Applied Scientific Research

Science-based conservation and recovery programs depend on sound research.

Rigorous scientific data are fundamental to successful conservation programs. To save and protect a species, it is vital to understand their biology in order to develop appropriate recovery strategies that account for their specific needs and counteract the threats they face. The IIF has been one of the leading sources of funding for iguana research, focusing on genetics, natural history, ecology, reproduction, population estimation, habitat suitability, and invasive species management.

We are dedicated to supporting the field researchers who spend countless hours in some of the most extreme condition to gather these vital data. Much of the fundamental information gathered begins with simple mark recapture studies that then span years, allowing researchers to estimate population size, track population trends, and look for indicators of threats, such that mitigation strategies can quickly be enacted. Long-term mark recapture studies have been supported throughout the Caribbean and Central America, such as in Jamaica, the Turks and Caicos, Guatemala, and the Bay Islands of Honduras. Coupled with surveying across the range of the species, these methods elucidate which habitats are most suitable, and thus important for protection.

Observational and tracking studies allow researchers to document important dietary needs and intra and interspecific interactions, such as reproductive events and predation attempts, which has been supported on Anegada and in Mexico. This information can inform habitat restoration activities as well as invasive species control and eradication. Genetic studies not only allow for a greater understanding of species boundaries and thus what populations are most in need of protection, but also allow for monitoring of harmful hybridization events and the hidden impacts of population reduction that could eliminate entire populations, as well as aid in repatriating smuggled iguanas.

Ctenosaura oedirhina

Using an Ultrasound to determine egg folicilles in the Roatan Spiny-tailed Iguana – Ctenosaura oedirhina

Check out this short video about field work in Jamaica with the Jamaican Rock Iguana