Iguana Specialist Group newsletter (ISG newsletter)
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Iguana Specialist Group


Volume 11 * Number 1 * Spring 2008

ISG Meeting Minutes
January 3-8, 2008
Utila, Honduras
Despite a tropical storm, 14-foot seas and one of our boats almost capsizing,
the 2008 annual Iguana Specialist Group meeting was productive and enjoyable
thanks to the organization of Stesha Pasachnik, Jimena Castillo, Monica Perez,
Sandy Echternacht, and the hospitality of the IRBS and the Utilian people.
Many new local and international faces were in attendance and we were able
to come together to create an action plan for Ctenosaura bakeri and a list of
research objectives for C. melanosterna and C. palearis. The meeting ended
with a field trip to Cayos Cochinos where we were able to observe Ctenosaura
melanosterna in the wild.

Left to Right. Bottom Row: Chad Montgomery, Joe Burgess, Victor Reynoso, Jimena
Castillo, Catherine Stephen, Bonnie Raphael, Stesha Pasachnik, Bruce Weissgold,
Monica Perez. Middle Row: Kirsten Hines, Paola Coti, Wendoli Medina, Melissa
Dordrecht, Eugenia Zarza, Sofia Nunez, Chuck Knapp, Peter Tolson, Daniel Ariano, Sandy
Echternacht, Dennis Baulechner, Corri Thelwall. Back Row: Jennifer Baker, Glenn Gerber,
Lucie Brown, John Iverson, Jan Ramer, Edoardo Antunez, Miguel Garcia, Leslie Ruyle,
Rene Gaal, Jeff Lemm, Joe Wasilewski, Andy Snider, Evert Henningheim, and Rick Hudson.

Phylogenetic Analysis of the Subfamily Iguaninae.
Catherine Stephen (Utah Valley State College) and
Larry Buckley (Rochester Institute of Technology).

The large-bodied lizards of the subfamily Iguaninae
range throughout the western hemisphere and in the
Fijian Archipelago. It is a particularly interesting group
because of its ancient Cenozoic origin, broad distri-
bution across multiple geographical boundaries, and
high degree of regional and island endemism. Prior
molecular and morphological studies have relied upon
incomplete taxonomic sampling and/or data from a
single locus, resulting in unresolved or conflicting nodes
within and between genera. Thus, the evolutionary
history of the group and taxonomic status of several
lineages remain unclear. In order to generate a more
robust phylogeny, we have built upon prior studies by
comprehensively sampling the subfamily both taxo-
nomically and geographically, as well as through the ad-
dition of independent data sets from nuclear loci. Data
presented here are the result of sequencing individuals
at four loci (two nDNA and two mtDNA). These loci
have varying rates of evolution and thus we are able to
resolve deep and shallow nodes within the tree. Data
from each locus are analyzed separately using maximum
likelihood models and together in a Bayesian analysis.
Results of phylogenetic analyses will be discussed in
terms of geologic history, morphological convergence,
taxonomic inconsistencies, and conservation issues.

Update on the Status of the International Iguana
Foundation. Rick Hudson (Fort Worth Zoo).

The presentation will review the six year (2001-2007)
history of the International Iguana Foundation (IIF), a
nonprofit organization registered in the state of Texas.
Organized to help finance priority conservation pro-
grams of the Iguana Specialist Group (ISG), the IIF has
become a driving force of iguana conservation, having
raised over a half million in US dollars since forming.
Sources of funds include annual board member pledges
(all board members are financially vested), grants, and
public/private donations. During the past year, funds
were utilized to provide core operating support for the
Jamaican Iguana Recovery Program, emergency relief
for hurricane damage, workshops and training, facility
construction, and to run an annual small grants pro-
gram. Since 2002, this program has provided critical
support of $230,000 in grants to fund iguana conser-
vation and research programs in Jamaica, Anegada,
Grand Cayman, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Fiji,
Mona, Honduras, St. Lucia, and the Turks and Caicos.
Administrative and office support are provided by the
Fort Worth Zoo ensuring that 100% of all funds raised
are spent directly on iguana conservation.

Iguana Red List Authority Needed. Rick Hudson
(Fort Worth Zoo).
A new Red List Authority (an individual or group)
is needed from the members of the Iguana Specialist
Group. The role of the Red List Authorities is to ensure
that all species within their jurisdiction are correctly
assessed against the IUCN Red List Categories at least
once every ten years and, if possible, every five years
(note, any assessments that are older than ten years
are flagged as 'needs updating', as the status and any
supporting documentation provided may no longer
be correct). The intention is that no new species as-
sessment will be included on the IUCN Red List until
it has been evaluated by at least two members of an
appointed Red List Authority or by at least two evalu-
ators appointed by IUCN Species Programme staff.
This peer review system places greater responsibility
on the SSC network and its partners to ensure that
what appears on the IUCN Red List is credible and
scientifically accurate. This topic will be discussed at
our annual meeting in November.

Update on the International Reptile Conservation
Foundation. John Binns (IRCF).

The principal aim of the International Reptile Conser-
vation Foundation (IRCF), a not-for-profit organiza-
tion registered in the state of California, is to facilitate
conservation programs that contribute to the survival
of threatened and endangered reptiles throughout the
world. Providing targeted multi-level support, includ-
ing but not limited to funding, fund-raising, volunteer
coordination, publication, communications, logisti-
cal support, web development, promotion of species
awareness, and acting as a fund portal for existing
conservation programs, the IRCF is part of the total
conservation solution. Since its inception, the IRCF
has raised $434,568 for conservation. Funds have
been raised from a variety of sources, including public
and private donations, grants, web-based marketing,
and membership dues, which provide members with
a subscription to the Foundation's journal, Iguana.
Focused on the conservation and natural history of
reptiles, Iguana seeks to inform, entertain, and edu-
cate its readers. Journal subscribers and contributors
include academics, zoo professionals, and committed
hobbyists, all of whom share a common interest in
conserving reptiles and their habitats. The IRCF has
provided support for conservation programs in Grand
Cayman, Little Cayman, Guatemala, Argentina, India,
Dominican Republic, Anegada, Jamaica, Honduras,
Fiji, and The Bahamas. The IRCF, in partnership with
Zoo Atlanta and Zootropic, has recently purchased land
in Guatemala for a wildlife sanctuary to preserve crucial
habitat for critically endangered reptiles.

Iguana Research and Breeding Station, Utila.
Photon. hv Jff TnPmm


Update on Cyclura Conservation in the Dominican
Republic. Jan Ramer (Indianapolis Zoo).

In January 2007 three capacity-building workshops
were held in Dominican Republic funded by a grant
from the USFW Partners in the project included
Grupo Jaragua, ZooDom, the Dominican Ministry of
Wildlife and Biodiversity, Durrell Wildlife Conserva-
tion Trust and Indianapolis Zoo. The first workshop
was held in Santo Domingo at ZooDom, and was
presented to government scientists and technicians
and NGO scientists and students. It was well received
and promoted, stimulating discussions about scientific
applications and conservation. The second was held in
La Descubierta for the rangers that work on Cabritos,
but was also attended by government officials, and was
also well received. At this meeting we strove to facilitate
ranger participation in generating conservation ideas for
the areas and species they protect. The third was held
in Pedernales, and was attended by college students,
high school students, and NGO scientists including a
group from Haiti. This workshop included a trip to the
study site so that participants could get a feel for field
conditions. There were several students who seemed
particularly stimulated, and our hope is that they will
continue with their interest in school, perhaps making
a career of conservation, science, or both.

Grupo Jaragua has been very busy surveying nesting ac-
tivities of C. ricordi in the area as part of their larger pro-
gram to conserve biodiversity in the biosphere reserve
in the southwestern part of the Dominican Republic.
They are also conducting a land tenure study in Ricord's
iguana habitat in Pedernales region and are working
hard to pinpoint critical areas where clashes between
agricultural use and conservation are brewing. They are
considering possibilities like purchasing a buffer zone
around nesting areas, promotion of land use that will
be minimally detrimental to iguanas, and coordinating

with local governmental agencies to prevent further
habitat destruction. This work was done with funding
from the IIF and MacArthur Foundation.

Grupo Jaragua also just received funding from the IIF
to continue work in Haiti where a small population of
Ricord's iguanas has been located. They are working
with a Haitian NGO and are translating the curriculum
developed in 2006 for Dominican 3rd graders into
French and Creole for use in schools in the area (funded
by USFW and AZA-CEF; partners were Indianapolis
Zoo, Grupo Jaragua, and ZooDom).

ZooDom has been busy breeding Ricord's iguanas.
They've had three clutches hatch since 2002, and the
3.1 individuals from 2002 are quite large and need
placement. The ten hatchlings from 2004 are grow-
ing quickly and needing placement, and there were 15
hatchlings last fall! The curator asks that the ISG try
to make some recommendations, as breeding was part
of the SRP, but placement of hatchlings has not been

Indianapolis Zoo received a grant from a board mem-
ber to continue the survey work on Cabritos. Transect
methodology set in 2003 was discussed with Richard
Young of DWCT, and slight adjustments will be
implemented when the team returns in April of this
year. The Indy group will be accompanied by folks
from Toledo Zoo, Grupo Jaragua, ZooDom, and the
Ministry of Wildlife and Biodiversity. The Indy team
will return annually, and hope to recruit a Dominican
scientist to continue survey work throughout the year.
Through a grant from Mazuri, health assessments of
free-ranging ricordi and cornuta will be continued as
well on the April field trip.

Dr. Roberto Maria had his paper published this year;
the pdfis available by contacting Jan Ramer. Maria, R.,
J. Ramer, T. Reichard, P. Tolson, M. Christopher. 2007.
Health assessment of free-ranging Ricord's iguanas
(Cyclura ricordi) in the Dominican Republic. Journal
of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 38(3): 414-419.



Recovery Initiatives for the Mona Island Iguana -
the 8th Season. Miguel Garcia, Nestor Perez-Bu-
itrago (Center for Applied Tropical Ecology and
Conservation and University of Puerto Rico), Al-
berto Alvarez (Department of Natural and Environ-
mental Resources), and Peter Tolson (Toledo Zoo).

Since November 1999, endangered Mona Island
iguanas (Cyclura cornuta stejnegerz) have been raised as
part of a headstart program, a recovery effort aimed
to increase the number of young individuals in this
population. The first group of iguanas was released
in 2002 and a total of 135 iguanas have been moved
to the wild as of June 2007. Of these, at least three
females have nested successfully. In a parallel study,
high male-male territoriality has been documented
while male-female territories show great overlap during
the non-breeding season. This finding may suggest that
the unusual low densities observed in the Mona Island
iguana population cannot be explained solely by exotic
mammal predation and habitat alteration.

JAMAICA - Hudson for Wilson

Update: Jamaican Iguana Recovery Project.
Byron Wilson and Rick Van Veen (University of the
West Indies).

Between November 2006 and October 2007, the
Jamaican Iguana Recovery Group continued work
toward the goal of securing a viable Cyclura colleipopu-
lation in the Hellshire Hills and on the Goat Islands.
Invasive predator control was conducted throughout
the period, with over a hundred individual predators
removed. In addition, the NGO Island Conservation
made a site visit, demonstrated the use of leg-hold
traps for cats, and conducted a logistics planning as-
sessment related to the eradication of invasives on the
Goat Islands.

Sixteen iguana nests were deposited at the "Upper" and
"Lower" communal nesting sites (combined), suggest-
ing that the number of females nesting in these areas
has doubled since initial monitoring efforts in the early
1990's. Total nests in the core area likely exceeded 25,

and over 200 hatchlings may have successfully emerged.
Unfortunately, Category 4 Hurricane Dean severely
compromised nest site monitoring, and resulted in
only 54 hatchlings being measured and PIT-tagged.
However, 40 of these were taken to the Hope Zoo for
headstarting - double the usual number. Rick van
Veen continued radio tracking free-ranging animals and
oversaw the field station repairs necessitated by Hur-
ricane Dean. An MOU was signed between UWI and
the Urban Development Corporation, which should
enhance the potential for cooperative conservation ef-
forts in Hellshire/Goat Islands. Major new initiatives
are planned for 2008, including the deployment of
"Judas iguanas" to facilitate the identification of other
iguana concentrations in the Hellshire Hills. Other
focal projects will include a "mega-release" of head-
starters and the initiation of biological surveys on the
Goat Islands.


Conservation Program Update for the Turks and Caicos
Iguana, Cyclura carinata. Glenn Gerber (Zoological
Society of San Diego).

As one of the smallest of rock iguana species, the Turks
and Caicos iguana is among the most vulnerable to
invasive predators. Once ubiquitous throughout the
Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), the species now oc-
cupies less than 5% of its historic range and at least
15 island populations have been extirpated in the past
30 years due to the spread of introduced mammalian
predators. Because of this, the Turks and Caicos iguana
is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red
List and has been the focus of an active conservation
program since 2000. Conservation efforts have cen-
tered on establishing additional iguana populations via
translocation. Using adult iguanas from large islands
under threat from development or invasive mammals,
additional breeding populations have now been estab-
lished on four small protected islands. This program
has been very successful and results of recent monitor-
ing of translocated populations will be presented along
with plans for another translocation in 2008 and an
update on efforts to establish a feral mammal removal
program for the TCI.


Conservation Program Update for the Anegada Iguana,
Cyclura pinguis. Glenn Gerber (Zoological Society of
San Diego) and Kelly Bradley (Dallas Zoo).

Once widespread on the Puerto Rican Bank, Cyclura
pinguis became restricted to Anegada Island after the
last interglacial sea level rise. Since European coloni-
zation, the species has undergone further population
reductions due to habitat degradation and loss, caused
by humans and introduced livestock, and predation
from introduced mammalian carnivores. As a result,
the Anegada iguana is listed as Critically Endangered
on the IUCN Red List and has been the focus of an
active conservation program since 1997. The iguana
population on Anegada is now concentrated in a small
portion of the island and composed almost entirely of
aging adults, due to heavy predation of juveniles by
feral cats that have effectively eliminated recruitment.
To increase recruitment, a headstarting program has
been established whereby juveniles are collected annu-
ally from nest sites immediately after emergence and
transferred to a captive facility on island, where they
are raised until large enough to survive in the wild
with cats. To date, over 100 headstarted animals have
been returned to the wild with an average survival
rate of 85%. In addition to continuing the headstart
program, current efforts are focused on establishing
better estimates of population size and distribution
using mark-recapture methods and by mapping and
monitoring iguana retreats. Updates will be given
for these activities and for recent analyses of genetic
diversity for introduced satellite populations on Guana
and Necker Islands.


Threats Developing to the Rock Iguana, Cyclura carinata
on Booby Cay, Mayaguana. Joe Wasilewski (Natural
Selections) and Steve Conners (Miami Metrozoo).

Mayaguana, is the easternmost Bahamian island.
Presently three settlements occur on this 40x7 km2
island and total 300-400 people. Tourism consists of
infrequent visits by sportfishermen. Booby Cay, an
uninhabited 2.5 km2 island, is physically separated

baker on
Utila. Photo
by Jeff Lemm.

from Mayaguana by a shallow 200 meter channel and
is approximately 32 kilometers east of the settlements.
The only population of the rock iguana, Cyclura cari-
nata, outside the Turks and Caicos is found on this cay.
These iguanas have been studied since 1998 and the
latest population estimate is 500. In spite of its prox-
imity, iguanas do not exist on Mayaguana due to the
high number of feral cats and dogs present. Currently
there are introduced goats (Capra hircus) competing
with the iguanas for food and rats are present (Rat-
tus rattus). A U.S. development firm is investing $6
billion in developing Mayaguana. The master build-
ing plan includes golf courses, 3000 houses, resorts,
marinas, industrial areas, and a new airport terminal.
Construction has been ongoing for over a year on this
massive project. The plan has several areas designated
as wetlands, "natural", and "conservation", but an
overall environmental plan is lacking. Clearly the
large-scale development underway presents a threat to
the environment of the area and especially Booby Cay
through increased visitation and potential non-native
species introductions. Parameters must be set in place
for an environmental plan and guarantee of protected
areas. Booby Cay has been proposed for inclusion in
the Bahamas National Park system as far back as 1982,
and revisiting this issue is critical now.


Fieldwork in the Exuma Islands in 2007 with Cyclura
cychlura inornata and Cyclura rileyi. John Iverson
(Earlham College).

Field work in 2007 focused on population surveys
of Cyclura cychlulra inornata on Alligator Cay in the
Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (introduced in 1988
and 1990), on Allen Cay, other small nearby cays, and
Flat Rock Reef Cay just north of the Allen Cays (intro-
duced -10 years ago). Population surveys of Cyclura
rileyi on Bush Hill Cay in the northern Exumas and
nesting studies of C.c. inornata on Flat Rock Reef Cay
were also conducted. Blood samples for genetic analy-
sis were collected from all inornata populations. The
Alligator Cay population has experienced a significant
decline in recent years, only small juveniles <25 cm
SVL were captured or seen. That population has also
expanded to nearby Narrow Water Cay, where signs
of very large adults was evident. The population on
Flat Rock Reef Cay now numbers over 100 iguanas.
Individuals are growing faster and reproductive output
is similar to the natural Allen Cays populations, but
iguanas on Flat Rock are apparently maturing sooner
and reproducing more frequently than in the natural
populations. Preliminary population size and growth
estimates for Cyclura rileyi on Bush Hill Cay were cal-
culated based on survey work over the past five years.
Total population size is between 300 and 400 individu-
als, and growth rates suggest that juveniles reach 20 cm
SVL (the probable size at maturity) after five years in
males and eight years in females.


Rapid Ecological Assessment for Iguanas (Cyclura
cychlura cychlura) on South Andros Island.
Charles Knapp (Zoological Society of San Diego).

A 2007 assessment of South Andros Island was con-
ducted to document comprehensive distributional pat-
terns for the Andros iguana (Cyclura cychlura cychlura).
This assessment was timely because a 2006 evaluation
of the west side of North Andros Island revealed low
iguana presence in the area. Despite this information,
plans were developing to recognize the area as a prior-
ity for establishing national parks. Without a formal
assessment of South Andros Island, comprehensive data
were lacking necessary to identify critical conservation
zones across the entire island. Therefore, objectives
for this assessment included 1) locating areas of rela-
tively high iguana density and correlating density with
environmental variables, and 2) conducting general
herpetofauna surveys to produce species distribution
lists. Teams conducted visual encounter surveys from
30 sites located south of Lisbon Creek. We visited up
to seven sites per day for 10 to 120 minutes. A total
of 68.3 person hours (0.5 to 8.0 person hours per site)
was tallied searching for iguanas. Ninety-seven igua-
nas were observed at 19 sites (63% of 30 sites), while
recent tracks were observed at another site. No feral
animals were observed from any location. The isolated
small and large cays of the southern area of Andros are
relatively pristine in comparison to North Andros. No
roads exist in these areas and feral pigs are non-existent.
Additionally, commercial logging practices have never
been initiated in the area. These isolated areas support
the largest pines remaining in the Bahamas and are areas
of high conservation priority for iguanas. Based on this
survey and past research, large protected areas should
encompass Sandy Cay in South Bight and adjacent
Alcorine Cay down to Grassy Creek.


Ctenosaura similis on Utila. Photo by Jeff Lemm.



Ecology and Conservation of the Lesser Antillean
Iguana (Iguana delicatissima) on Dominica, West Indies.
Charles Knapp (Zoological Society of San Diego).

Two exploratory trips were taken to Dominica in 2007
to gauge the research and outreach needs of the Lesser
Antillean iguana (Iguana delicatissima) inhabiting the
island. Iguana surveys were concentrated along the west
coast and two primary study locations were identified
at Batali Beach and Champagne Bay. A total of 131
iguanas were captured primarily from these locations
in order to initiate a multi-year mark/recapture study
to estimate population density, survivorship, and
growth rates. Blood samples were also taken for future
gene flow analyses. Two communal nesting sites were
documented and activity recorded to help prepare for
the 2008 season. Nine road-killed iguanas were docu-
mented over a three-week span during the breeding
season. Five of the killed iguanas were confirmed gravid
females that were hit while migrating to coastal nest-
ing sites. The carcasses were discovered within a four
kilometer stretch of road above Batali Beach. Mortality
of eggs, hatchlings, and adult iguanas caused by the
August 17 passing of Hurricane Dean was confirmed.
The Abobl (Ameivafuscata) was confirmed consuming
iguana eggs as well as Hawksbill sea turtle hatchlings
while Boa constrictor was confirmed consuming adult
iguanas. In general, the iguana population on Domi-
nica appears relatively healthy compared to other islands
in the region yet factors are present and emerging that
must be mitigated to ensure the long-term survival of
the species on Dominica.

GRAND CAYMAN - Burton (in absentia)

Progress in Restoration ofaWild Population of Cyclura
/eisi to the Salina Reserve, Grand Cayman. Fred Burton
(Blue Iguana Recovery Programme).

December 2006 saw the third and largest release of
Grand Cayman blue iguanas into the Salina Reserve.
A total of 116 blue iguanas aged one and two years
old were set free. A release retreat was manufactured,
carried into the Reserve, placed, and mapped for each
iguana by a team of international volunteers and profes-
sional participants coordinated by the IRCF and with
active participation from the local community. A year
later the fourth release comprised 34 additional cap-
tive-bred iguanas, increasing the genetic diversity of the
population. Two hundred and forty iguanas have been
released into the Salina Reserve, now representing 17
founders. WCS veterinarians joined the team ahead
of both releases to heath-screen the iguanas: no health
issues arose to affect the releases. Monitoring of the
released iguanas continued in 2007 and the combined
results of fieldwork 2005-07 are currently under analysis
to assess the status and future of the population resto-
ration effort. Successful captive breeding continues
to generate genetically diverse hatchlings for future
release. The majority of the funding for the 2006-07
releases came from donors through the Durrell Wildlife
Conservation Trust and the IRCE Locally, corporate
grants continued to support the Programme's work,
notably from Walkers, Schroeders, Cobalt Coast, and
GreenLight Re. The program received international
media exposure during 2007, being featured in the
BBC Wildlife magazine, on BBC News, and on the
Travel Channel. Local and international volunteerism
continues to be vital to the program, which operates
with only two paid staff.

Male Ctenosaura baker. Photo by Jeff Lemm.

The Ctenosaura - Heloderma Project: A Novel and
Successful Approach to Conservation of Endangered
Reptiles in Northeastern Guatemala. Daniel Ariano-
Sanchez (Zootropic, Guatemala).

The Heloderma project began in early 2002 as a way
of generating scientific knowledge and developing
conservation strategies for the endangered Guatemalan
beaded lizard (Heloderma horridum charlesbogerti) and
its habitat in the semiarid region of the Motagua Valley
in northeastern Guatemala. In early 2007, the critically
endangered spiny tailed iguana Ctenosaurapaleariswas
included within the scope of this project. The project
has being carried out by the Guatemalan NGO Zoo-
tropic and since its beginning has had many partners
and sponsors to achieve the main goals of conserva-
tion. Among these partners the most important are the
International Reptile Conservation Foundation, Zoo
Atlanta, The Nature Conservancy, the National Fund
for Nature Conservation, and some private companies.
The project consists of four main fields of action: ap-
plied scientific research, education programs for local
villagers, land conservation projects, and development
of conservation policies to be adopted by governmen-
tal institutions in charge of biodiversity conservation.
Some of the most important results of the project since
its beginning are 1) the transfer of H.h. charlesbogerti
from Appendix II to Appendix I of CITES protec-
tion, 2) the development of a National Strategy for
the conservation of the Guatemalan beaded lizard and
its habitat, 3) development and implementation of a
education program focused on the villagers that interact
directly with H.h. charlesbogerti and C. palearis, and
4) the establishment of the first private protected area
for conservation of H.h. charlesbogerti and C. palearis
habitat with an extension of 138 acres.


Ecology and Use of the Guatemalan Black Iguana
Ctenosaura palearis (Squamata: Iguanidae) in the
Dry Forest of the Motagua Valley. Paola N. Coti
(Universidad del Valle de Guatemala) and B. Salazar

Ctenosaura palearis is an endemic iguana from the
region of the Motagua Valley. The ecology has been
little studied, thereby stopping actions that would al-
low conservation for this species which is threatened
by habitat loss and illegal trade. The main objective
of this research is to determinate ecological aspects and
use of the iguana in the dry forest of Motagua Valley.
We conducted surveys of the residents of the region.
In El Arenal, Cabafias, and Zacapa, we are estimating
the abundance of iguanas, feeding habits assessed by
fecal analysis, and habitat characterization using the
quadrant point method. The iguanas are used as a
source of food for human residents, but also are consid-
ered to have medicinal effects. We marked 36 iguanas
(18 female, 17 male) which were mainly found in the
cactus Stenocereus pruinosus. We obtained nine fecal
samples which indicated that iguanas are feeding on
leaves, fruits, and insects (crickets, beetles, ants, wasps).
The habitat of C. palearis is characterized by greater
frequency of S. pruinosus, Licania hypolecua, Ximena
americana, and Acacia deamii. The Guatemalan black
iguana can be regarded as a keystone species because
they play an important role in seed dispersal, like the S.
pruinosus seeds, and its trophic position since it is one
of the main prey species for the Guatemalan beaded
lizard, Heloderma horridum charlesbogerti.

Breeding Project and Scientific Work of the Iguana
Research and Breeding Station, Utila, Honduras for
the Year 2007. Monica PNrez (Iguana Research and
Breeding Station, Utila).

One of the main objectives of the Iguana Research
and Breeding Station since its foundation in 1997
has been the ex-situ breeding of Ctenosaura bakeri.
I will describe the procedures followed by the IRBS
and results for this year. The IRBS also monitors C.
bakeri in nature and I will report the results for this
year. Finally, I will present a brief description of the
scientific research supported by the IRBS.

Natural History of Ctenosaura melanosterna in the
Cayos Cochinos Archipelago, Honduras.
Chad Montgomery (Truman State University).
Iguanids throughout Central America and the Carib-
bean are rapidly declining due to anthropogenic factors
including habitat destruction and the exploitation of
eggs and adults for food. Ctenosaura melanosterna,
the black-chested spinytail iguana, exemplifies this
decline and is vulnerable due to its limited geographic
distribution, occurring only in the Rio Aguana Valley
and the Cayos Cochinos Archipelago, Honduras. The
archipelago consists of two main islands, Cayo Cochino
Grande and Cayo Cochino Pequefio. Population sam-
pling was conducted on Cayo Cochino Pequefio on 29
different days and on Cayo Cochino Grande on ten
different days between 21-May-07 and 24-August-07.
We captured a total of 121 (61M:60F: 1Unk) individual
C. melanosterna during our sampling on Cayo Cochino
Pequefio. The sex ratio was not significantly different
from 1:1. There was no significant difference in SVL
between male (19.63 +/- 7.4 cm) and female (18.29 +/-
5.49 cm) lizards when all capture data were analyzed.
We captured only four (3M:1F) C. melanosterna on
Cayo Cochino Grande, indicating that the popula-
tion is very low. On Cayo Cochino Pequefio lizards
were encountered in areas that are categorized by open
canopy and relatively high direct solar radiation. These
areas consisted of beach, low lying vegetation, open Tike
forest, palm forest edge, and forest edge (such as along
trails). Testing of published microsatellite primers for
C. hemilopha indicated that those primers cannot be
used for C melanosterna.

Molecular Analysis of the Ctenosaura melanosterna
Clade: Insights into Phylogeography, Speciation,
and Conservation. Stesha Pasachnik (University of
The genus Ctenosaura, overlapping in range with the
Mesoamerican hotspot, exemplifies the hotspots rea-
soning, brought forth by Myers et al. in 2000, in that
it is diverse, is threatened with extinction, and lacks
sufficient means of protection. Four of the five Criti-
cally Endangered species of Ctenosaura make up the
C. melanosterna clade, occurring within Honduras and
Guatemala. Due to the current situation of these spe-
cies, it is imperative that immediate evaluation of this

clade be performed in order to facilitate critical man-
agement decision making and direct future research.
Molecular phylogenic analysis has been performed
on the C. melanosterna clade. The results from both
mitochondrial and nuclear markers suggest that this
clade has gone through rapid speciation resulting in
four closely related narrow-range endemics that occur
in both insular and continental habitats. In addition,
AMOVA and D st data show support for the species
groups previously defined. The potential for hybrid-
ization between the island endemic C. bakeri and C.
similis on Utila was also evaluated. For this, we find
that though hybridization is possible, the occurrence
is far too low to be considered a threat to C. bakeri at
this time. Additional molecular analysis is needed to
further elucidate the phylogenetic relationship between
the members of the C. melanosterna clade and to better
understand the colonization rates and patterns of these
species and their congener C. similis.

Mitochondrial and Nuclear DNA Phylogeography
of the Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura pectinata)
and Related Species. Eugenia Zarza, B.C. Emerson
(University of East Anglia, UK), and Victor Reynoso
(Instituto de Biologfa, UNAM).
Regarding the origin and evolution of Neotropical
organisms, it has been considered that Quaternary cli-
matic changes were a major factor leading to speciation.
However, other views suggest that species originated
before the Pleistocene. We used mitochondrial and
nuclear sequence data for a detailed phylogeographic
study of the Mexican iguana Ctenosaurapectinata, and
related species, to discern whether Pleistocene climatic
changes affected and structured the populations of this
lowland-distributed taxon. Both datasets support the
existence of cryptic lineages. Some of them form zones
of secondary contact. Evolutionary network analyses
reveal a dynamic demographic history of fragmentation,
expansion, extinction, and recolonization. Estimated
divergence times suggest that C. pectinata originated
during the Pliocene, whereas within-species matrilines
started to differentiate during the Plio-Pleistocene and
Pleistocene. Our results highlight the influence of
Pleistocene events in shaping the distribution of genetic
variation in Neotropical lowland organisms and as
potential drivers to speciation in the region.

Population Dynamics and Habitat Use of the Tehu-
anthepec Isthmus Black Iguana in Cerro Tortuga,
Ixhatin, Mexico, and the Implementation of the
First Ctenosaura Reserve. E.C. Orozco-Sinchez, M.
del Carmen Corona-Varga (Universidad Aut6noma
de Tlaxcala), R. Antonio Matus-Velasquez, Ma.L.
Martinez-Manuel, R. Alvarez-L6pez, (Presidencia Mu-
nicipa, San Francisco Ixhuatin), and Victor Reynoso
(Instituto de Biologia, UNAM).

Population dynamics studies were carried out in Cerro
Tortuga, San Francisco Ixhuatin, Oaxaca, to evaluate
a severely hunted population of black iguanas. We
sampled ten days/month during 15 months, using seven
100-meter transects. We recorded 326 iguanas with
a maximum weight of 2500 grams (males) and 1500
grams (females). Of all records, 81% were adults, 7%
juveniles, and 12% hatchlings, and most of the sight-
ings were females. Mortality increased in March and
iguanas were most abundant from November to May.
Monthly estimated population densities were alarming,
the lowest ranging from 0.19 to 1.3 individuals/km2.
Behavioral data showed that iguanas prefer basking in
cacti (Pachycereusssp.) at a height of three meters within
a six meter escape distance from their burrow, indicating
a small home range. Most activity was registered from
noon to 1 pm when temperature ranged between 33-
350 Celsius. Preferred food was a plant called "coquito"
(Coiiratarrii niciensis) of which iguanas disperse the
seeds. Fieldwork carried out by our lab attracted the
attention of local people and inspired the implementa-
tion of the first iguana community-municipal reserve in
the area, near the village of"El Morro" in San Francisco
Ixhuatin, Oaxaca. The reserve, called Uma Cerro Tor-
tuga-Iguanas, was formally established on December 5,
2007. The reserve comprises 1472 hectares and pro-
tects: iguanas, anteaters, margay, armadillo, porcupine,
jaguarundi, kinkajou, beaded lizards, parrots, and the
endemic hare, Lepusflavigularis, among others.

Sustainable Harvesting of Black Iguana: Matrix Mod-
els. W. Medina-Mantec6n, Victor Reynoso (Instituto
de Biologia, UNAM), and E. Vega-Pefia (Instituto
Nacional de Ecologia).

A demographic analysis on a spiny-tailed iguana popu-
lation in the Tehuantepec isthmus was done to evaluate
its conservation status. Most Mexican iguanas are en-
demic and listed as Threatened in the Mexican Red List
NOM-059-2001. In Oaxaca, iguana hunting occurs
mainly during the oviposition period in spring, when
pregnant females are an appreciated dish. This prac-
tice strongly affects the population, since females with
reproductive potential are eliminated, preventing the
recruitment of new individuals. To avoid local extinc-
tion, we are preparing a sustainable-use management
plan based on the patterns of survivorship, growth, and
reproduction from a severely hunted population. We
estimated the transition probabilities for each life-cycle
category and obtained a Lefkovitch (1965) matrix to es-
timate the finite growth rates of the population (lambda
= 1.1), generate Sensitivity and Elasticity matrices, and
simulate the growth rate of the population within the
context of various harvesting regimes. Growth rates
are very sensitive to changes in juvenile survival and
age at first reproduction. Computer simulations were
used to explore possible sustainable harvest regimes
varying size classes at which iguanas could be hunted
and the years between hunting periods. We found that
if size classes between 25-40 cm only are harvested the
population increases, and that if iguanas are not har-
vested every year the population size will substantially
increase. Contrary, if individuals of size class 20-25
cm are harvested, and if hunting occurs annually, the
population will decrease considerably. Simulations are
fundamental to promote wildlife population manage-
ment strategies.


Bryan, J.J., G.P. Gerber, M.E. Welch, and C.L. Stephen.
2007. Re-evaluating the taxonomic status of the Booby
Cay Iguana, Cyclura carinata bartschi. Copeia 2007(3):
Garcia, M.A., N. Perez-Buitrago, A.O. Alvarez, PJ. Tolson.
2007. Survival, dispersal, and reproduction of headstarted
Mona Island iguanas, Cyclura cornuta stejnegeri. Applied
Herpetology 4: 357-363.

Harlow PS., M. Fisher, M. Tuiwawa, EN. Biciloa, J.M.
Palmeirim, C. Mersai, S. Naidu, A. Naikatini, B. Thaman, J.
Niukula, and E. Strand. 2007. The decline of the endemic
Fijian crested iguana Brachylophus vitiensis in the Yasawa and
Mamanuca archipelagos, western Fiji. Oryx 41: 44-50.

Iverson, J.B. 2007. Juvenile survival in the Allen Cays
rock iguana (Cyclura cychlura inornata). Copeia 2007(3):

Knapp, C. 2007. Ecology and conservation of the Lesser
Antillean iguana (Iguana delicatissima). Iguana 14(4):

ISG Newsletter
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Knapp, C. 2007. Potential for iguana-based ecotourism on
Andros: a first assessment. Bahamas Naturalist and Journal
of Science 2(1): 10-17.

Knapp, C.R. and A.K. Owens. 2008. Nesting behavior and
the use of termitaria by the Andros iguana (Cyclura cychlura
cychlura). Journal of Herpetology 42(1): 46-53.

Lorvelec, O., M. Pascal, C. Pavis, and P Feldmann. 2007.
Amphibians and reptiles of the French West Indies: inven-
tories, threats, and conservation. Applied Herpetology
4: 131-161.

MacDonald, E.A., N.M. Czekala, G.P Gerber, and A.C. Al-
berts. 2007. Diurnal and seasonal patterns in corticosterone
in the Turks and Caicos iguana (Cyclura carinata carinata).
Caribbean Journal of Science 43: 266-272.

Maria, R., J. Ramer, T. Reichard, P. Tolson, and M. Chris-
topher. 2007. Health assessment of free-ranging Ricord's
iguanas (Cyclura ricordi) in the Dominican Republic. Journal
of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 38(3): 414-419.

Perez-Buitrago N., A. Sabat, M.A. Garcia, S. Funk, A. Alva-
rez, and 0. McMillan. 2007. Spatialecology of the Mona
Island iguana (Cyclura cornuta stejnegeri) in an undisturbed
environment. Applied Herpetology 4: 347-355.

Perez-Buitrago N. and A. Sabat. 2007. Natal dispersal,
home range, and habitat use ofhatchlings of the Mona Island
iguana (Cyclura cornuta stejnegeri). Applied Herpetology
4: 365-376.

Tandora Grant
Allison Alberts

Applied Animal