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Tuesday, October 18 • 1:00pm - 1:20pm
Wildlife. Teaming for Success: The Monito Island Gecko Recovery Initiative

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AUTHORS: Miguel A. García, Department of Natural Resources and Environment and Center for Applied Tropical Ecology and Conservation; Jan Zegarra, Ecological Services Caribbean Field Office US Fish and Wildlife Service; Iván Llerandi-Román, Ecological Services Caribbean Field Office US Fish and Wildlife Service; Ricardo Lopez, Department of Natural Resources and Environment ; Cielo E. Figuerola, University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras Campus and Island Conservation; Omar Monsegur-Rivera Ecological Services Caribbean Field Office US Fish and Wildlife Service; José Cruz-Burgos, Ecological Services Caribbean Field Office US Fish and Wildlife Service; Nicole Angeli, Island Conservation

ABSTRACT: Islands suffer extremely high extinction rates (80%) and high indices of biodiversity and endemism. Therefore, the combination of these ecological factors makes implementing conservation initiatives and allocating funding toward these ecosystems an important priority. The endangered Monito Island gecko is an endemic species restricted only to 15 ha of habitat. Black rats and bombing practices were identified as the most plausible causes for its decline in the recovery plan. But, while bombing stopped even before the discovery of the species, high numbers of black rats were present in Monito Island. Consequently, we started in 1992 a two stages initiative, aimed to the recovery of this species. The first part consisted in the eradication of the black rat and the second part in the evaluation of the threat removal and assessing the response in the gecko population.

The eradication program was completed in 1999 and Monito Island was declared rat free in May 2014. Gecko counts range from initial rapid assessment of 13-23 sightings to a minimum of 92 individuals using a more robust methodology and further analysis is being done to calculate population estimates. But most importantly, geckos were found in 36 of the 40 plots randomly established throughout all searchable habitat of the island. This project was a joint venture between the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and the Caribbean Field Office US Fish and Wildlife Services and represents the first event in which an interagency team achieves the recovery of an endangered species in Puerto Rico.

Tuesday October 18, 2016 1:00pm - 1:20pm
Riverview B

Attendees (4)