We document the decimation and recovery of the commonest lizard species, Anolis sagrei, on 66 islands in the Bahamas that were directly hit by Hurricane Floyd in September 1999. Before the hurricane, an island's area was a better predictor of the occurrence of A. sagrei than was its altitude. Immediately after, altitude was a better predictor: Apparently all lizards on islands lower than about 3 meters maximum elevation perished in the storm surge. After about 1 year, area again became the better predictor. By 19 months after the hurricane, A. sagrei populations occurred on 88% of the islands they formerly occupied. Recovery occurred via overwater colonization and propagation from eggs that survived inundation, mechanisms that were enhanced by larger island area. Thus, natural processes first destroyed and then quickly restored a highly regular species-area distribution.
Schoener, T WSpiller, D ALosos, J BengResearch Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.New York, N.Y.2001/11/17 10:00Science. 2001 Nov 16;294(5546):1525-8.