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Iguana Specialist Group
Volume 9 * Number 1 * Summer 2006
Conservation Centers for Species Survival Formed * Cyclura spp. were
selected as a taxa of mutual concern under a new agreement between a select
group of American zoos and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The zoos - under
the banner of Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2) - and USFWS
have pledged to work cooperatively to advance conservation of the selected spe-
cies by identifying specific research projects, actions, and opportunities that will
significantly and clearly support conservation efforts. Cyclura are the only lizards
selected under the joint program. The zoos participating in the program include
the San Diego Wild Animal Park, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, The Wilds, White
Oak Conservation Center and the National Zoo's Conservation and Research
Center. USFWS participation will be coordinated by Bruce Weissgold in the
Division of Management Authority (bruce_weissgold @fws.gov).
ARCC Facility at Fort Worth * The Fort Worth Zoo recently opened
their Animal Outreach and Conservation Center (ARCC) in an off-exhibit
area of the zoo. The $1 million facility actually consists of three separate units.
The primary facility houses the zoo's outreach collection, while a state-of-the-art
reptile conservation greenhouse will highlight the zoo's work with endangered
iguanas and chelonians. The greenhouse is a 20 x 45 foot facility utilizing
UV transmitting acrylic roof panels. One side is devoted to rock iguanas and
has ten indoor units and five adjacent outdoor units; the indoor units have
removable panels such that they can be expanded or enlarged depending on
need. Species targeted include Grand Cayman, Jamaican and Anegada Island
iguanas. The ARCC opened with a pair of Cyclura lewisi recently received from
St. Catherines Island. The zoo's resident pair of C. collei will move in after the
2006 breeding season and 2.2 C. pinguis are expected soon from the San Diego
Zoo. The rock iguana program will help showcase the zoo's involvement with
iguana conservation and the IIF and ISG. An iguana research unit is located
adjacent to the greenhouse and has ten indoor and ten
outdoor units for rearing juvenile Cyclura. Nutritional
studies and the effects of social groupings on growth
are two of the anticipated research projects targeted
for this area.
The other side of the greenhouse is designed
for chelonians and will highlight the zoo's commitment
to turtle conservation and the Turtle Survival Alliance.
Three tortoise and six aquatic turtle species are targeted,
including seven taxa listed on the "Top 25 World's Most
Endangered Turtles" list. The tortoises have indoor
pens with outdoor access. The aquatic turtles will share
a 16 x 5 foot pool with a nesting beach, two types of
water filtration, and a UV sterilizer.
Fort Worth Zoo
New Shelter Constructed in Grand Cayman N
A construction team from the Fort Worth Zoo
led by Zoo Director and IIF Board member Mike
Fouraker recently returned from a trip to Grand Cay-
man during which they constructed a new building
for the Blue Iguana Headstart Facility in the Queen
Elizabeth II Botanic Park. Construction of the shelter
took eight days, and the new building will be used
for storage and diet preparation by facility staff and
volunteers. The 16' x 16' building is divided into two
separate areas. The front area is a 16' x 8' screened diet
preparation area. The back area is fully enclosed and
will be used as a secure storage area. The building has
a pitched shingled roof and an attic storage area above
the front screened area. Hurricane straps were installed
throughout and the entire structure was bolted down
to a cement foundation pad. Prior to construction, a
10' x 10' open-sided tent canopy was used for these
purposes. The trip was funded by a grant from the
Aquarium and Zoo Facilities Association's (AZFA)
Clark Waldram Conservation Fund. The fund, named
for an AZFA member and Kansas City Zoo employee
who passed away in 2000, provides money to local and
worldwide conservation programs specifically to help
pay for construction projects. An additional donation
from the International Iguana Foundation (IIF) helped
to pay for the project.
Fort Worth Zoo
NEWS FLASH !!
Jamaican Iguanas Hatch at Indianapolis Zoo * The
first successful hatching of Cyclura collei in the U.S.
occurred on 29 August 2006. Indianapolis is one of
six zoos housing Jamaican iguanas since the 1990s.
Captive reproduction has occurred only twice before
at the Hope Zoo in Jamaica in 2001 and 2004 when
hatchlings were discovered in a headstarting cage. Two
more eggs from this female's clutch, as well as several
eggs from the zoo's second female, are still incubating.
Soccer Growing in Andros
The Nassau Guardian - March 23, 2006
By Renaldo Smith
NEW PROVIDENCE, BAHAMAS. In recent
months, the sport of soccer has been making headlines
as it continues to become increasingly popular here in
Now thanks to Ricardo Johnson, Founder and
Head Coach of the Central Andros Iguanas Football
Club, the sport is growing on the island ofAndros also.
The club which started just six months ago in October
of last year, is focused on both teaching the game of
soccer and educating Bahamians on the value of the
Iguana as an endangered species.
"Presently the club is open to all students be-
tween the ages of 5-10, but that is just a starting age
group. By September we plan to branch out up to age
13, and within the next year be able to offer it to all
youth," said Johnson. "The goal of the club is to teach
Photos by Richard Reams. For Press Release see:
students to enjoy the game of soccer and marries the
need of conservation of the iguana. We are concen-
trating our efforts on just one age group for now so
that we can build a foundation. The club already has
40 members and the reputation of the club as a well
structured organization is growing, so more and more
persons are flocking to join the club," he added.
Johnson, who teaches Biology at the Central
Andros High School, said he believes the club was a
long time coming for the island, and it now provides
the youth with a constructive extra curricular activity
to participate in. Assisting him in the training of the
youngsters is his wife Michele' Helene Johnson, and
Assistant Coaches Shantol Coakley, and Darvin Brown.
Johnson has always been involved in the sport of soccer
and first dealt with youths as an assistant coach with
the Dynamos Football Club under the watchful eye of
Head Coach Carl Lynch.
Johnson and the Iguanas, will get their first real
S test when they travel here to New Providence to face
the Dynamos from the 7-9 of April.
"I think that he is doing a fantastic job and I
am just glad that myself and the other coaches had a
chance to mentor him and help him out along the way.
We continue to mentor him as far as putting him onto
contacts locally or in the States and will continue to
provide any assistance that we can," said Lynch. "We
are always excited about teams coming here to play
and with the kids in the off-season it would be good
for them. The club will increase the awareness of the
sport on the island and shine some positive light on
the work that Johnson and his wife are doing. We are
looking forward to them coming and right now my
roster has about 130 kids so it should be exciting," he
Despite the fact that the club is the first ever
of its kind on the island, Johnson says he has big plans
for the near future.
"We hope to be able to diversify what is happen-
ing with soccer on the island. We want to encourage
multiple teams in Andros that will play amongst them,
and then we can eventually host invitationals here. It
has just begun and the future looks promising for An-
dros and for the youth with some wholesome activity.
High school students have bombarded me with requests
to join the organization, so there is a strong interest
from the older groups on the island," said Johnson.
Thus far, the Iguanas have received a great
amount of support from international organizations
such as the Chicago Shedd Aquarium, the Iguana
Specialist Group, and the International Reptile Conser-
vation Foundation. While the Andros Nature Conser-
vancy, and the Bahamas National Trust has supported
the up and coming club on the local scene.
Andros Iguanas team logo by Joel Friesch.
Blue Iguana Still Needs Man's Help
Caymanian Compass - October 4, 2005
By Cliodhna McGowan
GRAND CAYMAN. Despite all the wonderful work
achieved by the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme over
the past five years, the Cayman Blue Iguana is still the
most endangered lizard on earth. Concerned scientists,
conservationists, Blue Iguana experts and government
representatives got together last week to put their heads
together in order to figure out how to continue saving
Cayman's own Blue Iguana from extinction.
And helping the team along the way was Grand
Caymanian Managing Director Theresa Foster who
provided free accommodation, meeting space, and
refreshments for the forward thinking group.
"Theresa and the Grand Caymanian are hosting
this to a ridiculous extent. We can't thank her enough,"
said Blue Iguana Recovery Programme Director Fred
The group consisted of: National Trust Chair-
person Carla Reid; Blue Iguana Recovery Programme
Director Fred Burton along with staff members Chris
Carr and Samantha Addinall; Department of Environ-
ment Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie and DoE's Special
Projects Officer Mat Cottam; representatives of Durrell
Wildlife Conservation Trust, Wild Conservation Union
Iguana Specialist Group, and International Reptile
"These people are friends and allies that bring in
resources to our programme," explained Mr. Burton.
The team spent Wednesday and Thursday put-
ting their heads together to come up with a plan for
conserving the iguanas over the coming years. A field
trip was scheduled for the group on Friday. Back in
2001 the first strategic plan was written up to save the
Blue Iguana. This plan has now been accomplished.
"Back then we didn't even know how many Blue
Iguanas were left in the wild," commented Mr. Burton.
However, a population survey soon disclosed that shock-
ingly, there were only 10 to 25 left. The improved cap-
tive breeding facility at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic
Park has resulted in tremendous success in breeding and
now over 80 iguanas a year are hatching. There are now
30 free-roaming Blue Iguanas in the Botanic Park and
23 have been released into the Salina Reserve.
But a fresh look needs to be taken at the where
the programme, which is dependent on donations and
charitable grants, is going. Local corporate support
provides the biggest funding followed by that of inter-
national conservation groups including The Darwin
Initiative. One thing the meetings have put in perspec-
tive is just how much work is still left to do, asserted Mr.
Burton, who explained that the Cayman Blue Iguana is
still the most endangered lizard on earth. One of the
biggest challenges is getting enough protected habitat to
allow the programme to restore a viable live population
of Blue Iguanas into the wild.
"The Salina Reserve and the Botanic Park
cannot support enough iguanas to have a viable live
population so we're looking at additional areas. This
could mean finding a new area or the management
of existing areas," he said. Another element being
looked at is funding. "We need more money now on
a sustainable basis and we're looking at grant funding
opportunities and at how iguana-related tourism can
make an income for us," he said. Cruise passenger tours
at the iguana facility at the Botanic Park started in May,
but so far bookings have not been great. It is hoped
that coming into high season these will improve.
Grand Caymanian Managing Director Theresa Foster,
Blue Iguana Recovery Programme Director Fred
Burton, and National Trust Chairperson Carla Reid.
Ms. Allison Alberts, of the Wild Conservation
Union Iguana Specialist Group, who has supported the
iguana programme in Cayman from the outset, pointed
out that the same themes keep coming up. One of
these is the need to educate people that this animal is
found nowhere else on earth. Another is the fact that
the population requires intensive management to keep
it growing. The conservation biologist cites the Cay-
man Blue Iguana as her favourite species. "They are
more complex and highly adapted to their environment
than people give them credit for, They also contribute
to a healthier forest environment, as important seed
dispersers," she said.
Mr. Quentin Bloxam of Durrell Wildlife Con-
servation Trust describes the Blue Iguana Recovery
Programme as one of the best run and high quality con-
servation programmes. He pointed out that saving the
species requires acquisition of a reasonable size habitat
in the Eastern district. This would also help save the
dry forest, which is the most endangered type of forest
in the world. In this way, a biodiversity system would
be saved. The issue of wild dogs and cats attacking
iguanas also needs to be addressed, as does confusion
between green iguanas and the rare Blue Iguana.
The Grand Caymanian's Blue Iguana Grill
supports the National Trust's Blue Iguana Recovery
Programme by giving information about this work to
tourists and the placement of fund-raising boxes on
the premises. The Kid's Club at the resort also teaches
children about this endangered species which is native
to Cayman. Ms Theresa Foster commented, "Sponsor-
ing the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme is important
because they are an indigenous species so it is important
to keep it an indigenous species and I don't think the
awareness on this is as big as for other local issues."
Puerto Rico Prepares to Rid Airport Runways of
Associated Press - June 2, 2006
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO. Green iguanas basking
on runways at Puerto Rico's largest international airport
have become such a hazard that this U.S. Caribbean
territory plans to rid the area of the invasive reptile
species, an official said Friday.
Javier Velez Arocho, secretary of the island's
Department of Natural and Environmental Resources,
said he hopes that teams can begin killing or captur-
ing the iguanas, which he described as "a plague," in
roughly two weeks at the Luis Mufioz Marin Interna-
tional Airport near the capital of San Juan.
An effort to capture the iguanas alive was
under consideration, Velez said at a news conference.
But authorities also were discussing other options:
flooding burrows where the iguana's lay their eggs or
sending teams armed with .22-calibre rifles to shoot
the adult reptiles, which can grow to be more than a
Flight landings and takeoffs have been delayed
because of the reptiles, which are sold in Puerto Rico
as exotic pets. The cold-blooded lizards also create
traffic hazards as they soak up the sun on roads near
Carla Capalli, of the Humane Society of Puerto
Rico, said she recognized that the iguanas posed safety
problems but questioned some of the methods Velez
suggested to eradicate them.
"I understand that they have become a plague,
a danger, and a threat and that they must be removed
from the area, but ... 22-calibre rifles are also a public
security danger," Capalli said.
1'ur member Joe wasitewsia (left) was on-nana
protecting iguana habitat during the filming of
The Pirates of the Caribbean, starring Johnny Depp.
Editorial: Environmental and Lizards 'Tales'
Jamaica Gleaner - May 7, 2006
by Orville W Taylor
XAYMACA: "The land of wood and water," is what
the Tainos used to call Jamaica. It took us more than
500 years before we realized that they were mistaken
for Arawaks. It is taking an even longer time for us to
understand that we are destroying our natural heritage
and legacy. Be warned! By the time Edward Seaga's love
child is able fully to appreciate his contribution to the
preservation of Jamaican culture she may not know of
the diversity of plants and animals that lived here.
Our national bird is the doctor bird or streamer-
tailed hummingbird. How many of you have ever seen
one? And for those who have, when last? What does a
John Crow look like? And I don't mean your spouse.
Have you ever seen the Indian Coney, a large rodent
that looks like a guinea pig? Where did you last see a
Jamaican snake outside of the zoo? Do you understand
that crocodiles play an integral role in the environment?
Do you realize that the encroachment on their habitats
affects your supply of river fish and shrimp? Did you
know that the Jamaican iguana was once believed to be
extinct and would have been so except for the vigilance
and determination of the University of the West Indies
(UWI) and Hope Zoo?
A Nasty Bite. I won't pretend that the shy iguana is
harmless because, if harassed or held it can deliver a
nasty bite. However, so will your parakeet, common
fowl, puss, dog, hamster, and woman. Especially her.
Nevertheless, I am quite aware that the average Ja-
maican is totally petrified of lizards, even those which
cannot possibly hurt them.
A Surinamese friend, a little woman, barely
taller than a 'condensed tin,' was amazed that her five
foot eleven, slightly feminine female roommate was
afraid of a tiny 'Polly lizard' that was smaller than her
poorly-done acrylic nails. In a statement that left me
completely flatfooted, she declared the obvious, while
chasing away a 10-inch croaking lizard. "Lizard smaller
Yet, the phobia that the Amazonian Jamaican
revealed is not unique. It pervades the ranks of badmen,
police, macho males, and even pastors. Many a pastor
has successfully chased out demons and rebuked evil
doers but cowered in mortal terror as a defiant green
lizard (the Jamaican anole,) did push-ups and 'long
out his tongue'. Poor pastor truly understood that,
as the Bible says, if one is speaking in tongues and no
one is there to interpret, then he or she should keep
silent. So right, because our lizards do not stick out
their tongues. That brightly-coloured sac they display
is called a dewlap and it serves to woo females and
discourage other males.
Our fear of snakes is understandable because in
Africa and India where most of us originate, there are
cobras, vipers, and 20-odd foot long pythons capable
of swallowing a man whole. An ability not limited to
female snakes. Still, none of our Jamaican snakes are
dangerous, including our nine-foot Jamaican boas.
Neither are any of our lizards harmful. Yet, the inexpli-
cable phobia is best expressed by my elderly neighbor:
"All snakes and lizards are dangerous. Those who don't
bite you will frighten you to death!"
It is perhaps this fear that has made the gov-
ernmental agencies less than vigilant in the protection
of reptilian habitats. There is a rumour that the only
place where Jamaican iguanas are known to still breed
outside of captivity is being viewed for sale and hotel
development. The UWI scientists have worked as-
siduously to save this species and have received much
international recognition for the effort. It would be
a damned shame if such a sell out were to take place.
No responsible government should allow this to occur
and no Opposition should let it go unnoticed. Let's
hope that it is untrue.
Nonetheless, apart from the wanton treatment
of our wildlife there is even less governmental scrutiny
regarding plant life. The national fruit, the ackee, like
most of us is a 'deportee' from Africa. It is the only
national plant that is policed to any extent and that
is because it is fraught with export challenges. More
pathetic is the national flower, the indigenous lignum
vitae, the 'wood of life.' Grown without any stimulants
it is the hardest wood around. Yet, there are appar-
ently no protective measures to prevent the 'rape' of
this national treasure. Outside of protected forestry
reserves, nothing prevents the wanton cutting down of
these plants to make tourist trinkets and idiotic carica-
tures such as those which jut out into the road in Fern
Gully. This national icon had been so decimated that
poachers travel from as far as Trelawny to remove trees
next to prime iguana nesting sites in Hellshire. Why
can't we stick signs in the airports saying, 'don't buy
lignum vitae!' Most of our children will never know
what this plant is. Ironically, the plant is protected by
international law but no local statute.
Endangered. Anyway, how many have ever seen the
blue mahoe? Despite sounding like an African Ameri-
can pornographic star, it is the national tree. Like the
lignum vitae it is also endangered and poorly moni-
tored. Which laws restrict or outlaw the possession
of the wood from these trees? We must hasten
to the point of criminalizing the abuse of these
plants because as my female environmentalist
laments, "hard wood is hard to replace."
On a similar note, a non-native Asian res-
taurateur had illegal shellfish on his menu. What
bothered me was not that being too expensive
it was appropriately called 'robster.' Rather, he
was selling it out of season.
Dr. Orville Taylor is senior lecturer in the Depart-
ment of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work at
the University of the West Indies, Mona.
Fijian crested iguana (Brachylophus vitiensis)
Two important research projects on iguanas continue
on the Fijian Crested Iguana Sanctuary Island ofYadua
Taba by unrelated researchers, both by the name of
Suzie Morrison, a Ph.D. student from the
Australian National University (Canberra), has just
completed her second season on Yadua Taba. Her first
trip was during the idyllic sunny days of the dry season,
whereas the February-May trip was during the very wet
season. Clothes soaked in February never dried again,
and eventually just rotted on her back! Her main study
area is a quarter hectare dry forest quadrat containing
591 trees, where she has captured, measured and PIT
tagged 270 of the arboreal crested iguanas, including 43
hatchlings. Her results suggest a much higher density of
iguanas than the 200 per hectare previously estimated
by transect surveys in this same forest. This forest
site will be the basis for her long term mark-recapture
project to collect data on growth rates, movement,
reproduction, survivorship, diet, and social structure.
Suzie Morrison and Peter Harlow measure up with a Fijian
crested inuana. Photo by Zachary Pierce.
The wet season is also the nesting season, when
S female iguanas lay three to five large eggs in burrows
constructed on the forest floor. Suzie and her partner
Zachary Pierce located many nesting females, and
recorded the first data ever on the nesting habits of
this species in their natural habitat. They will return
in November to record the hatching of the monitored
To identify seasonal variations in the diet of
the herbivorous crested iguana between and within
plant species, several hundred trees from the 15 species
known to be eaten by iguanas (in addition to the trees
in the mark-recapture plot) are being monitored across
the island. Phenological information is recorded from
each tree across all seasons to supply information on
iguana habitat preferences and the relation these have
to seasonal changes in food availability.
The only terrestrial mammal on Yadua Taba is
the Pacific rat (Rattus exulans), a species which has had
a great impact on reptile populations in New Zealand.
Though arriving about 3000 years ago with Polynesian
or Melanesian people, Pacific rats are often classed as an
introduced species and their effect on Fijian ecosystems
is unknown and surrounded by conjecture. Suzie has
begun a mark-recapture study to determine the density
of rats on the island, their population structure and
how the population reacts to seasonal variations in
food resources. For more information and continuing
updates on Suzie's project visit the project website at:
The second 'Morrison', Clare, from the Uni-
versity of the South Pacific, Suva, assisted by her team
of post-graduate biology students and staff from the
National Trust for Fiji Islands, recently completed the
last of four field trips to investigate the seasonal changes
in crested iguana diet on Yadua Taba. Iguana tree-use
data from six permanent 250 metre transects, as well as
Analyses of fecal material will give a detailed picture of
seasonal changes in diet. Tree-use data were collected
on 1425 iguana sightings during these four survey trips,
and a random subset of these iguanas were captured and
bagged for 24 hours to obtain feces for diet analyses.
Over all seasons and transects, this represents an aver-
age sighting of one crested iguana for every 4.2 meter
of transect searched!
The invasive plant and weed management plan
for Yadua Taba, being carried out by the Iguana Sanctu-
ary ranger Pita Biciloa and men from the nearby village
on Yadua Island, continues. During February-March
this year more large rain trees (Samanea saman) were
poisoned, but unfortunately several of the Wedelia
trilobata or 'trailing daisy' infestations which were
removed by hand in November 2004 had re-grown.
After initial removal these infestations require regular
follow-up visits and further hand removal for at least
a few years. Crested iguana research continues on the
40 hectare island of Macuata, which is one kilometer
off the north coast of Viti Levu, Fiji's biggest island.
Crested iguanas were re-discovered on this island in
2004, and it is now second in importance after Yadua
Taba for the long-term conservation of this species.
In April 2006 Craig Morley and Phillip Trev-
enen (University of the South Pacific), with local as-
sistance, completed the last of the rapid iguana surveys
of Macuata. Over 40 crested iguanas were captured and
PIT-tagged between September 2005 and April 2006.
From these surveys, three areas of different habitat have
been selected for permanent transects. Differences
in iguana temperament have been observed between
Macuata iguanas and those on Yadua Taba, however
DNA analyses to show the relationship between these
two populations are yet to be completed.
Rat surveys on Macuata Island confirmed the
presence of both Rattus exulans and R. rattus, making
this the first crested iguana population known to co-ex-
ist with R. rattus. An additional unconfirmed sighting
of the larger Norway Rat (R. norvegicus) have still to
be verified. This island is a possibility for a rat eradi-
cation program in the future (associated with a study
on the vegetation), which will allow us to determine
what effect the rats have on the iguana population and
N Peter Harlow, Ph.D.
Anegada Island iguana (Cyclurapinguis)
Genetic Analysis of Anegada Iguanas. In order to de-
termine the genetic suitability of the San Diego Zoo's
six adult (3.3) Anegada iguanas for a captive breeding
program, relatedness within the captive population
was examined by comparing their microsatellite varia-
tion to that observed for two groups of wild Anegada
iguanas, one known to be closely related (clutchmates
from marked nests) and one presumed to be randomly
related (haphazardly captured adults and juveniles).
A Cyclura pinguis DNA microsatellite library
was constructed using 23 of 48 candidate loci screened
for polymorphism and found to be useful for analysis.
DNA was extracted from a total of 178 Anegada igua-
nas: 12 captives at the San Diego Zoo (the six adult
founders and their six offspring) and 166 wild individu-
als (68 haphazardly captured animals assumed to be
randomly related, and 98 hatchlings from eight nests
assumed to represent eight sibling groups). Genotypes
were obtained for all individuals and the average num-
ber of alleles observed across the 23 loci in the captive
and wild populations was 2.8 and 4.3 respectively, with
observed heterozygosity determined to be 0.61 in the
captive group and 0.53 in the wild population.
A maximum likelihood statistical approach,
using the six captive founders and most of the wild in-
dividuals sampled, was used to infer relatedness among
the captive adults. Results of this analysis suggest the
six captive adults contain three related pairs (one pair
of males, one pair of females, and one male
and female pair) and that each related pair
is unrelated to the other pairs. The statisti-
cal approach used requires more markers to estimate
specific relationships, such as determining whether two
iguanas are likely to be siblings, half-siblings, parent-
offspring, etc. For this reason, we can only generally
state whether each pair is likely to be related or not.
The molecular data compiled to infer related-
ness of the six adult founders was also used to correctly
assign parents to a captive offspring with a questionable
pedigree. The adults that were believed to be the par-
ents of the offspring were excluded at 7 out of 23 loci.
Of the four other possible adult candidates, microsatel-
lite allele data revealed that only one male and female
qualified as parents of the offspring at all 23 loci.
The microsatellite data have also provided im-
portant information about the genetic diversity of the
wild population on Anegada. Although population
estimates suggest that the wild population contains less
than 300 individuals, the microsatellite data suggest
that the population is genetically healthy (observed
heterozygosity is 0.53) and that subpopulations are not
significantly subdivided (FST is 0.153).
The genetic data also supports the presence of
partial sibling relationships across multiple field seasons
for hatchlings captured on the tiny islet of Windberg
Cay (0.26 ha) in Red Pond, suggesting that females
return to this cay year after year to lay their eggs.
This work was jointly undertaken by the Ge-
netics and Applied Conservation Divisions of CRES
and was funded by a grant from the Institute for Mu-
seum and Library Services and with a Van Ness Research
Fellowship at CRES.
" Glenn Gerber
San Diego Zoo
Upper right: Gel image of genomic DNAs extracted from Anegada iguanas. The multi-band lanes on the left are 1000 base pair
ladders used for size comparison. Above left: Gel image of Anegada iguana PCR products. To the left are 100 base pair ladders.
The four rows of single-band PCR products are roughly 250 base pairs in size, and were generated via amplification of genomic
DNA using microsatellite primers and the polymerase chain reaction. The two rows of single bands show that the DNA is of good
quality and high molecular weight. Lower right: Example ofAnegada iguana microsatellite genotype data. The green and blue
peaks represent alleles generated by a number of different microsatellite primer sets. An individual inherits two alleles at each
locus, one from each parent. The two alleles can be the same size homozygouss individual), and only one major peak is displayed,
nr thov rnn hP twn diffprPnt i7pVe (hhfotrn7voan individlrJua in which renQ twfn nPnlri nrp nrnduiid Imnaor hv hMnaoip RainhnMl
Allen Cays iguana (Cyclura cychlura inornata)
Allen Cays. Two separate research trips were made to
the Allen Cays area in the northern Exumas, Bahamas
- one from 18-26 March 2006 and one from 16-21
July 2006. The March trip consisted of an alumni team
that surveyed cays in and around the Aliens Harbour
for potential migrant iguanas and for the collection of
blood samples. This expedition replaced the normal
May trip for current Earlham students that involves
intensive mark-recapture work on Leaf and U Cays.
The July trip focused on nesting activity on Flat Rock
Reef Cay (FRRC) just northeast of Leaf Cay. We hoped
to compare nesting parameters in this rapidly growing
population with those observed in 2001 and 2002 on
Leaf and U Cays where populations are presumed to
be at or near carrying capacity.
March Survey Trip. As early as 1995, JBI (author)
began hearing reports that iguanas were seen on islands
around Leaf and U Cays where they had not been
previously observed. By 2001, populations had been
confirmed on Allen Cay and FRRC (ca. 1 km NE of
Leaf Cay), both of which contained individuals previ-
ously marked on Leaf or U Cays. Our assumption
was that people were relocating iguanas. In 2005, two
iguanas and a carcass, none of which were marked, were
discovered on a tiny islet just north of Leaf Cay that
had yielded no sign of iguanas when surveyed in 2001.
In order to better understand the issue, 13 Earlham
alumni and associates spent six days in March 2006
in the Allen Cays area to survey islands and to collect
blood samples for future DNA work.
John Iverson exhumes Cyclura cychlura inornata eggs.
Photo by Kirsten Hines.
A total of 12 cays were visited during this trip.
U Cay and Leaf Cay were visited long enough to col-
lect blood samples, but no other work was conducted
there. Allen Cay and FRRC were extensively sampled
and blood was collected at each location. Total popula-
tion estimates for each now stand at 20 (total marked)
and 100 (based on 38 captures this trip (including five
recaptures) and a total of 45 marked for the island,
respectively. To date, neither juveniles nor adequate
nesting sites have been observed on Allen Cay.
FRRC, which had no evidence of iguanas in
1994, now has a thriving, growing population and the
estimate of 100 iguanas includes a subjective count of
30 elusive juveniles. Eight other cays between the Allen
Cays and Robert's Cay just south of Ship Channel Cay,
most of which had never been surveyed before, were
also visited during this trip. A total of seven iguanas
was seen on three of these islands and a fourth island
had iguana scat and tail drags. Of the observed iguanas,
two were captured and blood was collected from each.
One of these iguanas was unmarked and the other was
a female originally from U Cay that had clearly been
relocated there sometime after 2001 since it had been
included in our nesting study on U Cay from that
July Nesting Study. JBI and KNH returned to FRRC
for five days after the presumed nesting season (mid-
June to mid-July on Leaf and U Cays). A total of ten
potential nest sites were identified based on mound
presence, soil and vegetation disturbance patterns, and
female attendance. All ten sites were excavated and egg
clutches were uncovered at seven of the sites. Unlike on
Leaf and U Cays, female nest defense was minimal and
it took some time to determine which nests had associ-
ated females. Nonetheless, seven nesting females were
identified and six were matched with precise clutches.
One female was associated with a potential nest site, but
the eggs were never uncovered. There was also one nest
where eggs were found, but no female was observed.
Two of the identified sites yielded no eggs nor associated
females, indicating that our initial nest identification
may have been incorrect for those sites.
In addition to a lack of strong nest defense, it
tentatively appears that the most important differences
between the young population on FRRC and the older
populations on Leaf and U cays are a higher clutch
frequency (40-50% on FRRC; -33% on Leaf and U
Cays) and more rapid growth rate (32cm
SVL = 10 years on FRRC; 32cm SVL
= 18-23 years on Leaf and U cays) on
FRRC. The latter apparently results in
female sexual maturity being attained in
less than a decade on FRRC rather than
the 12 or more years taken on the other
cays. Other nesting parameters, includ-
ing clutch size, egg size, and distance
between closest nests, do not appear to
differ significantly between FRRC and
Leaf and U Cays.
As a follow-up to the March
survey, JBI and KNH revisited one of
the cays where four iguanas had been
observed and the previously unmarked
individual had been captured. We
observed a total of five individuals and
captured two. As with the March capture, these were
unmarked, adult females. The captured females dem-
onstrated site fidelity suggestive of nesting, and digging
was observed, but there appeared to be too little soil for
actual nest construction. No juveniles were observed,
reinforcing the notion that these individuals may be
unable to nest on this island.
Conclusions. Our research this year leads us to wonder
whether this might be an optimal time for the Baha-
mas government to formally protect the Allen Cays
iguana area. The discovery of a U Cay female as far
away as Robert's Cay (6 km to the north) verifies that
unauthorized persons are relocating iguanas from Leaf
and U Cays. The presence of unmarked adult iguanas
on at least two new cays also suggests a wider natural
distribution than previously known. For example, at
least three of the five iguanas on the newly surveyed
cay appear to be long-term natural inhabitants. Aside
from Leaf, U, and FRR Cays, however, the other cays
appear to lack nesting habitat, potentially rendering the
iguana populations there biologically dead.
Results of DNA analyses from collected blood
and future survey work should help clarify relation-
ships among these island-separated populations. In
the meantime, preliminary nesting results from FRRC
verify that populations can establish quickly given ap-
propriate nesting habitat. In addition, the island with
five iguanas offers a potential experimental site to study
the demographic effects of adding nesting soils to an
Female Cyclura cychlura inornata. Photo by Kirsten Hines.
island. Launching an educational campaign that
includes informational kiosks on Leaf and U Cays is
essential to the long-term well-being of the Allen Cays
iguana. Leaf Cay and its iguanas support a booming
tourist industry, but the latter depends on a vulnerable
species that is made even more so by increased human
involvement. Well-meaning tourists may be creating
some of these biologically dead populations. There
are too many islands which may either suppo t only
single sex individuals, or may not have sufficient nesting
soil. Furthermore, preliminary observations suggest
that tourist feeding has dramatic impacts on a subset
of the populations. We have yet to understand the
implications this may have on the health of individuals
and the population as a whole. Education, combined
with a cooperative agreement among the owners of
Leaf and U Cays and the Bahamas government, could
go far in ensuring the long-term existence of the Allen
Cays iguana, the indigenous endangered Audubon's
shearwater, and other flora and fauna in that area of
, Kirsten N. Hines
The Institute for Regional Conservation
John B. Iverson
Exuma Island iguana (Cyclura cychlurafigginsi)
Iguana (Cyclura cychlurafigginsi) surveys in the Exuma
Island chain were conducted from 6 to 11 April 2006.
The surveys were part of the John G. Shedd Aquarium's
citizen-scientist iguana research program and included
the islands of Leaf [northeast of Normans Pond], White
Bay, North Adderly, Noddy, and Pasture Cays. Objec-
tives for 2006 were to 1) survey iguana populations in
the south-central Exuma chain because they have not
been visited since 1998, 2) translocate iguanas from Leaf
Cay [northeast of Normans Pond] to Pasture Cay in the
Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park to augment the initial
colony that was translocated in 2002, and 3) collect pre-
liminary diet and body condition data for comparative
studies of iguana populations inhabiting Exuma cays
visited by tourists versus un-visited cays.
In addition to the April surveys, Gaulin, Bitter
Guana, and Pasture Cays were visited by CK (author)
between 26 May and 4 June 2006. The surveys were
part of a Bahamas Ecology course that included un-
dergraduate students to help collect data from each
cay (Gaulin - 27, 28 May and 4 June; Bitter Guana
- 27 May; Pasture - 26 May and 2, 3 June). Research
on Gaulin and Bitter Guana Cays is part of an annual
monitoring project initiated in 1998. Approximately
2.5 days were spent on Gaulin Cay, one day on Pasture
Cay, and three hours on Bitter Guana Cay.
General surveys and morphometrics. During the
April surveys, we captured and processed a total of 123
iguanas from five cays (Leaf, n = 19; North Adderly, n =
33; Noddy, n = 14; White Bay, n = 51, Pasture, n = 6).
This was the first year that iguanas were all marked with
PIT tags on these cays (except Pasture Cay) for long-
term identification. During the May/June surveys, we
captured an additional two founder iguanas from Pasture
Cay, one iguana from Bitter Guana, and 51 iguanas
from Gaulin Cay. Of the 51 Gaulin captures, 27 were
recaptures dating back to as far as 1998 (Table 1). There
was no difference in body mass, snout-vent length, or
ectoparasite load between the North Adderly, White Bay,
and Gaulin Cay iguana populations (all P > 0.05). Leaf
and Pasture Cays were excluded from statistical analyses
because they represent translocated populations with low
densities and thus exceptional large body sizes. Noddy
and Bitter Guana Cays also were excluded from analyses
because of small sample sizes. The southern end of Bit-
ter Guana Cay was surveyed by CK and L. Roth on 27
May. Twelve iguanas representing multiple age classes
were observed but only one large male was captured
because of the extreme wariness of the iguanas and our
short time on the island. Additionally, while at anchor
on 26 May off of Bitter Guana Cay, four iguanas were
observed foraging on the north beach. These observa-
tions represent an increase in recorded iguanas over the
past nine years. Although speculative, annual increases
in observations coincide with the informative/protec-
tive signs posted on the island in 1998.
On 10 April, we set Sherman live rat traps on
White Bay (n = 28 traps) and Leaf Cays (n = 30 traps).
We trapped six rats from White Bay and none from Leaf
Cay. To date, rats have been confirmed from White
Bay, Gaulin, Bitter Guana, and Pasture Cays. North
Adderly, Noddy, and Guana Cay (not visited in 2006)
still need to be surveyed for rats.
Translocation. The original translocation from Leaf
Cay [northeast of Normans Pond] to Pasture Cay in
the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park was conducted as a
necessity because of a land sale dispute that required the
removal of as many lizards as possible in two days (see
past IUCN newsletters for details). The translocated
colony was heavily male-biased (11.5) resulting in an
initial loss of large males. Since December 2002, three
male iguana carcasses have been recovered while the
fate of four (2.2) iguanas remains uncertain. One of
the male carcasses was discovered in December 2002
washed up on Compass Cay located approximately
five km south of Pasture Cay. Interestingly, two large
iguanas have been spotted this year on the north beach
of a private cay (Little Halls Pond) located 1.5 km north
of Pasture Cay (Tom Barbernitz, personal communica-
tion). We were not granted permission to land on the
island so we were unable to determine if those iguanas
came from Pasture Cay. However, there are no iguana-
inhabited islands in the area so if the iguanas did not
originate from Pasture Cay, they were purposely put on
the island from a distant iguana-inhabited cay.
Seven (5.2) of the founder iguanas remain-
ing were recaptured on Pasture Cay and all appeared
healthy and gained body mass since last capture. Two
additional founder iguanas (1.1) were observed but not
captured. One subadult that hatched on the island was
recaptured and increased its body mass by 302g and
SVL by 5.9cm (BM = 420g; SVL = 19.6cm) since it
was last captured in 2004. Two other subadults were
observed but not captured.
Evidence of exploratory dig activity was ob-
served on the north beach and two iguanas appeared
to have nested. One female was aggressive towards
male and female conspecifics in her nesting area and
chased iguanas away from the area if they approached
too closely. A snake (Alsophis vudii) was captured on
the island in April. High predation rates of iguana
hatchings by these snakes on Andros Island warrants
future investigations concerning predation effects on
Diet comparisons. Visitor traffic in the Exuma Cays
has been increasing significantly over the past decade.
Many of these tourists land on cays inhabited by igua-
nas. For example, the Aliens Cays in the northern
Exumas experience up to 600 people each week from
one-day Nassau excursions. The islands in the southern
Exumas also receive high-impact visitors from Great
Exuma aboard one-day excursion tourist trips. Previ-
ously undisturbed populations in the more remote
central Exumas are also becoming frequent visitor
destinations because of increased traffic from Staniel
Cay Yacht Club. Consequently, there are few iguana
populations remaining in the Exumas that are free from
visitor impacts. Visitors purposely feed the iguanas,
thus altering their natural behavior and potentially their
health. In order to assess impacts of tourist feeding on
populations of rock iguanas in the Exumas, general diet
data were collected for comparative analyses between
disturbed and undisturbed islands. We collected 131
scat samples from six cays in the central and southern
Exumas (White Bay, North Adderly, Pasture, Noddy,
Leaf [northeast of Normans Pond]
and Guana). In March 2006, KH Island
(with John Iverson) collected 84 scat
samples of C.c. inornata from seven North Adderly
cays in northern Exumas (Leaf [east of
Aliens], Southwest Aliens, Flat Rock Nodd
Reef, Roberts, and three unnamed cays
just north ofAllens). Scat was collected
in different habitats and areas including Lea
wooded interior, rocky areas, and beach
habitat. Preliminary results indicate Gaulin
that prolonged, high rates of feeding
do alter iguana diet. Of the islands Pasture
sampled, Leaf Cay (Allens) has by far Bitter Guana
the longest history and greatest rate of food provision-
ing by tourists. Scat samples from the main tourist
beach on Leaf Cay contained high levels of ooid sand
grains (six of 19 samples), remnants of grapes (seven
of 19) and fresh samples with more of a loose/liquid
consistency than fresh samples found on other parts of
the island (sand in two of 17 samples; grapes in one of
17; no loose/liquid samples). To a much lesser extent,
other sampled iguana populations experience food
provisioning by tourists (e.g., White Bay Cay, South-
west Aliens Cay) but there were no distinct differences
between samples from these islands and samples from
populations with minimal or no food provisioning by
tourists. More data are needed to make meaningful
conclusions but we now have a working hypothesis for
future studies. Future work will also focus on blood
chemistry and behavioral comparisons.
Further reinforcing the timeliness of this work,
we documented an increase this year in tourists visiting
Gaulin and Pasture Cays thereby stressing the need for
signs advertising the protective status of the iguanas.
Additionally, dialogue needs to be initiated to prohibit
the feeding of iguanas on selected cays to prevent po-
tential perturbations and/or preserve selected "natural"
San Diego Zoo and John G. Shedd Aquarium
The Institute for Regional Conservation
Area (ha) N BM (g) SVL (cm) Ticks
800 � 290 27.65 � 3.98 5.81 4.9
5.9 33 [190-1480] [17.2-36.0] [0-21]
620 � 380 25.04 �4.14 13.5 � 13.5
5.9 14 [220-1770] [18.5-35.9] [3-53]
820 � 300 28.02 � 3.93 5.63 � 7.5
4.6 51 [300-1600] [19.9-38.2] [0-49]
1550 � 700 31.54 � 4.78 9.9 �8.8
12.4 19 [710-3320] [24.8-39.8] [2-31]
970 � 520 27.26 � 5.81 8.37 � 5.9
13.6 51 [130-2550] [14.7-37.5] [0-26]
3570 � 1630 40.94 � 10.0 26.7 � 18.4
4 8 [420-4980] [19.6-48.1] [5-54]
-76 1 3810 45.9 11
Table 1. Island size, sample sizes, body mass (BM), snout-vent length (SVL), and tick
load of iguanas captured during the 2006 iguana surveys in the Exumas, Bahamas. Island
areas (except Bitter Guana) were calculated by walking island perimeters with a handheld,
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ISG Contact Information
Allison Alberts, Co-Chair
Zoological Society of San Diego
Fredric Burton, Deputy Chair
National Trust for the Cayman Islands
Richard Hudson, Co-Chair
Fort Worth Zoo
Miguel Garcia, Deputy Chair
Department of Natural and Environmental
Resources, Puerto Rico
WI LD A'
Published by the
Zoological Society of San Diego
Applied Animal Ecology Division
15600 San Pasqual Valley Road,
Escondido, CA 92027
Applied Animal cology
Zoologcal Society of San Diego