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Cyclura cychlura ssp. figginsi

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
ANIMALIA CHORDATA REPTILIA SQUAMATA IGUANIDAE

Scientific Name: Cyclura cychlura ssp. figginsi
Species Authority: Barbour, 1923
Parent Species:
Common Name(s):
English Exuma Rock Iguana, Exuma Island Rock Iguana, Exuma Island Iguana
Synonym(s):
Cyclura figginsi Barbour, 1923
Taxonomic Notes: Cyclura figginsi Barbour, 1923; later described as Cyclura cychlura figginsi by Schwartz and Carey, 1977.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(iii,v)+2ab(iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2004
Date Assessed: 2004-04-30
Assessor(s): Knapp, C.R. & Buckner, S.D.
Reviewer(s): Hudson, R. & Alberts, A. (Iguana Red List Authority)
Justification:
Cyclura Cychlura figginsi has an extent of occurrence < 100 km² and an area of occupancy < 10 km². It is known from eight subpopulations and has a fragmented distribution.

The Exuma Island iguana inhabits an area that is becoming increasingly popular with tourists, both as a sailing destination and a region to buy islands. Increased human traffic brings potential and distinct deleterious consequences to the local flora and fauna. In 2004, a large-scale fire was reported on an iguana-inhabited island that has recently become a designated tourist destination. The fire was purportedly the result of a tourist cigarette. Also, in recent years there has been an increase in feral animals and wildlife smuggling throughout the islands. Continued population monitoring must be a priority along with recognizing that the fragmented population faces a precarious future.

Current population size is estimated at < 1,300. The population has declined by at least 20% over the last 50 years (four generations). Given current threats to this iguana, the popualtion is expected to decline by at least 20% over the next 25 years (two generations).
History:
1996 Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This subspecies is known from small cays scattered over 80 km throughout the central and southern Exuma island chain of the Bahamas. Anecdotal information suggests additional inhabited cays, but verification is necessary. The determination of range through historic records is problematic due to certain cays sharing multiple names. Bitter Guana and Gaulin Cays constitute the northern extent of the population. Four cays, White Bay, Noddy, North Adderly, and Leaf Cays, all located northeast of Norman’s Pond Cay, compose the nucleus of the range. Guana Cay, southwest of Great Exuma, forms the southern boundary of the population.
Countries:
Native:
Bahamas
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Eight subpopulations are known, totaling < 1,300 individuals: Bitter Guana Cay (20–50); Gaulin Cay (275–325); White Bay Cay (200–250); Noddy Cay (200–250); North Adderly Cay (235–275); Leaf (<10); Guana Cay (80–90); Pasture Cay (16). The population size is declining.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The Exuma Island iguana utilizes a variety of habitats including sandy beaches, xeric limestone devoid of vegetation, and areas of vegetation with or without sand or rock substrates. Limestone crevices and sand burrows are used as retreats at night and in adverse weather conditions.

Except for the Guana Cay population, few formal natural history studies have been conducted. The Guana Cay population was studied in the 1970s (Wilcox et al. 1973, Carey 1976, Windrow 1977, Coenen 1995) and is currently being reinvestigated along with the other remaining subpopulations (Knapp 1995 and 1996).

Adult iguanas are herbivorous and are arboreal as well as terrestrial feeders. Preferred food items are seasonally dependent and primarily consist of flowers, fruits, young buds and leaves of Rachicallis americana, Reynosia septentionalis, Strumpfia maritima, Jacquinia keyensis, Erithalis fruticosa, Coccoloba uvifera, Coccothrinax argentata, Eugenia axillaris, Suriana maritima, and the rotting fruit of Casasia clusiifolia (Windrow 1977, C. Knapp, unpubl. data). Coenen (1955) reports the iguanas as coprophagous. They actively forage for the faeces of the zenaida dove, Zenaida leucocephala, and the white-crowned pigeon, Columba leucocephala.

Nesting has been observed on Guana Cay, with females digging the nest burrow. The only excavations of nest chambers revealed three eggs each in two nests (Coenen 1995).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Conversations with locals suggest that removal of animals from their home cays for tourist attractions elsewhere could constitute a significant threat. Although such activities probably occur on a small scale, they may reflect the larger problem of smuggling of iguanas from the Bahamas for illegal wildlife trade. Some cays are visited regularly by locals and yachtsmen, and dog tracks have been observed on Bitter Guana Cay. In addition to possible hunting pressure, predation by dogs may be contributing to the apparent decline of that population. The presence of rats on Gualin Cay has been reported. The effect of rats on this population is unknown, but past research indicates the detrimental consequences of rats on island reptiles (Cree et al. 1995). Certain cays possess diminutive nesting sites and the possibility of a season’s recruitment being decimated by severe weather conditions is genuine.

The isolation of iguana-inhabited cays creates a problem for consistent population monitoring. Discrete environmental events including hurricanes could endanger certain populations. For example, Hurricane Lily engulfed Great Exuma and her satellite cays on 18 October 1996. The effects of Lily on the Guana Cay iguana population were not observed until May, 1997 (S. Buckner, pers. comm.).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Cyclura cychlura is included in CITES Appendix I. All Bahamian rock iguanas are protected under the Wild Animals Protection Act of 1968. Field surveys are continuing to assess current populations and to better define the geographic distribution of the subspecies. The Leaf Cay population was newly discovered in 1997. Blood samples are being collected from each study population to establish genetic profiles for different cays. Potential threats unique to each cay are being documented in order to provide the Bahamian government with information that will aid in setting conservation policies. Also the vegetation and habitat condition on cays not currently supporting iguanas is being investigated for possible translocation programs.

The Bahamas National Trust has erected signs on Gualin Cay notifying the public of the protected status of the iguanas. The Bahamian government currently does not recognize any captive breeding programs, although unsanctioned breeding of these iguanas is apparently taking place in the United States.

Citation: Knapp, C.R. & Buckner, S.D. 2004. Cyclura cychlura ssp. figginsi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 December 2014.
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