It could be trouble ahead for the critically endangered Bermuda skink, a lizard that may soon have to share its turf with the non-native, invasive Cuban brown anole.
The Cuban lizard was first observed on the island by Florida International University PhD student James Stroud, during a two-year survey of Bermuda's lizard populations.
"The Cuban brown anole most likely reached Bermuda by human transport," Stroud told FIU News. "These lizards hitch rides between ports as unintended stowaways amongst cargo, usually in nursery plants and building materials."
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For its part, the Bermuda skink is the only lizard native to the island and is listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN's) "Red List" of threatened species. It has lost homes to habitat destruction and has to dodge predators such as cats.
The present problem for the skink is that Cuban anoles have shown themselves to be highly adaptive, settling in wherever they find themselves - comfortable making do in natural or manmade habitats and able to eat a variety of prey. They spread quickly and tend to crowd out resources, such as habitat and food, normally reserved for native species.
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A bit of good news for the skink is that the two lizards' ranges have not yet collided.
The Cuban anoles Stroud observed were found in central Bermuda, at all stages of life. They originated in Cuba and the Bahamas, and today they're among the most widespread of lizards. They can be found in U.S. Gulf Coast states from Florida to Texas and they also call home states such as Hawaii and California. They can also be found in other Caribbean islands as well as parts of Asia.