Ricord's Iguana (Cyclura ricordii)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 12253400
Hispaniola is one of the largest and most diverse islands in the Caribbean and is unique in being the only one with two native iguana species, Cyclura cornuta and C. ricordii. This project will join ecological and genetic techniques to elucidate the population structure and environmental requirements necessary for conserving the target species and creating a holistic management strategy. We will use molecular data to better understand the genetic variation that exists, identify sources of variation, to evaluate whether inbreeding or outbreeding depression pose a threat, and to test the exchangeability of populations within both species. These data are vital in understanding how best to manage for each species, and will allow us to make recommendations concerning the creation of a rescue population and ex situ breeding and release activities. Confiscation of illegally collected individuals is highly prevalent and with sufficient genetic data we can advise for the release of these animals into the wild (in accordance with proper health screening). Lastly, while collecting the necessary genetic samples we will be able to evaluate the range and condition of each population, a vital piece of information, particularly for C. cornuta, as little current information exists. Ecologically, we will study nesting behavior, daily activity patterns, and home range to identify the key environmental characteristics required to ensure the preservation of the target species. We will address differences in nest sites by characterizing each nest located in terms of date of egg deposition, species, habitat type, soil type and moisture content, depth, incubation temperature, and proximity to neighboring nests of conspecifics and congeners. These data will allow us be elucidate differences between the species. In order to better understand daily activity patterns and spatial use of the habitat by each species we will monitor individuals using telemetry techniques. Home range and habitat use will be estimated such that the entire space used as well as the space most regularly used by each sex and age class of each species will be calculated. This will allow us to understand the overall habitat preference of each species through the seasons.
Project 12253400 location - Dominican Republic, North America