Reptiles & Amphibians
Our primary research focus in recent years has been the islands reptiles and amphibians, many of which are threatened and little studied. A total of 46 species have been recorded, four of which are endemic to Utila and occur nowhere else in the world. This species list has the potential to grow as large portions of the island have not been previously surveyed, plus both natural and human-mediated pathways for species introduction or invasion are ongoing. We have published various aspects of species natural history, ecology, diet and behaviour.
What makes Utila so exciting is that most species have received little or no previous research. Consequently, not much is known about the behaviour, ecology, habitat preferences, population size or island distribution of Utila's herpetofauna. This is especially the case in regards to the endemic lizard species e.g. Gecko (P. palmeus, , S. poindexteri) and Anoles (Anolis bicaorum, A. utilensis).
Research on the herps of Utila is particularly important, as preliminary observations suggest that many species are threatened by habitat loss (mangroves and hardwood forests), pollution, domestic pets and native/non-native invasive species. These threats appear to be increasing exponentially with increasing development of Utila's tourism industry.
Here at Kanahau, we recognise the need for active research into all of the island's biodiversity, including these data deficient Herpetofauna populations to form a foundation for active and effective species conservation.
Our aim for this projects is to identify key areas of habitat by plotting the distribution of herpetofaunal diversity across the island, identifying niche preference, species interactions, ecology, and previously un-recorded behaviors through visual encounter surveying. The ultimate goal being to focus our research efforts in the areas and species of greatest conservation priorities.
This project offers valuable field research experience and thesis data to students, graduates and passionate wildlife enthusiasts alike! We are especially keen to support and accommodate independent research in regards to the islands herpetofauna; welcoming the generation of new projects and university collaborations!
Species list on Utila
Currently, the recorded herpetofauna diversity is comprised of 27 families and 47 species, though not all species are well-established on the island. In summary, the species list totals 2-3 freshwater turtle, 3 sea turtle, 1 crocodile, 18 lizard, 14 snake and 6 frog species. Please find a species list below. Taxonomic nomenclature updated as of July 2021, with published examples of our work on each species.