IIF Announces Land Purchase in the Dominican Republic

2012 Purchase will protect critical nesting habitat for Ricord’s Iguanas
Cyclura ricordii
Jose Luis and Ernst Rupp (Grupo Jaragua) evaluate the new property that IIF has agreed to purchase

Cyclura ricordii
Lauren Anderson (left) and Rosanna Carreras (right) assist Stesha Pasachnik (buried) in retrieving the hatched eggs.

A team from San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG) and Grupo Jaragua, led by SDZG postdoc Stesha Pasachnik, is investigating the nesting ecology of La Tierra. Nest characteristics, such as depth and temperature, of both species are being studied as part of this project. Excavating Ricord’s Iguana nests is hard and dirty work. This process can go on for five hours sometimes without locating the nest chamber.

In addition, hatchlings of both species are collected as they emerge when they are marked and sampled for genetics prior to release. A subset is being radio-tracked to learn where juveniles go to live and feed, and what the level of mortality from predation is. Juvenile iguanas face a number of predators in their first years of life including mongoose, snakes (racers and boas), cats, and birds. Unfortunately adult iguanas are not completely safe either, and this year 16 females were found dead, having been killed by dogs while attempting to nest. We are looking for ways to remedy this problem for the 2013 nesting season.