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Marine iguana UPSC NOTE

 


Marine iguana

  • The marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus), also known as the sea iguana, saltwater iguana, or Galapagos marine iguana.

  • Amblyrhynchus is a monotypic genus, having only one species, Amblyrhynchus cristatus.

  • It is a species of iguana found only on the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador).

  • Unique among modern lizards, it is a marine reptile that has the ability to forage in the sea for algae, which makes up almost all of its diet.

  • Marine iguanas are the only extant lizard that spends time in a marine environment.

  • Large males are able to dive to find this food source, while females and smaller males feed during low tide in the intertidal zone.

  • They mainly live in colonies on rocky shores where they bask after visiting the relatively cold water or intertidal zone, but can also be seen in marshes, mangrove swamps and beaches.

  • This protected species is considered threatened, primarily from El Niño cycles, introduced predators and chance events like oil spills.

  • Dark tones allow the lizards to rapidly absorb heat to minimize the period of lethargy after emerging from the water.

  • Marine iguanas have mutualistic and commensal relationships with several other animals.

  • Marine iguanas are unique as they are marine reptiles that forage on inter- and subtidal algae almost exclusively.

  • The marine iguana has several behavioral adaptations for thermoregulation.

  • As an ectothermic animal, the marine iguana can spend only a limited time in cold water diving for algae. Afterwards it basks in the sun to warm up.

Conservation Status and threats:

  • The marine iguana has a relatively small range and is currently considered vulnerable by the IUCN.

  • The periodic El Niño events reduce the cold water needed for algae to grow and this can drastically reduce the marine iguana population.

  • Population recoveries after El Niños are fast; even when reduced by 30–50%, the population is generally able to recover within four years.

  • When their food algae (red and green algae) disappears during El Niños, the areas may be taken over by this brown algae, causing starvation among the marine iguanas.

  • With global warming, it is expected that El Niño events will be stronger and occur more frequently.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Marine iguana UPSC NOTE
Marine iguana UPSC NOTE
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