Phelsuma antanosy (Phelsuma antanosy)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 172515963
A genetic approach to conserving the critically endangered day gecko Phelsuma antanosy in Madagascar
This project is a collaboration between researchers at the University of East Anglia, UK, and local conservation NGO SEEDmadagascar.
Phelsuma antanosy is critically endangered due to habitat fragmentation and persists only within small, isolated populations, likely showing supressed genetic diversity. P. antanosy's stronghold is Ste Luce, where it inhabits several forest fragments, however the fragment housing the largest population is scheduled for demolition by a new ilminite mine before 2028.
The species has been identified as an urgent candidate for conservation action (Raxworthy & Nussbaum, 1993; Azafady UK, 2012), be it in the form of genetic capture and captive breeding for reintroduction, genetic rescue through translocation (Weeks et al., 2011), or improvement of habitat connectivity. Development of a coherent and effective conservation strategy is currently inhibited by a lack of data on population genetic structuring and its causes.
We aim to collect tissue samples alongside morphometic and habitat data from several populations. This information will then be used to characterise population structuring, quantify the relative importance of habitat variables on genetic health of populations and make reccomendations on how best to relocate the individuals from the mined fragment to maximise species fitness.
This study will provide the empirical, evolutionary genetic basis on which to build a robust conservation plan to preserve P.antanosy, while giving a wider perspective on how other reptile species with analogous life history traits may be responding to the pervasive and concerted threats of habitat fragmentation and global climate change.
10/03/18 - Fieldwork is underway!
Having optained permits for a relatively limited number of tissue samples from the Malagasy governement, and following some key meetings, including with the company due to establish the mine in Ste Luce, we have taken the decision to focus the study in Ste Luce, where the threat to Phelsuma antansy is most severe and imminent.
26/04/18 - Fieldwork complete.
The fieldwork phase of this project is now complete. Habitat data, along with morphometric measurements and tissue samples from P.antanosy individuals have been collected from all 4 target fragments in Sainte Luce.
We will very soon be heading back to the UK with data and samples to begin the analysis to see what we can tell about this amazing species and how we can contribute to its conservation.
Project 172515963 location - Madagascar, Africa