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Status and conservation of the reptiles and amphibians of the Bermuda islands

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Bermuda's herpetofauna includes three species of amphibians, one fossil tortoise, two species of freshwater turtles, five species of marine turtles, and four species of lizards. The amphibians Eleutherodactylus johnstonei, E. gossei and Bufo marinus were all introduced in the late 1880s. Amphibian population declines, including the possible extirpation of E. gossei, prompted the initiation in 1995 of an on-going investigation. Research into the high deformity rates in B. marinus has indicated that survival and development of larvae are affected by contaminants in a number of ponds and by the transgenerational transfer of accumulated contaminants. Of the two emydid turtles in Bermuda, Malaclemys terrapin may be native and its population characteristics are being studied; Trachemys scripta elegans is considered invasive and efforts are underway to remove its populations from the wild. The sizeable resident Chelonia mydas population has been the focus of a mark-recapture study since 1968. Results indicate that Bermuda is currently an important developmental habitat for green turtles originating from at least four different nesting beaches in the Caribbean. Immature Eretmochelys imbricat a also reside on the Bermuda Platform and genetics studies suggest that multiple Caribbean genotypes are represented in Bermuda's hawksbill population. Caretta caretta do not appear to be regular inhabitants, but two known loggerhead nesting events have recently occurred (in 1990 and 2005) and post-hatchling loggerheads regularly strand after winter storms. Dermochelys coriacea are only occasionally seen and the last record for a live Lepidochelys kempi in Bermuda occurred in 1949. Three of the lizard species are introduced Anolis; A. grahami grahami, A. leachii, and A. extremus. Their populations appear stable and they are presently not being studied. The fourth lizard, the Bermuda skink Eumeces longirostris, is Bermuda's only endemic terrestrial vertebrate. It is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List and is protected under the Protected Species Act (2003); much research has been undertaken recently to aid the development of effective conservation management plans for this species.


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