Population genetics of the Honduran spiny-tailed iguana Ctenosaura melanosterna: implications for conservation and management
Endangered Species Research
In conservation, difficult decisions concerning prioritization of different geographic areas must be made. Large-scale prioritization methods such as defining biodiversity hotspots and crisis ecoregions have paved the way; however, these efforts then need to be localized. Various approaches have been taken, such as defining evolutionarily significant units (ESUs), management units, and core habitat areas within the range of a taxonomic species. These units can then be ranked as candidates for
... as candidates for conservation, with the goal of preserving a given species by protecting only a subset of populations. Here we used a combination of amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLPs) and DNA sequence data to elucidate the relationships within and among populations of the spinytailed iguana Ctenosaura melanosterna throughout its range in Honduras. Our findings indicate that there are 2 ESUs corresponding to geographically and ecologically distinct island and mainland habitats. Management strategies consisting of translocation or captive breeding and release should not consider the island and mainland populations exchangeable. In addition, the narrow geographic range of each group suggests that no region or subpopulation is likely expendable. This study demonstrates a situation, most likely increasingly common in conservation, in which it seems that only the high priority areas remain.