Introduced amphibians and reptiles in the Greate Caribbean: Patterns and conservation implications

Robert Powell, Robert W. Henderson, Michael C. Farmer, Michel Breuil, Arthur C. Echternacht, Gerard van Buurt, Christina M. Romagosa, Gad Perry

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Non-native species are a growing worldwide conservation problem, often second only to habitat destruction and alteration as a cause of extirpations and extinctions. Introduced taxa affect native faunas through competition, predation, hybridization, transmission of diseases, and even by confounding conservation efforts focused on superficially similar endemic species. The number ofknown introductions of amphibian and reptilian species continues to grow. Herein, we document the arrival and establishment of alien amphibians and reptiles in the greater Caribbean region and the eans by which they arrived. These include 130 species (25 amphibians and 105 reptiles) responsible for 364 individual introductions, of which 70.3% resulted in populations established for at least a short period. The impact of those 256 established populations ranges from minimal (localized effects largely restricted to dramatically altered habitats) to severe (displacement of native species from natural and modified habitats). Although intentional introductions for putative pest control (mostly historical) and food (historical and ongoing) are factors in some instances, the primary pathways for introductions today are inadvertent. Nearly all are associated with either the ever-growing pet trade or stowaways in cargo and ornamental plants. To document the extent of the live animal trade for pets and food, we review the surprisingly large numbers of documented individuals exported from the Caribbean into the United States (US) and from the US to the Caribbean. The extent of such trade and the rates of non-native arrivals continue to increase, and both are related to indices of regional economic activity. Because prevention is by far better - and more economical - than eradication of an established alien, we recommend increased scrutiny of transported goods and animals to and from the islands. An integrated policy response is clearly necessary to address what is a regional issue. Although the region is highly fragmented both geographically and politically, we urge an increased regional cooperation for fighting invasive species in general and invasive herpetofauna in particular. Precedents for such cooperation include the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) and the Caribbean Cooperation in Health initiative.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVolume 1
Subtitle of host publicationConservation Biology and the Wider Caribbean
Number of pages81
ISBN (Print)9789004183957
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Amphibians
  • Caribbean
  • Economic activity
  • Eradication
  • Introduced species
  • Live animal trade
  • Prevention
  • Regional cooperation
  • Reptiles
  • Urban
  • Vectors


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