Critically Endangered Fijian Crested Iguana (Brachylophus vitiensis) Shows Habitat Preference for Globally Threatened Tropical Dry Forest

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Title Critically Endangered Fijian Crested Iguana (Brachylophus vitiensis) Shows Habitat Preference for Globally Threatened Tropical Dry Forest
Author Morrison, Clare; Keppel, Gunnar; Thomas, Nunia; Rounds, Isaac; Harlow, Peter S.
Journal Name Pacific Science
Year Published 2009
Place of publication United States
Publisher University of Hawaii Press
Abstract Tropical dry forests are a unique and threatened ecosystem in the Pacific and globally. In Fiji, the endangered Fijian crested iguana (Bracbylopbus vitiensis) is endemic to tropical dry forests. Yadua Taba Island contains one of the best remaining stands of tropical dry forest in the Pacific along with the largest (and only secure) population of B. vitiensis in Fiji and has been proposed as a translocation source for iguana conservation. In this study we determined the major vegetation types on Yadua Taba and identified forest habitat preferences of B. vitiensis to (1) characterize the island's habitats for tropical dry forest regeneration monitoring and (2) understand which forest types are preferred by iguanas for future translocation projects. Vegetation data were collected using reconnaissance, entitation, line transects, and aerial photos. Iguana abundance data were collected by nocturnal surveys of permanent transects. Six major vegetation types were identified of which tropical dry forest was the largest (46% of the island), followed by a combination of rocky cliff-shrubland/grassland vegetation (26%). Our conservative estimate of B. vitiensis population size on Yadua Taba is 12,000 iguanas, the majority of which occur in tropical dry forest. Superabundance of the dry forest understory tree Vavaea amicorum, the favorite fruit species of iguanas, may help account for the high density of iguanas observed. These results highlight the ecological link between tropical dry forest and B. vitiensis and emphasize the importance of rehabilitation or conservation of tropical dry forest habitat in potential iguana translocation sites as part of the management plan for B. vitiensis throughout the Fiji Islands.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Alternative URI http://dx.doi.org/10.2984/049.063.0205
Copyright Statement Copyright 2009 University of Hawai'i Press. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Volume 63
Issue Number 2
Page from 223
Page to 242
ISSN 0030-8870
Date Accessioned 2011-01-20
Language en_US
Research Centre International Centre for Ecotourism Research
Faculty Faculty of Science, Environment, Engineering and Technology
Subject Conservation and Biodiversity
URI http://hdl.handle.net/10072/37883
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1a

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