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Conservation status of reptiles and amphibians in the U.S. Virgin Islands

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image of Applied Herpetology

The United States Virgin Islands (USVI) are situated along the Puerto Rico Bank near the eastern terminus of the Greater Antilles in the northern Caribbean, and comprise four major inhabited islands and more than 50 satellite cays. The small sizes of the islands, their relative isolation, and unpredictable weather events such as hurricanes make natural populations vulnerable to human-induced impacts of habitat loss and the introduction of invasive exotic species. There are currently 30 extant species of reptiles and amphibians in the USVI, 24 of which are native. Four species have been extirpated from all or part of their former distribution, four species are endangered, one is threatened, and eight are considered data deficient. Five reptiles and amphibians are fairly recent (within the last 150 years) introductions. Species of particular conservation concern are the St. Croix ground lizard (Ameiva polops), Virgin Islands tree boa (Epicrates monensis granti), and sea turtles, and recovery efforts are underway for these species. Habitat protection and reduction of exotic predators are important conservation actions required to protect herpetofauna, combined with ecological studies and population monitoring.


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