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The Conservation Status Of Amphibians In The West Indies

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Chapter Summary


Globally, the frequency of amphibian and reptile declines and extirpations has increased dramatically over the last several decades. This is the introductory chapter of the book which provides detailed, up-to-date information for all the major West Indian islands, and presents topical papers of special relevance to their herpetological conservation. The ultimate goal is to provide a comprehensive set of papers that informs, guide, and inspire future herpetological conservation efforts. The islands considered in the chapter have a variety of geological origins. Another general observation concerning West Indian herpetofaunas is that conservation attention has been uneven with respect to taxonomy. The habitat protection and the control or eradication of invasive predators are the most commonly recommended in situ conservation actions. Unfortunately, habitat protection has been illusory, and efforts at invasive predator control or eradication have been infrequent, despite the significant, demonstrated threat posed by invasive species.

Keywords:herpetofaunas; herpetological conservation; West Indian islands


The West Indies is one of the great centers of biodiversity on the planet. The snake fauna alone includes no fewer than 120 species, of which 115 (95.8%) are endemic to the slightly less than 220,000 km2 that comprise the surface area of the region. This species-rich fauna is in great need of conservation. The arrival of Europeans in the West Indies in 1492 did much more than doom the local native American populations to extinction; it set off a cascade of human-induced destructive events that have yet to reach a climax. This chapter summarizes the current status of selected West Indian snake species, the threats they face, and the life history attributes that make some more vulnerable to extinction than others. The factors adversely affecting populations of Antillean snakes are complex, but nearly all are human-mediated and involve the introduction of exotic species.

Keywords:Antillean snakes; snake conservation; West Indies




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