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Tenerife speckled lizard (Gallotia intermedia)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 152511662

Describe and understand the key features of the food web that support the local speckled lizard populations, as conservation tool.

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 152511662) - Tenerife speckled lizard - Awarded $10,000 on February 10, 2016

The Tenerife speckled lizard (Gallotia intermedia) is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. Widely spread in the past, only two populations has remain actually. One of them is located in the coastal cliffs of Guaza mountain in the south side of the Tenerife Island. The estimate total number of animals in 2014 of Guaza population show a reduction of the 32% compare with 2004. These lizards inhabit small platforms and some ravines along the coastal cliffs, in places of high slope and difficult access, were the abundance of feral cats and rats are lower, its main threat. These areas are commonly share with seabird colonies and a coastal succulent shrub vegetation, with numerous endemic genera e.g Euphorbia spp. and other non indigenous flora e.g. Opuntia spp.

Little is know about this population of the endangered canary speckled lizard. This new project will increase the knowledge about the biology, ecology and population trends of the species, completing previous work and giving a temporary vision of the evolution of this population.

Chief goals for this project are identify the possible key effect of the seagull (Larus michahellis) colony of Guaza mountain through the trophic pathway (marine subsidies) and anti-predator behaviour, which may be benefiting the speckled lizard population. Moreover we have the following objectives:

  • Estimating the current size and distribution of the Tenerife speckled lizard population in Guaza Mountain.
  • Estimating the current size and distribution of seagulls colonies in Guaza Mountain.
  • Indentify the current threats for the conservation Tenerife speckled lizard in Guaza mountain.
  • Determine the trophic niche and feeding ecology of the speckled lizards and its dependence of marine subsidies originate from seabird colonies.
  • Implement a conservation plan based in the food-web restoration of the speckled lizard.
  • Divulgation actions among local population. 

In the last months, field surveys about seagull colony distribution and density, as well as plant community of Guaza mountain has been started. During these fields surveys, observations of speckled lizards feeding on leaf, flowers and fruits of endemic plants never before reported, were made. Also new localities, were the lizard as never been detected before, have been identified and 14 speckled lizards were captured in the first census campaign.

Apart from the field work, our team carried out a series of divulgative activities about the speckled lizard, a specie unknown for most of the local population. In March a visit was conducted in collaboration to the Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO/BirdLife ) to the guaza mountain to show the natural habitat of the Speckled lizard and raising awareness of this specie and its situation. Following the same approach than the field visits Asociación Tonina installed a workstation in the "Exhibition of Young Researchers from Tenerife", were the proyect team impart divulgation and informative talks of the proyect. Along with this talks, a poster about the lizard were installed and leaflets, showing the importance of the native flora and fauna, were distributed. In this activities the team remark the bad situation of the giant lizard of Tenerife and the protection and research needed to preserve this species.

Project 152511662 location - Spain, Europe