New work by iEcoLab and colleges from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on Carribean reptiles has found that as islands develop, more exotic species are able to establish. Wendy Jesse surveyed reptile communities across two Caribbean islands (St. Martin and St. Eustatius) and found that exotic and native species showed opposing responses to human development (i.e., building houses and resorts). Native species were most abundant in forests, while exotic were least abundant in forest and most abundant in highly disturbed areas.
This work is timely as St. Martin is still recovering from its worst hurricane in at least a century. As the island rebuilds, it is important to consider how rebuilding and the transport of building materials can impact native species and facilitate the establishment and spread of exotic species.