Neon green gecko key to preventing Mauritian plant extinction
April 17th, 2007
Studying plant-animal interactions in Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island famous for its extinct dodo bird, researchers found that a rare plant, Trochetia blackburniana, benefits from its proximity to Pandanus plants because they house high densities of geckos responsible for pollination.
The findings, which unusually identify a lizard as a key pollinator, are significant because they provide “valuable management insights for ongoing conservation efforts to save the highly endangered flora of Mauritius.”
The researchers, led by Dennis M. Hansen of the Institute of Environmental Sciences at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, used a gecko exclusion experiment to determine the importance of the endemic blue-tailed day gecko (Phelsuma cepediana) in pollination of Trochetia blackburniana, a species that is now in decline due to the impact of introduced species and the disappearance of its key pollinator, the olive white-eye (Zosterops chloronothos), a bird, across much of its range.
The authors found that unlike alien invasive wasps and birds that fed on Trochetia blackburniana nectar without collecting pollen, the blue-tailed day gecko was tagged with pollen “either just behind the head or on the gecko’s throat and chest,” making it a crucial pollinator of the plant species.
Hansen and colleagues showed that gecko exclusion had a “highly significant negative effect” on fruiting of Trochetia blackburniana.
See also here.
Improving the efficiency of rat control is vital to protect the critically endangered Mauritius Olive White-eye (Zosterops chloronothos) and sustain its population in the Black River Gorges National Park. In line with BirdLife International’s global conservation strategy to Save Species, BirdLife’s Partner in Mauritius, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation has introduced the use of self-resetting traps to preserve the highly endangered bird endemic to Mauritius: here.
- Australian endangered species: Gulbaru Gecko (theconversation.com)
- Frogs, geckos, chameleons and more (economist.com)
- Gentle Gecko (countinggreenstars.wordpress.com)
- Dealing with climate change in Mauritius (thewonderlandians.wordpress.com)
- Insects and geckos found in palm kernel imports (radionz.co.nz)