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Conservation of amphibians and reptiles in the British Virgin Islands: Status and patterns

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The British Virgin Islands (BVI) forms part of the Puerto Rican Bank and its fauna is closely related to that of the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Humans have inhabited the region for several thousand years and their impacts have continuously included habitat modification, hunting, and introduction of invasive species. Those are the three main causes of concern for the present-day herpetofauna of the BVI, which contains 34 amphibian and reptile species. Of these, five (15%) are common, three (9%) are at risk, eight (23%) are endangered, ten (29%) are data deficient, two (6%) are extinct, and six (18%) are introduced or cryptogenic. Several endemic species are only found on tiny islets where stochastic events can easily lead to their extinction. The native iguana, Cyclura pinguis, and the sea turtles found in the region are in an especially sensitive condition. Habitat destruction and fragmentation are ongoing and likely to accelerate. Invasive species are still arriving, establishing, and spreading. Thus, although the short-term conservation status of the BVI herpetofauna appears unlikely to change, we are more concerned about the mid-term outlook. We recommend some specific remedies intended to offset these pressures and provide long-term protection to the biota of the BVI.


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