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The feasibility of using introduced lizards as indicators of environmental contamination

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image of Applied Herpetology

Introduced species can provide valuable opportunities for applied research once they have become established with little possibility of eradication. They have been used as indicators of environmental contamination in aquatic ecosystems for many years. However, in terrestrial ecosystems, introduced species have not been utilized as sentinels of environmental quality. We review the feasibility of using species of lizards that have been introduced, are closely related to species that have been introduced, or have the potential of being introduced to the United States, as indicators of heavy metal contamination. Metal concentrations in lizards were compared from the few available studies, including one recently conducted on the introduced brown anole Anolis sagrei in southern Florida. Brown anoles, tropical house geckos Hemidactylus mabouia, sand lizardsLacerta agilis, common viviparous lizards Lacerta vivipara, common wall lizards Podarcis muralis, and starred agamas Laudakia (Agama) stellio stellio were shown to be suitable indicators of heavy metal pollution because differences were found in metal levels in lizards from different locations within a given region, and lizards from sites presumed to be contaminated by heavy metals contained higher metal concentrations than those from locations that were uncontaminated.


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