First records of three new lizard species and a range expansion of a fourth lizard species introduced to Aruba


The Caribbean region is emerging as a hotspot for the spread of non-native reptile species (Powell et al. 2011; Powell and Henderson 2012). Two lizard groups, anoles (species from the genus Anolis) and geckos (species from the infraorder Gekkota), are among the most prominent of introduced reptiles on Caribbean islands (Helmus et al. 2014; Perella and Behm 2020). Anole and gecko species are frequently introduced accidentally through the live plant trade, but may also be introduced intentionally as pets (Kraus 2009). The Caribbean region is also a reptile biodiversity hotspot and most islands have unique endemic anole and gecko species (Myers et al. 2000; Hedges 2011). Therefore, identifying newly introduced gecko and anole species, including their introduction pathways and ecological impacts, is a conservation priority.

Aruba has 10 previously recorded introductions of non-native reptile species, including two anoles, Anolis sagrei (Duméril & Bibron, 1837) and A. porcatus (Gray, 1840), and four geckos, Gonatodes albogularis (Duméril & Bibron, 1836), G. antillensis (Lidth de Jeude, 1887), G. vittatus (Lichtenstein & Martens, 1856), and Hemidactylus mabouia (Moreau de Jonnès 1818), making it one of the most invaded islands in the Caribbean (van Buurt 2005, 2011). Aruba is also one of the most economically connected islands in the region which likely explains the high rate of introductions (Powell et al. 2011; Helmus et al. 2014). Interestingly, unlike most Caribbean islands, the natural habitat in Aruba is quite arid and may be difficult for species to invade if they are not adapted to those conditions. Many of the non-native species may be using anthropogenic habitat that receives irrigation subsidies. Given the high rate of introductions and harsh natural conditions, we searched anthropogenic habitat on Aruba for non-native reptile species. Here, we report the first observations of two new non-native anole and one non-native gecko species on Aruba. In addition, we report a range expansion of a non-native anole species that was previously observed at only one location on Aruba. To better understand the context and potential impacts of the four introduced species we documented on Aruba, we compiled information from the literature regarding the timing, introduction pathway, and ecological impacts of those four species in their introduced ranges within the Caribbean region.

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