Record Details

Alberts, Allison C
Developing recovery strategies for West Indian rock iguanas
Endangered Species Update
Journal Article
Cyclura nubila nubila;behavior;conservation;threat status;reproduction
As a result of habitat degradation and the negative effects of invasive species, the rock iguanas of the West Indies are among the most endangered lizards in the world. Before recovery plans are instituted for critically endangered species, it is important to gather as much information as possible to assess whether or not these programs are likely to succeed. Given that relatively healthy populations still exist in the wild, the Cuban iguana (Cyclura nubila) can serve as a valuable model for developing conservation strategies for other endangered rock iguanas. Since 1993, we have been studying Cuban iguanas on the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay. To investigate management options for small populations, we carried out a long-term field experiment in which dominant males were temporarily relocated in an effort to provide a greater percentage of males the opportunity to contribute to the gene pool. We also conducted an experimental reintroduction to examine how hatchlings retained in captivity prior to release fare in the wild. Our results to date indicate that released juveniles have adapted well in terms of growth, thermoregulation, predator avoidance, and social interactions. As a group, rock iguanas appear to be excellent candidates for headstart/release programs.