First evidence for crossbreeding between invasive Iguana iguana and the native rock iguana (Genus Cyclura) on Little Cayman Island
Green iguanas (Iguana iguana) are invasive throughout the West Indies and co-occur on several islands with native rock iguanas (Genus Cyclura). In August 2016, three hybrid hatchlings were captured on Little Cayman Island, providing the first evidence for a successful crossbreeding event between I. iguana and any Cyclura rock iguana species in the wild. Hybrid status was confirmed with morphological and genetic character analysis. This discovery prompts new concerns for biosecurity in the Caribbean.
KeywordsIguana Cyclura Hybrid Crossbreeding Caribbean
The initial discovery of the Sister Islands Rock Iguana/green iguana hybrids is credited to Michael Vallee and Edward Houlcroft of Little Cayman’s “Green Iguana B’Gonna” program. Subsequent captures and genetic sampling was made possible by ongoing research activities supported by Mississippi State University in collaboration with the Cayman Islands Department of Environment and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, with financial contributions from the International Iguana Foundation, Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, and the Rufford Foundation. Preliminary mophological assessments were overseen by the Cayman Islands Department of Environment based on photographs taken by Edward Houlcroft. Molecular analyses were carried out at Mississippi State University. The Little Cayman District of the National Trust for the Cayman Islands funded genetic analyses for this study.
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