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Conservation of the herpetofauna of the Dominican Republic

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The herpetofauna of the Dominican Republic consists of 39 frogs (two of which are introduced), 110 squamates (one possibly extinct and three or four introduced), one crocodilian, three turtles (one introduced), plus four species of sea turtles. Reflecting the recent "Global Amphibian Assessment", 32 of 37 (86%) native species of amphibians are included on the IUCN Red List. Reptilian species given formal recognition as being in need of protection include the sea turtles (listed in CITES appendices and the IUCN Red List), the two native species of pond turtles (Trachemys spp.; IUCN, although one as being at "lower risk" of extinction), both species of rock iguanas (Cyclura spp.; CITES and IUCN), two giant galliwasps (Celestus spp., IUCN), three boids (Epicrates spp., CITES), a ground boa (Tropidophis haetianus, CITES), and the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus; CITES and IUCN). However, at least some additional squamate species appear to meet criteria for inclusion on the IUCN Red List. Four factors largely responsible for the status of these species are: (1) small ranges, habitat specialization, and encroachment by human activities (many amphibians); (2) large size and economic value (turtles, iguanas, crocodile); (3) persecution by people who fear them (galliwasps and snakes); and (4) diurnally active, terrestrial, and vulnerable to predation by mongooses and other introduced mammalian predators (some snakes, Mabuya). Although protection for a few species and for national parks in critical habitats is legislated, enforcement is sporadic and threats, mostly associated with exploitation and development, remain. Specific recommendations for the conservation of the herpetofauna are listed.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Avila University, Kansas City, MO 64145, USA; 2: Grupo Jaragua, El Vergel 33, El Vergel, Santo Domingo, República Dominicana


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