). Males
reach sexual maturity at a smaller size than females, despite ultimately
reaching larger body lengths. The sub-populations of this species most active
in reproduction consist primarily of males above 66 mm in snout-vent length
(SVL), and females above 62 mm in SVL; however, sexually mature males and
females have been reported with SVLs as low as 58 mm and 48 mm, respectively
(Hirth 1963, Smith 1968). While he did not definitively find any nests
belonging to A quadrilineata,
Hirth (1963) reports that the lizards in his Tortuguero population probably dig
their nests in sandy soils in vegetated areas. Hirth (1963) also provides a
detailed account of mating rituals in this species. Hatchling A.
quadrilineata are approximately 30 mm in
SVL and are believed to reach sexual maturity by the age of six months (Savage
2002). Smith (1968) provides a detailed account of reproductive physiology in
Some evidence suggests that Ameiva quadrilineata may be somewhat disturbance-tolerant, but the
effects on this species of pollution and habitat destruction
are not yet well understood (Mayer and McCranie 2009).
Population trends for Ameiva quadrilineata are unknown (Mayer and McCranie 2009).
Like many lizards, Ameiva quadrilineata may be sought after and raised in captivity by hobbyists and collectors.
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