Cryptic exotic geckos on Curacao Island, 1 species is actually 3

A new paper by the iEco Lab and led by Dr. Behm in collaboration with Gerard van Buurt (a respected naturalist on Curacao) reports on finding three new species of exotic geckos on Curacao Island. Curacao naturally has three native species of geckos. In the 1980s, other researchers documented the introduction of the exotic gecko Hemidactylus mabouia–which is native to Africa–bringing the total number of gecko species on Curacao to four. iEco Lab recently surveyed for geckos across the island. We expected to find these four species and we did, but we also found three more exotic species. Two of these newly found exotics, Lepidodactylus lugubris and Hemidactylus frenatus, look so similar to Hemidactylus mabouia that they seem to have been misidentified and unnoticed for years. Finally, the third new exotic we found, Gekko gecko, was kept as a pet and escaped. It is a large and predatory gecko from Asia that has been known to eat birds and other large prey like native geckos. People have increased the number of gecko species on Curacao from three to seven! However, this high number may not be stable and more work by the iEco Lab is asking how the spread of the exotic geckos across the island could impact the native gecko species. Stay tuned for more!

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