We summarize information on current distribution of the invasive lizard Chamaeleo jacksonii and predict its potential distribution in the Hawaiian Islands. Potential distribution maps are based on climate models developed from known localities in its native range and its Hawaiian range. We also present results of analysis of stomach contents of a sample of 34 chameleons collected from native, predominantly dryland, forest on Maui. These data are the first summarizing prey range of this non-native species in an invaded native-forest setting. Potential distribution models predict that the species can occur throughout most of Hawaii from sea level to >2,100 m elevation. Important features of this data set are that approximately one-third of the diet of these lizards is native insects, and the lizards are consuming large numbers of arthropods each day. Prey sizes span virtually the entire gamut of native Hawaiian arthropod diversity, thereby placing a large number of native species at risk of predation. Our dietary results contrast with expectations for most iguanian lizards and support suggestions that chameleons comprise a third distinct foraging-mode category among saurians. The combination of expanding distribution, large potential range size, broad diet, high predation rates, and high densities of these chameleons imply that they may well become a serious threat to some of the Hawaiian fauna.
Additional publication details
Diet and conservation implications of an invasive chameleon, Chamaeleo jacksonii (Squamata: Chamaeleonidae) in Hawaii