Gainesville, FL, United States
Gainesville, FL, United States

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Lewis D.S.,University of the West Indies | Lewis D.S.,Jamaican Iguana Recovery Group | Lewis D.S.,The ire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity | van Veen R.,University of the West Indies | And 3 more authors.
Biological Invasions | Year: 2010

This study documents impacts of the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) on a threatened endemic fauna occurring in a biodiversity hotspot within a hotspot, the Hellshire Hills, Jamaica. We analyzed the stomach contents of 217 mongooses and supplemented this information with behavioural observations. The mongoose's diet consists primarily of invertebrates and lizards, but bird feathers, mammal hair, and a small number of seeds were also recorded. Invertebrates and lizards accounted for 93% of identified prey items. Of special concern were the remains of threatened species such as the recently re-discovered blue-tailed galliwasp (Celestus duquesneyi), indicating that the mongoose may represent a considerable threat to this poorly known taxon. Dietary analyses did not reveal remains of the Critically Endangered Jamaican iguana (Cyclura collei), yet field observations confirmed that the mongoose is a potent predator of hatchling iguanas. Ignoring issues of sample size, this suggests that the analysis of stomach contents alone may mask important demographic impacts attributable to the mongoose (or other predator species). In other words, rare and endangered species may not be detected in diet samples, but the impact of predation may be of demographic significance for effected prey taxa. This study supports previous arguments concerning the negative impact of the mongoose on endemic insular species, and underscores the utility of employing field observations of mongoose foraging behaviour to provide important insights into the conservation implications of predation by non-native predators. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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