ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology



First Advisor

Paul Chippindale


In an effort to combat the current extinction crisis, conservation biologists have developed a diverse set of tools, including conservation physiology. This scientific discipline applies physiological concepts and tools to generate conservation solutions for a broad range of species. The Anegada Rock Iguana (Cyclura pinguis) is a Critically Endangered species native to Anegada, British Virgin Islands. Feral cats depredate hatchlings within months of emergence, drastically reducing recruitment and population growth. By the 1990s, the population had declined by 80%. A headstart program was initiated in 1997 to combat this threat and increase the population. Wild collected hatchlings are reared in a captive environment and released to the wild once they reach a larger, less vulnerable size. Though headstart programs have been employed for a wide range of species, the method has been widely criticized for failing to assess the effects of captivity on the health and fitness of headstarted individuals, a lack of long-term monitoring, and high failure rates. The goal of this research is to evaluate the efficacy of headstarting as a conservation mechanism to bolster reintroduction efforts for the Anegada Rock Iguana. To that end we employed conservation physiology to monitor growth, body condition index, and vitamin D and calcium metabolism in captive headstart and reintroduced iguanas on Anegada. The information gained in this study will be invaluable to the other existing headstart programs currently employed to save Caribbean Rock iguanas from extinction as well as future iguana recovery programs.


Cyclura, Conservation, Headstarting, Growth, Body condition, Vitamin D, Calcium


Biology | Life Sciences


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington

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