Population size and feeding ecology of the Lesser Antillean Iguana
A reptile species that suffers from anthropogenic changes is Iguana delicatissima. This species was common on all Lesser Antillean islands from Martinique to Anguilla but since 1996 the species is vulnerable. Nowadays, however, the species only exists on St. Eustatius in the Dutch Caribbean. Native plant species might be dependent on I. delicatissima and its extinction could lead to biodiversity loss on St. Eustatius. Therefore it is important to gather as much data as possible on population size, feeding behaviour and habitat preferences, as well as create artificial nests. The information provided by this research can help the future conservation of I. delicatissima. Information about habitat preferences and feeding behaviour was documented. To create wooden artificial nests a literature study was used. A total of 128 individuals were located across the island during a secondary beading study, primarily next to roads. I. delicatissima were found in different trees and bushes and were documented eating invasive plants like Antigonon leptopus but also native plants such as Citharexylum spinosum. Earlier research on reptiles suggests that roadsides and surfaces attract reptiles for thermoregulatory purposes. Non-native plant species do not appear to have much influence on I. delicatissima. The 128 individuals located is below the recommended minimum viable population size of 5000 animals, however it is not currently possible to give an accurate population estimate from this study. There are a number of different threats to the population, such as free-roaming pets, habitat loss and habitat degradation. To conclude, more research is needed for the future conservation of I. delicatissima.
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