Meeting Abstract

102-3  Saturday, Jan. 6 14:00 - 14:15  The effects of tourism and food provisioning on the physiology of Exuma Rock Iguanas (Cyclura cychlura) WEBB, AC*; KNAPP, C; IVERSON, J; DENARDO, D; FRENCH, S; Utah State University; John G. Shedd Aquarium; Earlham College; Arizona State University; Utah State University

Tourism in the Bahamas has led to near daily interactions with humans and provisioning of atypical food items for some populations of Cyclura iguanas. Long term studies of these populations have found them to exhibit unnaturally high densities on feeding beaches, higher endoparasitic infections, altered dietary nutrition, and to have decreased survival probability compared to populations not being visited by tourist groups. In this study, we expand on previous work to assess the impacts of dietary changes and anthropogenic activity on the physiology of iguana populations experiencing different degrees of tourism activity. We sampled both male and female iguanas in post-breeding condition from 6 sites. The sites were categorized as experiencing high, moderate, or low tourist activity based on the amount of tourist which visit each site. Iguanas from high tourism populations have increased triglycerides and glucose, elevated activation of the immune system, increased reactive oxygen metabolites, and decreased circulating corticosterone compared to populations experiencing low or moderate tourism and food supplementation. Tourism in the Caribbean is likely to continue and understanding physiological mechanisms mediating survival could allow us to better influence conservation policy and understand the changes driven by anthropogenic forces.