The extirpation of Guam's forest avifauna has been attributed to the accidental introduction and subsequent irruption of the brown tree snake, Boiga irregularis. However, recent dietary studies of this nocturnal arboreal snake indicate that it now preys primarily on lizards, not birds. We evaluated the effect the snake has had on Guam's lizards by contrasting lizard communities on Guam with those on adjacent snake-free islands and by comparing the extant lizard communities on Guam with those that were present before the snake arrived. Both comparisons revealed radical reductions in abundance of Guam's native nocturnal lizards and the extirpation of several species. The effect of the snake on diurnal lizards (skinks) is more equivocal. Skinks are still common on Guam, but several species no longer exist on the island. Identification of causes of these extirpations is complicated by the snake's elimination of an important avian skink predator, the concurrent irruption of a shrew, and the effects of predation and competition between the native skinks and an introduced skink.
Additional publication details
The impact of the introduction of the colubrid snake, Boiga irregularis, on Guam's lizards