Iguana Specialist Group newsletter (ISG newsletter)
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Title: Iguana Specialist Group newsletter (ISG newsletter)
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Publication Date: 1998
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West Indian Iguana Specialist Group

I Newsletter

IUCN - The World Conservation Union
Species Survival Commission

Volume 1, Number 1, Fall 1998

In This Issue

0 Group Activites....................... 1
0 Taxon Reports ........................ 3
0 Recent Literature................... 7
SWIISG contact information..... 8


WIISG Newsletter
Published by the
Zoological Society of San Diego
Center for Reproduction of
Endangered Species
P.O. Box 120551, San Diego, CA 92112

Senterfor Reproduction ofEndangeredSpecie
Allison Alberts
Associate Editors:
Tandora Grant
Jeff Lemm

West Indian iguanas form a unique group of species inhabiting tropical
dry forests throughout the Bahamas and the Greater and Lesser Antilles.
They are among the most endangered of the world's lizards, primarily
because much of their fragile island habitat has been eliminated by human
development or severely degraded by invasive species. Because they are
likely to be important seed dispersers for many endemic plants, the loss of
West Indian iguanas has serious consequences for the ecosystems in which
they live. Through partnerships with government agencies, conservation
organizations, and research institutions, the IUCN/SSC West Indian
Iguana Specialist Group (WIISG) seeks to help design and implement
immediate and effective conservation measures on behalf of this unique
group of lizards.

This is the first issue of the biannual newsletter of the WIISG. The
purpose of the newsletter is to update group members and other interested
parties on current and planned activities of the group, as well as to provide
a forum for discussion of issues relevant to the conservation of West
Indian iguanas. The future success of the newsletter will depend on timely
contributions from group members and others. Whenever you have items
of interest, please submit them to: Tandora Grant, Center for Reproduc-
tion of Endangered Species, Zoological Society of San Diego, P.O. Box
120551, San Diego, CA 92112 USA.

Group Activities

W' ISG Logo * Working from photographs supplied by the
Department of Archives, Bahamas National Museum Collection,
Tandora Grant (San Diego Zoo) has designed a logo for the WIISG. The
logo is based on a ceremonial stool called a duho on which Lucayan
leaders or caiciques would be seated when performing official functions.
The mahogany-carved duho on which the logo is based was discovered in
a cave on Long Island in the Bahamas and is believed to represent a very
early artistic example of a West Indian iguana. Two other duhos were also
found in the cave, one of which depicts a turtle. All are part of the perma-
nent collection of the Bahamas National Museum.

Action Plan Update * Publication of the
WIISG Status Survey and Conservation Action
Plan for West Indian Iguanas is now underway. The
draft document, 157 pages in length, has been re-
viewed for content by the SSC Chair's office and for
format by the IUCN Headquarters in Gland, Switzer-
land. Currently, page layout is being carried out by
the Publications Unit of Fauna & Flora International.
Through generous donations from the Fort Worth
Zoo, the Denver Zoological Foundation, the Milwau-
kee Country Zoo, the Sedgwick County Zoological
Society, and the Saint Louis Zoological Park, a total of
$6,800 has been raised to cover publication costs.

Fund Raising 4 Jeff Lemm (San Diego Zoo)
has designed an attractive T-shirt to help raise
funds for WIISG activities. Printing of the shirts was
the generous donation of Allen Repashy at Southswell
ScreenArts. It features a 4-color drawing of two adult
male Cuban iguanas in a face-off position on both the
front and back of the shirt, with the captions "IUCN
SSC West Indian Iguana Specialist Group" and
"Working to Save the World's Most Endangered
Lizards" (see below). The shirt is ash-gray in color
and available sizes include: Youth M and Adult S, M,
L, XL, and XXL. The cost is $14 per shirt, ($10 for
youth size) of which $11 goes to the WIISG. To place
an order, please send checks made out to the FORT
WORTH ZOO to Jeff Lemm, San Diego Zoo, P.O.
Box 120551, San Diego, CA 92112. To date, over
$1,600 has been raised through sales of the shirt.
Sales of the West Indian iguana educational poster
produced in Forth Worth two years ago also continue
to be strong and were used to fund travel expenses for
WIISG work on Anegada this year. Posters have now
been distributed in several key range countries,
including Anguilla, the Bahamas, the British Virgin
Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Dominican Repub-
lic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Turks and Caicos

SUCN/SSC Wildlife Trade Programme * At
the request of the IUCN/SSC Wildlife Trade
Programme, Rick Hudson (Fort Worth Zoo) has
agreed to serve as the WIISG representative for trade
issues within the group. The major focus of this
program is to identify species threatened by trade and
to recommend actions to address such threats. Pri-
mary objectives of the program include:

* To identify situations where trade in wild
species appears unsustainable or detrimentally affects
the status of non target species

* To focus on gaps in knowledge of the biology
and status of species in trade

* To develop and promote those actions and/or
mechanisms necessary to ensure the conservation
of species detrimentally affected by trade

* To ensure that the SSC's expertise is used to
influence the decisions of CITES and other relevant

* To provide scientific support and capacity
building to the Parties to CITES (and other relevant
international agreements) in implementing conven-
tions at national and regional levels

* To increase understanding about CITES and
other relevant agreements within the SSC network

N ew Publication Available * The 1997
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants, represent-
ing 20 years of cumulative work and contributions of
data and services from thousands of SSC and other
experts and nine major institutional partners, is now
available for sale through:

IUCN Publications Services Unit
219c Huntingdon Road
Cambridge CB3 ODL
United Kingdom
tel: 011-44-1223-277894
fax: 011-44-1223-277175
email: iucn-psu@wcmc.org.uk.

The cost of the book, which is 862 pages long, is �30,
US$45. IUCN SSC members will receive a 33%
discount. This price does not include shipping and


White Cay iguana (Cyclura rileyi cristata)
The White Cay iguana remains a subspecies
of great concern to the WIISG, with an esti-
mated population less than 200 individuals.
Fortunately, the Bahamian government has
now formally endorsed two types of conser-
vation activities for this taxon, both of /
which are moving forward. A $3,000
grant to the WIISG from the Chicago
Zoological Society has facilitated the y
eradication of black rats from White /
Cay. This project was coordinated by
Mark Day, Bill Hayes, Sandra
Buckner (Bahamas National Trust), . .. .
and The Bahamas Department of .:-..
Agriculture with rodenticide
provided by Zeneca Agrochemi-
cals. Two cays that appear very
promising as potential sites for
establishment of a second wild
population have also been identified. Although they
have yet to be surveyed on the ground, both look
appropriate from the air and are government-owned.
The WIISG will work with the IUCN/SSC Reintro-
duction Specialist Group to develop translocation

Jamaican iguana (Cyclura collei)
The headstarting program initiated at
Kingston's Hope Zoo for the critically endangered
Jamaican iguana continues to move forward under the
direction of curator Nadin Thompson, with over 100
animals in captivity. As of June, 1998, 20 headstarted
juvenile iguanas had been outfitted with
radiotransmitters and released into the Hellshire Hills
of Jamaica. At least 14 of the released iguanas, cur-
rently being monitored by Richard Nelson (Natural
Resources Conservation Authority) and Edwin Duffus
(Jamaican Iguana Research and Conservation Group),
are known to have established home ranges and are
feeding quite well. Byron Wilson and Peter Vogel
(University of the West Indies) have developed an
extensive mongoose trapping program for the area,
which has also trapped several rats and cats. As a result
of the extensive presence of conservation personnel in
the field, core iguana habitat has remained free of
charcoal burners, pig hunters, and stray dogs. The
total captive population now stands at approximately
100 individuals with 22 in the U.S. and the remainder
at the Hope Zoo. Captive reproduction has not yet

occurred but is expected this
S *''Funding has been
obtained by Rick Hudson and
Allison Alberts to develop
o.. *ri health screening protocols for
S * headstarted juvenile Jamaican
... . ..-'.. and Anegada iguanas prior to
_ . release into the wild. A $2,000
. / grant from the Pittsburgh Zoologi-
S/ cal Society will facilitate parasite
evaluation, hematologic studies, and
serum biochemical analyses on up to
50 juveniles of both species. Another
grant from the St. Louis Zoo will
provide $6,700 for nutritional analysis
of free-ranging and Hope Zoo captive
- , iguana diets. Funding support for
both the field project and the Hope
Zoo headstart program continues to
be solid, with 20 U.S. zoos now
contributing resources. Major supporters include the
American Zoo and Aquarium Association, Disney
Foundation, and the Fort Worth, Central Florida,
Indianapolis, San Diego, Sedgwick County, Toledo,
and Tulsa Zoos.

Ricord's iguana (Cyclura ricordi)
Bill Christie (Indianapolis Zoo) and Jose
Ottenwalder (UNDP-GEF Biodiversity Project,
Dominican Republic) are initiating fieldwork on
critically endangered Ricord's iguanas in the Domini-
can Republic. This species has a very limited distribu-
tion, occurring only in southwestern Dominican
Republic, where it is restricted to the arid Valle de
Neiba and the most xeric portion of the Peninsula de
Barahona coastal lowlands. A trip to that country in
1997 revealed high quality habitat on the mainland
with dense Opuntia cactus that will unfortunately
make population censusing difficult if not impossible
there. However, Isla Cabritos is much more easily
traversed, and the field team saw about 35 Ricord's
iguanas and 12 rhinoceros iguanas (C. cornuta cornuta)
there, some of which were sampled for future genetic
analyses. Local interest in an iguana study appears
strong, and censusing of Isla Cabritos is scheduled to
begin in 1998.

cT er er

Mona Island iguana (Cyclura cornuta stejnegeri)
A major threat to the survival of the endan-
gered Mona Island iguana is invasive species, particu-
larly feral goats and pigs. Fencing of remote nest sites
(two 20m x 15m plots) for iguanas on Mona Island is
now underway, with the support of the Puerto Rico
Department of Natural and Environmental Resources,
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Caribbean Office,
the U.S. Coast Guard, the Sociedad Chelonia, and the
Toledo Zoo. Funding in the amount of $7,500 is
being sought to repair coastal fencing as well. Letters
of thanks on behalf of the WIISG have been sent to
project participants. In addition, Miguel Garcia
(Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmen-
tal Resources) and Peter Tolson, Tim Reichard, and
Tim French (Toledo Zoo), have begun to assess the
nature of a troubling blindness syndrome seen in
several adult iguanas on Mona Island. Nestor Perez
(University of Puerto Rico) will be undertaking his
thesis research on Mona Island. He is particularly
interested in studying recruitment and survivorship of
juvenile iguanas, and will be utilizing radiotelemetry in
his work. In addition, he will be measuring overall
population size, quantifying egg loss to pigs and rats,
and determining the effect of exotic vegetation on
incubation of iguana eggs. Finally, 33 blood samples
from wild iguanas on Mona have been provided to
Scott Davis for phylogenetic analysis.
e e Ce

Anegada iguana (Cyclurapinguis)
The critically endangered Anegada iguana
originally occurred in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin
Islands, and the British Virgin Islands, however,
hunting, habitat loss, and invasive species have reduced
this species to a single island, Anegada, with perhaps
less than 200 individuals remaining. At the request of
the British Virgin Islands National Parks Trust
(BVINPT), the WIISG is assisting in the development
of an integrated approach to ensure the recovery of this
species. In October, 1997, Rondel Smith (BVINPT),
Rick Hudson, and Jeff Lemm constructed a small
headstarting facility on Anegada Island to house three
iguana hatchlings. Though field time was extremely
limited, several adult and sub-adult iguanas, as well as
tail drags and scat samples, were observed in the Bones
Bight area, and a possible nesting site on a small island
in Manhead Pond was identified. Blood samples
collected from a wild adult male at Bones Bight,
another male in captivity, and the three juveniles in the
headstarting facility have been delivered to Scott Davis
for genetic analysis. Most local residents on Anegada

are aware of the plight of the iguana, and perceive the
large feral cat population as the causative factor. Jo-
seph Smith Abbott (BVINPT) facilitated productive
meetings with Louis Potter (Town and Country
Planning Department/Office of the Chief Minister)
and Sheila Brown (Ministry of Natural Resources and
Labour). To ensure a long term partnership, the
WIISG has signed a formal Memorandum of Under-
standing with BVINPT to work cooperatively on
developing conservation strategies for Anegada iguanas.
Building on this, Joseph Smith Abbott and Mark Day
(Fauna & Flora International) have received a major
grant in the amount of �28,750 from the Environ-
ment, Science, and Energy Department of the UK
Foreign & Commonwealth Office to facilitate conser-
vation activities on Anegada. The goals of this pro-
gram are:
* To conduct population censusing and mapping
at nesting sites and other potential sites where adults
may be found.
* To expand the current headstart facility to
accommodate growth in the number and size of
animals reared in the facility.
* To train Senior Terrestrial Warden Rondel
Smith in iguana husbandry and facility maintenance at
other iguana rearing facilities currently operating in the
* To develop environmental education materials
to raise public awareness of the importance and vulner-
ability of iguanas on Anegada.
* To conduct a feasibility study for the control or
eradication of cats on Anegada, in partnership with the
IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group.

er ey er

San Salvador iguana (Cyclura rileyi rileyi)
San Salvador iguanas are presently restricted
largely to five tiny offshore cays (Gaulin, Goulding,
Green, Low, Manhead) and two cays within Great
Lake (Guana and Pigeon), with a remaining total
population of approximately 500-600 individuals.
Recent fieldwork by Bill Hayes and Ron Carter (Loma
Linda University) on San Salvador iguanas suggests
that numbers remain fairly stable other than a recent
decline on Green Cay and continuing declines on Low
Cay. Potential threats include predation by rats,
hurricane damage to vegetation, decimation of cacti by
introduced moths, and smuggling.
er er er

Allen's Cay iguana (Cyclura cychlura inornata)
For his thesis research, Chuck Knapp (Univer-
sity of Florida) will be studying an introduced popula-
tion of Allen's Cay iguanas translocated by John
Iverson (Earlham College) and Peggy Hall in 1988 and
1990. He will be investigating the characteristics of
the population as it increases, focusing on population
dynamics, spatial partitioning, home range, and
paternity lines. He is particularly interested in using
microsatellite DNA to construct a family tree of the
population to determine the characteristics of success-
ful breeders. A trip to the Exumas in March of 1998
was very successful, yielding blood samples from 29
iguanas, including four of the original founders. The
population appears healthy at between 50 and 60
iguanas. The work is being sponsored by the Shedd

ev er 4e

Lesser Antillean iguana (Iguana delicatissima)
With support from the UK Foreign & Com-
monwealth Office, Glenn Gerber and Karim Hodge
(Anguilla National Trust) conducted a conservation
assessment of Lesser
Antillean iguanas on
Anguilla in Fall, 1997,
managed by the Anguilla
National Trust and Fauna
& Flora International.
Although relatively few
animals were located,
valuable data were
obtained on distribution
and abundance, habitat
suitability, abundance
and sex ratio, ther-
moregulatory behavior,
feeding ecology, potential
nest sites, and current
threats, including the
recent colonization of
Anguilla by common iguanas. In addition, blood
samples were collected for genetic analyses. Beginning
in October, 1998, Steve Reichling (Memphis Zoo),
Brian Leysner (CARMABI Ecological Institute,
Curagao), and Mark Day will conduct a conservation
assessment of this species on St. Eustatius. A study of
current distribution will be followed by a population
estimate using a combination of mark-recapture and
distance sampling techniques. An assessment will also
be made of the value to iguana conservation of two
newly designated national parks.

Richard Gibson (Jersey Wildlife Preservation
Trust) successfully hatched the first captive-bred Lesser
Antillean iguana last year and both offspring and
parents are continuing to do well. Other institutions
housing this species include the Memphis Zoo and the
San Diego Zoo's Center for Reproduction of Endan-
gered Species. A WIISG-based working group, consist-
ing of Mark Day, Michel Breuil (Paris Museum of
Natural History), Glenn Gerber, Karim Hodge, Steve
Reichling, Brian Leysner, Richard Gibson and Quentin
Bloxam (Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust), and
Allison Alberts has been established to address the
implementation of conservation recommendations for
this species.
erer er

Common iguana (Iguana iguana)
Since 1996, James Gilardi (Wildlife Preserva-
tion Trust International) has been working in collabo-
ration with the Forestry Department on St. Lucia in
dry forest areas of the island where common iguanas
once occurred. However, extensive fieldwork in these
areas has not resulted in detection of any animals,
suggesting that iguana
populations there are
now extinct or extremely
rare. Potential causes of
the decline include
hunting for food, egg
predation by rats, pigs,
and dogs, and predation
on juveniles by cat and
mongooses. There is a
o. small population of 3.4
animals in captivity in
the zoo in Union, St.
Lucia. These animals
have previously laid eggs,
: but they have not been
Cyclura pinguis hatching incubated due to lack of
a proper facility to care
for eggs and young and local expertise to design a
captive breeding program. Genetic analyses carried out
by Scott Davis indicate that five of the St. Lucia cap-
tives are genetically identical and distinct from main-
land green iguanas, showing divergence levels of 2%
(equivalent to subspecies or higher in Cyclura). Given
their precarious status in the wild, St. Lucia iguanas are
clearly in need of immediate conservation attention.

CT 4? CT

Recent Literature

Alberts, A.C. and T.D. Grant. 1997. Use of a non-
contact temperature reader for measuring skin surface
temperatures and estimating internal body tempera-
tures in lizards. Herpetological Review 28:32-33.

Alberts, A.C., A.M. Perry, J.M. Lemm, and J.A.
Phillips. 1997. Effects of incubation temperature and
water potential on growth and thermoregulatory
behavior of hatchling rock iguanas (Cyclura nubila).
Copeia 1997:766-776.

Alberts, A.C., M.L. Oliva, M.B. Worley, S.R. Telford,
Jr., PJ. Morris, and D.L. Janssen. 1998. The need for
pre-release health screening in animal translocations: a
case study of the Cuban iguana (Cyclura nubila).
Animal Conservation 1:165-172.

Arest6, M. 1998. Cyclura. The ground iguanas of the
Caribbean. Reptilia 2 (Mar/Apr):7 pp.

Bendon, J. 1997. Mayaguana blues. Journal of the
International Iguana Society (Iguana Times) 6(1):3-9.

Bendon, J. 1997. Moon over Mayaguana: return to
Booby Cay. Journal of the International Iguana
Society (Iguana Times) 6(4):81-87.

Bowler, J.K. 1996. Taxon management account:
Rhinoceros iguana, Cyclura cornuta cornuta. Pages 1-
10 in S. Hammack, ed. Taxon Management Accounts
for the Lizard Advisory Group. American Zoo and
Aquarium Association, Fort Worth, Texas.

Burton, F. 1996. Any hope for Grand Cayman's blue
iguana? Journal of the International Iguana Society
(Iguana Times) 5(4):75-81.

Christie, B. 1996. Taxon management account:
Ricord's iguana, Cyclura ricordi. Pages 1-7 in S.
Hammack, ed. Taxon Management Accounts for the
Lizard Advisory Group. American Zoo and Aquarium
Association, Fort Worth, Texas.

Davis, S. 1996. Genetic studies of the Jamaican
iguana. Journal of the International Iguana Society
(Iguana Times) 5(3):57.

Dorge, R. 1996. A tour of the Grand Cayman blue
iguana (Cyclura nubila lewisi) captive-breeding facility.
Reptiles 4(9):32-42.

Ehrig, R. 1996. Cyclura forest habitat. Journal of the
International Iguana Society (Iguana Times) 5(3):58-

Florin, D.A. 1996. Operation sea signal and the
Cuban ground iguana. Reptile and Amphibian Maga-
zine Sep/Oct:66-70.

Fuhri, C. 1997. Status of the Sandy Cay rock iguana,
Cyclura rileyi cristata. Journal of the International
Iguana Society (Iguana Times) 6(2):27-30.

Hayes, W.K. 1997. Decline of the Sandy Cay iguana.
Journal of the International Iguana Society (Iguana
Times) 6(2):31.

Hudson, R. 1996. AZA Species Survival Plan Profile:
West Indian rock iguanas. Endangered Species Update

Knapp, C. 1996. Cruising the Exumas for iguanas.
John G. Shedd Aquarium Watershedd 17(2):1-3,13.

Lazell, J. 1997. The stout iguana of the British Virgin
islands. Journal of the International Iguana Society
(Iguana Times) 6(4):75-80.

Lemm, J.M. and A.C. Alberts. 1997. Guided by
nature: Conservation research and captive husbandry
of the Cuban iguana (Cyclura nubila nubila). Reptiles

Rehak, I. and P. Valensky. 1997. Second generation of
Cuban iguanas, Cyclura nubila, born in Prague Zoo.
Gazella 24:93-107.

Tenlkn, R. 1997. Mona-saaren leguanni, Cyclura
cornuta stejnegeri, Barbour and Noble 1916.
Herpetomania 6(3):5-13.

Warner, D.A. 1997. An overview on the evolution of
the family Iguanidae. Journal of the International
Iguana Society (Iguana Times) 6(3):57-65.

Vogel, P, R. Nelson, and R. Kerr. 1996. Conservation
strategy for the Jamaican iguana, Cyclura collei. Pages
395-406 in R. Powell and R.W Henderson, eds.
Contributions of West Indian Herpetology: A Tribute
to Albert Schwartz. Society for the Study of Amphib-
ians and Reptiles, Ithaca, New York.

Wissman, M.A., and B. Parsons. 1998. Cesarean
section in a Cyclura iguana. Reptiles 6(3):84-89.

WIISG Contact Information

Sandra Buckner, Co-Chair
Bahamas National Trust
Email: sbuckner@bahamas.net.bs
Jose Ottenwalder, Deputy Chair
UNDP-GEF Biodiversity Project,
Dominican Republic
Email: biodiversidad@codetel.net.do

Allison Alberts, Co-Chair
Zoological Society of San Diego
Email: aalberts@sandiegozoo.org
Richard Hudson, Deputy Chair
Fort Worth Zoo
Email: iguanhudso@aol.com

The World Conservation Union