Landscape dominance of introduced herpetofauna on an oceanic island

Global Ecology and Conservation
By: , and 



Habitat loss and fragmentation can negatively impact native wildlife and facilitate establishment of introduced species. On islands, introduced species are a primary cause of extinction and can alter community membership through predation or competition for resources. Consequently, elucidating the distribution of introduced and native species can improve understanding of the potential synergistic effects of land use and introduced species on native island species. The island of Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands has a long history of herpetofaunal introductions. However, the distribution of native and introduced herpetofauna on Saipan is poorly understood, and the effects of land use and introduced species on the native herpetofauna are largely unknown. In 2018, we randomly selected sites on Saipan from established island-wide transects and used multiple detection methods, repeated surveys, and single-season occupancy models to account for imperfect detection and construct species distribution models. We investigated the role of biotic and abiotic factors in explaining occupancy and detection of Saipan’s native and introduced herpetofauna. We recorded 2568 observations representing 1 amphibian and 11 reptile species. Introduced species were encountered 3.8 times more frequently and were 33% more broadly distributed than native species. Occupancy for the native forest dwelling species Emoia caeruleocauda and Perochirus ateles was positively associated with elevation and enhanced vegetation index, suggesting that human habitat modification at lower elevations may be reducing their suitable habitat.We found evidence of a range contraction for the imperiled P. ateles and suggest potential avenues for implementing targeted conservation of native herpetofauna.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Landscape dominance of introduced herpetofauna on an oceanic island
Series title Global Ecology and Conservation
DOI 10.1016/j.gecco.2020.e00984
Volume 22
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description e00984, 17 p.
Other Geospatial Northern Mariana Island
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