Pinho, C.J., Santos, B., Mata, V.A., Seguro, M., Romeiras, M.M., Lopes, R.J. & Vasconcelos, R. (2018) What Is the Giant Wall Gecko Having for Dinner? Conservation Genetics for Guiding Reserve Management in Cabo Verde.Gene, 9, 599. DOI:10.3390/genes9120599 (IF2018 2,638; Q3 Genetics & Heredity)
Knowledge on diet composition of a species is an important step to unveil its ecology and guide conservation actions. This is especially important for species that inhabit remote areas within biodiversity hotspots, with little information about their ecological roles. The emblematic giant wall gecko of Cabo Verde, Tarentola gigas, is restricted to the uninhabited Branco and Raso islets, and presents two subspecies. It is classified as Endangered, and locally Extinct on Santa Luzia Island; however, little information is known about its diet and behaviour. In this study, we identified the main plant, arthropods, and vertebrates consumed by both gecko subspecies using next generation sequencing (NGS) (metabarcoding of faecal pellets), and compared them with the species known to occur on Santa Luzia. Results showed that plants have a significant role as diet items and identified vertebrate and invertebrate taxa with higher taxonomic resolution than traditional methods. With this study, we now have data on the diet of both subspecies for evaluating the reintroduction of this threatened gecko on Santa Luzia as potentially successful, considering the generalist character of both populations. The information revealed by these ecological networks is important for the development of conservation plans by governmental authorities, and reinforces the essential and commonly neglected role of reptiles on island systems.