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BeitragVerfasst: 03.01.2014, 00:05 
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The ESF studbook for Lygodactylus williamsi is looking for participants!

In 2009 a first call for action was made for the neon blue gecko (VAN LEEUWEN, 2009). In September that year I visited the Kimboza Forest Catchment Reserve, the natural habitat of this species (VAN LEEUWEN, 2011). Following that trip, an attempt was made to setup a studbook directed by the European Studbook Foundation (ESF). After a good take off, mainly due to little time, it became inactive. Recently I got a request from the ESF to give it another try. Together with Jelle Dewyse I started this a few months ago (October 2013). All has been set in motion, and currently we’re ready to start registering animals in the studbook.

When you’re actively keeping and breeding Lygodactylus williamsi, and want to help conserving this species, please cooperate and register your animals!

New information
Knowledge about the distribution, ecology and biological traits of the species in situ is strongly limited (Flecks et al., 2012; van Leeuwen, 2011). Besides creating an assurance stock this studbook can provide key information regarding behavior, feeding habits, reproduction etc. This might prove vital to the protection of this species and it’s habitat in the wild.

Flecks and coauthors collected in 2009 field data on abundance and distribution of the species. The population size of L. williamsi based on observed numbers of specimens per plant and habitat availability within the Kimboza Forest Reserve is estimated at 148,684 ± 112,365 adult individuals, equaling a population density of 353 specimens ha-1. They estimated that the potential population size is 234,921 ± 103,376 adult individuals (557 specimens ha-1). Estimating the population of L. williamsi in the Ruvu forest requires further study, due to insufficient cover in the current field data (Flecks et al 2012).

Lygodactylus williamsi has been exported commercially from Tanzania to Europe and the USA since 2004. At first, only very animals were exported, and prices were astronomically high. In the fall of 2007, the number of geckos imported in Europe increased to several hundred, and from then, the number of imports in the EU have steadily increased. Total number of collected animals till 2009 is estimated to be about 40,000 specimens, about a third of the current total population. Reproductive capacity of the population in situ would be large enough to compensate for the collection, but local officials, villagers and collectors indicate a decrease of the number of geckos during the last years. This shows that the species is under pressure by habitat destruction and fragmentation and the collection for the pet trade creates an additional direct threat for its survival.

Action to be taken
Currently there are quite some breeders who are having success breeding the wild caught animals (founders). The neonates (F1) are proving to be hardy and thriving captives. Certainly now is the time for the implementation of an ex situ conservation project. The existing captive population has a strong and diverse genetic basis.
We aim for a population of around 100 founders. Founders will have to be wild caught animals, to ensure genetically pure lines. These 100 founders should represent the diversity of L. williamsi currently in captivity. Selective breeding will be needed to retain the diversity, because turnover in this species is fast (generation time of 1-2 years) and reproductive output is high (estimated to be 8-12 juveniles per breeding pair per year).

Emphasis will be put on communication with and among the participants, to spread all available information. To enhance communication, a Facebook group has been set up, in which information and experiences can be shared easily among participants and discussions can take place. Clearly, important information will also be included in reports and updates distributed by email.

Contacts with researchers working on the population in situ will be maintained, because both parties can gain in this way. Information gathered in a captive breeding program can enhance specific species protection, while knowledge on the population in situ can enhance the husbandry and reproduction in captivity. Where possible, the studbook will aid in protection of the species in situ.

Objectives studbook

- conserve a genetically healthy and stabile population in captivity
- exchange of information about keeping, breeding, behavior and diet ex situ
- increase knowledge about population in situ
- enhance species protection in situ

What is expected of a studbook participant?


1. Keep a written record of all important data about your animals, in as far you were not doing this already. Important data is data as marked on the ‘Form for new registrations’ and the ‘Form for changing an existing registration’.
2. Register your animals by using the ‘Form for new registrations’, which you can find on the ESF web-site http://www.studbooks.org, page ‘Forms’.
3. When changes occur, these will have to be reported by means of the ‘Form for changing an existing registration’ to the studbook holder. Changes could be moving, breeding, buying, selling, lend out or deaths.
4. For animals which are part of the breeding plan (playing a role later on), based on directions from the studbook holder, exchanging young animals with other breeding plan participants.

Every animal receives a unique number from the studbook holder. This number identifies the animals within the studbook. The studbook holder is required to make an annually studbook report and will request the participants to verify their part of the data. The annual report will be published on the ESF web-site. On request, you can remain anonymous in the report. If the above mentioned rules are not observed, it could mean that the animals your are keeping will not be registered in the studbook or could be expelled from the studbook. By registering your animals with the studbook, you accept the studbook rules. Future changes will be announced by the studbook holder or the relevant magazines. The studbook rules are published on the ESF web-site.

When you’re interested in participating in the studbook or when you have further questions, don’t hesitate to send me an email or PM (can also be done in German)!

Literature

FLECKS, M., WEINSHEIMER, F., BÖHME, W., CHENGA, J., LÖTTERS, S. & RÖDDER, D. 2012. Watching extinction happen: the dramatic population decline of the critically endangered Tanzanian Turquoise Dwarf Gecko Lygodactylus williamsi. Salamandra 48 (1): 12-20.
LEEUWEN, JEROEN VAN, 2009. Is er nog hoop voor de kleine blauwe smurfen onder de gekko’s? Lacerta 67 (1): 30-34.
LEEUWEN, JEROEN VAN, 2011. Lygodactylus williamsi, de situatie in het wild. Lacerta 69 (2): 68-79.


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