Multiyear Sampling Reveals an Increased Population Density of an Endemic Lizard after the Establishment of an Invasive Snake on Aruba

The island of Aruba is home to several endemic species, and has been colonized recently by the invasive boa, Boa constrictor. We present data for a multiple-year sampling effort on one of Aruba's endemic species, the Aruban Whiptail Lizard (Cnemidophorus arubensis). Our sampling began before the invasion of B. constrictor and ended after their firm establishment, thus affording us the unique opportunity to document the potential effects of this invasive snake on the endemic lizard. Additionally, we compare our data with earlier studies with an average lizard density of 235.1/ha (SE = 73.42, n = 11). After the invasion of the B. constrictor we calculated densities of C. arubensis as high as 2,185/ha. Although B. constrictor regularly preys upon C. arubensis, the relationship between B. constrictor and C. arubensis likely represents ecological facilitation of the lizard species. Herein, we further develop a hypothesis that may explain how the invasive B. constrictor has caused an increase in the population of this endemic lizard. Additionally, we suggest and discuss a few alternative hypotheses that may also account for this observed pattern of increased density. This study identifies a need for continued monitoring of Aruba's native fauna, as well as the need for further experimental approaches to understand the mechanism by which invasive predators ecologically interact with native prey.

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