Abstract

We studied the demography and nesting ecology of two populations of Iguana iguana that face heavy exploitation and habitat modification in the Momposina Depression, Colombia. Lineal transect data was analyzed using the Fourier model to provide estimates of social group densities, which was found to differ both within and among populations (1.05 - 6.0 groups/ha). Mean group size and overall iguana density estimates varied between populations as well (1.5 -13.7 iguanas/ha). The density estimates were far lower than those reported from more protected areas in Panama and Venezuela. Iguana densities were consistently higher in sites located along rivers (2.5 iguanas/group) than in sites along the margin of marshes, probably due to vegetational differences (1.5 iguanas/group). There was no correlation between density estimates and estimates of relative abundance (number of iguanas seen/hour/person) due to differing detectabilities of iguana groups among sites. The adult sex ratio (1:2.5 males:females) agreed well with other reports in the literature based upon observation of adult social groups, and probably results from the polygynous mating system in this species rather than a real demographic skew. Nesting in this population occurs from the end of January through March and hatching occurs between April and May. We monitored 34 nests, which suffered little vertebrate predation, perhaps due to the lack of a complete vertebrate fauna in this densely inhabited area, but nests suffered from inundation, cattle trampling, and infestation by phorid fly larvae. Clutch sizes in these populations were lower than all other published reports except for the iguana population on the highly xeric island of Curaçao, implying that adult females in our area are unusually small. We argue that this is more likely the result of the exploitation of these populations rather than an adaptive response to environmentally extreme conditions
Keywords: iguana, reptilia, iguanidae, nesting, group size, clutch size, exploitation