Archive for January, 2017

Iguana training

January 26th, 2017

From 13 to 23 January 2017, EcoProfessionals together with RAVON provided field training for St. Eustatius National Parks (STENAPA) staff, focusing on iguanas. St. Eustatius is one of the few islands that still supports the endangered Lesser Antillean Iguana, however it is at risk of hybridization from the invasive Green Iguana. In an effort to combat this, STENAPA requested training on iguana spotting, catching, handling, beading, PIT-tagging, and data management.

Intensive searches finally proved successful, when on the final day of fieldwork the team captured a hybrid iguana. While this was cause for a small celebration, searches must continue to prevent further hybridization of the native species. The iguana in question (see photos below) was the offspring of the native Lesser Antillean Iguana mixed with the invasive Green Iguana. The genes of the non-native Green Iguana are so strong that the species outcompetes the native species and eventually causes its extirpation. Key features to look for when identifying hybrids include: black bands on the tail, small bumps behind the neck, flattened/elongated head, longer spines, size and shape of scales along the jaw, and lighter colored patterns on the body.

Climbing trees is part of the job

Climbing trees is part of the job

Tim van Wagensveld (RAVON) demonstrates the best way to hold an iguana

Tim van Wagensveld (RAVON) demonstrates the best way to hold an iguana

Inspecting the iguana for mites and abnormalities

Inspecting the iguana for mites and abnormalities

Giving the iguana a unique colored bead combination for easy identification

Giving the iguana a unique colored bead combination for easy identification

Using the pole to catch iguanas is not as easy as it first seems

Using the pole to catch iguanas is not as easy as it first seems

Measuring a hatchling discovered during a night survey

Measuring a hatchling discovered during a night survey

The participants practiced their spotting skills in the field

The participants practiced their spotting skills in the field

Night surveys revealed many hatchlings and juveniles

Night surveys revealed many hatchlings and juveniles

Tim van Wagensveld and Thijs van den Burg with a captured hybrid iguana

Tim van Wagensveld and Thijs van den Burg with a captured hybrid iguana

Hybrid features include: flattened head, larger dewlap, unusual jaw scales, and a striped tail

Hybrid features include: flattened head, larger dewlap, unusual jaw scales, and a striped tail

 

The team with the captured hybrid

The team with the captured hybrid