Animals are important seed dispersers for many species of plants and can have enormous impact on plant populations and community compositions. Lizards (as a group) are becoming recognized as an important group of frugivores or fruit eaters. Interestingly, of the 280 documented species of frugivorous lizards, 174 live exclusively on islands. Islands typically have high density of lizards, low density of arthropods (the primary diet of most lizards), and very little predation. These island conditions force lizards to expand their trophic niche by exploiting available resources: fruit being an important one.
Anegada is the second largest island in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) (39 km2). This unique environment is home to the critically endangered Anegada iguana (Cyclura pinguis). The population has suffered an estimated 80% decline since the late 1960s due to the effects of invasive species. Equally threatened is the tropical dry forest habitat found on Anegada. The Anegada iguana is dependent on its tropical dry forest habitat, given its herbivorous diet, but it is less understood how this species maintains its habitat through seed dispersal.
Kelly Bradley will summarize the history of the Anegada iguana conservation program, and highlight her research into the relationship between the iguana and the plant species that make up its habitat on Anegada, with particular focus on rare and threatened plant species.