The green iguana
donated by Herpetofauna
The green iguana (Iguana iguana) is a species found from Mexico to midway through Brazil, plus a number of islands in the Caribbean. Between populations within this large distribution area, both physical and genetic differences have been found. Previous research shows that the population of green iguanas on Curaçao is genetically very different from all populations analyzed so far. In addition, the iguanas on Curaçao differ in a number of characteristics that make them better adapted to the local, dry climate.
This project investigates how different the population on Curaçao is from other populations and whether it is a unique subspecies or even species. In addition, it is being investigated whether non-indigenous iguanas are present on Curaçao. This is relevant because iguanas from other populations do not have the same adaptations and when these animals interbreed with the native animals of Curaçao, it can seriously disturb and threaten the original population. Precisely this process is already underway in other populations (for example on St. Lucia). In addition, there are a lot of non-native iguanas scattered throughout the Caribbean that seriously disturb the local wildlife.
It is being investigated whether this process is ongoing on Curaçao and, if so, how serious the situation is. Research is also being carried out into whether non-indigenous animals can be distinguished from native animals in appearance and plans are being drawn up together with local organizations to protect the indigenous population.