The Green Iguana on Curaçao
The Green Iguana (Iguana iguana) is a widespread species, occurring from Mexico to central Brazil and on several Caribbean islands. Researchers found that between all the populations both physical and genetic differences exist. One of our team members (and collaborators) found that the population on Curaçao is very different from all other, so far, sampled populations. In addition, the iguanas on Curaçao differ in several characteristics that allow them to adapt to the local dry climate.
During this project we will study the Curaçao population and assess whether this population is in fact a unique subspecies or species.
Additionally we will study if non-native iguanas are present on the island of Curaçao. This is extremely important since non-native iguanas won’t have the unique adaptations to the local climate and when these would crossbreed with the local population it will disrupt and threaten its future survival. This process is already occurring in other populations (St. Lucia) and currently numerous non-native iguana populations already exist throughout the Caribbean.
If non-native iguanas are present on Curaçao, we will identify whether these interbreed with the native iguanas and on what scale this process occurs. Also, we will investigate whether non-native iguanas can be distinguished from native iguanas in the field and together with local organizations identify actions to protect the native Green Iguana population on Curaçao.