Spatial ecology of the critically endangered Fijian crested iguana, Brachylophus vitiensis, in an extremely dense population: implications for conservation

Date

2013-09-03

Authors

Morrison, Suzanne F.
Biciloa, Pita
Harlow, Peter S.
Keogh, J. Scott

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Publisher

Public Library of Science

Abstract

The Critically Endangered Fijian crested iguana, Brachylophus vitiensis, occurs at extreme density at only one location, with estimates of >10,000 iguanas living on the 70 hectare island of Yadua Taba in Fiji. We conducted a mark and recapture study over two wet seasons, investigating the spatial ecology and intraspecific interactions of the strictly arboreal Fijian crested iguana. This species exhibits moderate male-biased sexual size dimorphism, which has been linked in other lizard species to territoriality, aggression and larger male home ranges. We found that male Fijian crested iguanas exhibit high injury levels, indicative of frequent aggressive interactions. We did not find support for larger home range size in adult males relative to adult females, however male and female residents were larger than roaming individuals. Males with established home ranges also had larger femoral pores relative to body size than roaming males. Home range areas were small in comparison to those of other iguana species, and we speculate that the extreme population density impacts considerably on the spatial ecology of this population. There was extensive home range overlap within and between sexes. Intersexual overlap was greater than intrasexual overlap for both sexes, and continuing male-female pairings were observed among residents. Our results suggest that the extreme population density necessitates extensive home range overlap even though the underlying predictors of territoriality, such as male biased sexual size dimorphism and high aggression levels, remain. Our findings should be factored in to conservation management efforts for this species, particularly in captive breeding and translocation programs.

Description

Keywords

animals, behavior, animal, body size, female, fiji, male, population density, conservation of natural resources, ecology, endangered species, iguanas

Citation

Source

PLoS ONE

Type

Journal article

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DOI

10.1371/journal.pone.0073127

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