• Assessment and validation of miniaturized technology for the remote tracking of critically endangered Galápagos pink land iguana (Conolophus marthae)

      Loreti, Pierpaolo; Bracciale, Lorenzo; Colosimo, Giuliano; Vera, Carlos; Gerber, Glenn P.; De Luca, Massimiliano; Gentile, Gabriele (2020)
      Background: Gathering ecological data for species of conservation concern inhabiting remote regions can be daunting and, sometimes, logistically infeasible. We built a custom-made GPS tracking device that allows to remotely and accurately collect animal position, environmental, and ecological data, including animal temperature and UVB radiation. We designed the device to track the critically endangered Galápagos pink land iguana, Conolophus marthae. Here we illustrate some technical solutions adopted to respond to challenges associated with such task and present some preliminary results from controlled trial experiments and feld implementation. Results: Our tests show that estimates of temperature and UVB radiation are affected by the design of our device, in particular by its casing. The introduced bias, though, is systematic and can be corrected using linear and quadratic regressions on collected values. Our data show that GPS accuracy loss, although introduced by vegetation and orientation of the devices when attached to the animals, is acceptable, leading to an average error gap of less than 15 m in more than 50% of the cases. Conclusions: We address some technical challenges related to the design, construction, and operation of a custom made GPS tracking device to collect data on animals in the wild. Systematic bias introduced by the technological implementation of the device exists. Understanding the nature of the bias is crucial to provide correction models. Although designed to track land iguanas, our device could be used in other circumstances and is particularly useful to track organisms inhabiting locations that are diffcult to reach or for which classic telemetry approaches are unattainable.
    • Chemical signatures of femoral pore secretions in two syntopic but reproductively isolated species of Galápagos land iguanas (Conolophus marthae and C. subcristatus)

      Colosimo, Giuliano; Di Marco, Gabriele; D’Agostino, Alessia; Gismondi, Angelo; Vera, Carlos A.; Gerber, Glenn P.; Scardi, Michele; Canini, Antonella; Gentile, Gabriele (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020)
      The only known population of Conolophus marthae (Reptilia, Iguanidae) and a population of C. subcristatus are syntopic on Wolf Volcano (Isabela Island, Galápagos). No gene flow occurs suggesting that effective reproductive isolating mechanisms exist between these two species. Chemical signature of femoral pore secretions is important for intra- and inter-specific chemical communication in squamates. As a first step towards testing the hypothesis that chemical signals could mediate reproductive isolation between C. marthae and C. subcristatus, we compared the chemical profiles of femoral gland exudate from adults caught on Wolf Volcano. We compared data from three different years and focused on two years in particular when femoral gland exudate was collected from adults during the reproductive season. Samples were processed using Gas Chromatography coupled with Mass Spectrometry (GC–MS). We identified over 100 different chemical compounds. Non-Metric Multidimensional Scaling (nMDS) was used to graphically represent the similarity among individuals based on their chemical profiles. Results from non-parametric statistical tests indicate that the separation between the two species is significant, suggesting that the chemical profile signatures of the two species may help prevent hybridization between C. marthae and C. subcristatus. Further investigation is needed to better resolve environmental influence and temporal reproductive patterns in determining the variation of biochemical profiles in both species.