Record Details

Smith, Geoffrey R;Iverson, John B
Effects of tourism on body size, growth, condition, and demography in the Allen Cays Iguana, Cyclura cychlura inornata, on Leaf Cay, The Bahamas
Iguanas: Biology, Systematics, and Conservation
Book Section
John B Iverson, Tandora D Grant, Charles R Knapp and Stesha A Pasachnik
Monograph 6
Herpetological Conservation and Biology
Amblyrhynchus cristatus;Cyclura cychlura inornata
The feeding of wildlife by ecotourists has become increasingly popular, but its effects are not well studied. The endangered Allen Cays Iguana is known to occur naturally on only two small cays in the northern Exuma Islands (The Bahamas). One of those cays, Leaf Cay (4 ha) has an easily accessible beach to which up to 150 people converge each day to feed the iguanas. However, iguanas from other parts of the cay rarely ever see an ecotourist. This study investigated the differences in body size, growth, body condition, and demography of the iguanas on opposite sides of Leaf Cay. Iguanas on the human-impacted side of the cay were larger, grew faster, and weighed more (relative to body length), but had similar survival rates as those without human interaction. Capture sex ratios did not differ between sides of the cay and were generally not different from a 1:1 ratio. Although these data might be interpreted as positive impacts of supplemental feeding, when viewed with previously published differences in behavior and blood chemistry, the long-term effects of these feeding activities are of potential concern.